After her son’s death, Marissa lost hope that she would be happy again until Nicole knocked on her door. The young woman held a baby in her arms and shocked Marissa after revealing why she had come.
Marissa was in her kitchen, looking through one of her many photo albums and thinking about life. She leafed through each page slowly and sighed deeply, focusing on each photograph of her son, Cody. It had been a year since his passing in a tragic car accident. But she still wasn’t over it. She no longer cried at the sight of these pictures, but the pain was extremely tough.
“I don’t think I’ll ever recover from this,” Marissa whispered out loud, rubbing her chin with one hand and turning the album page with the other.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. She wasn’t expecting anyone this early in the morning. Regardless, she closed the album, got up from her kitchen table, and walked towards the door. It was probably one of her neighbors coming to borrow something. Everyone was friendly in Tallahassee, Florida.
But when Marissa opened the door, a young woman was standing outside. She was rocking a bundled up baby in her arms and appeared impatient. “Hello? How can I help you?” the older woman asked, puzzled.
“Hmm, is Cody Masterson here? I’m looking for him,” the young woman replied. Marissa flinched at hearing someone else say her son’s name and took a moment to collect herself before answering.
“I’m sorry. He doesn’t live here anymore,” she mumbled quietly, looking at her visitor with a pained expression, although the young woman didn’t notice.
“Please, I beg you. Can you tell me where he lives? I need to find him. It’s crucial,” she insisted while the baby in her arms stirred. She tried to calm him, but the child was probably hungry.
“Why don’t you come in for a second? I’m Marissa. You can feed your baby comfortably inside, and we can talk,” Marissa piped up and opened the door further, inviting the woman inside.
“Are you sure? I don’t want to trouble you. But yes, Leo needs to eat. Thank you,” she accepted and made her way inside.
Marissa told her to sit on the living room couch and went to get some refreshments. When she returned, the mother was holding Leo to her chest in the most loving manner while breastfeeding.
“Oh, he truly was hungry. He reminds me of Cody at that age,” Marissa commented while smiling. But she stopped abruptly, realizing that this was her first sincere grin since Cody’s passing. She snapped out of it when the woman spoke.
“Ah, so you’re Cody’s mother. I’m Nicole. I’m sorry I didn’t introduce myself before,” Nicole said apologetically. “Please, ma’am. You have to tell me where he is. He has to meet his son. He ghosted me a year ago when I sent him a picture of my pregnancy test. I need to find him.”
Marissa’s eyes flared, and suddenly, she had trouble breathing. She placed a hand on her chest, trying to calm down, but despite her best efforts, she continued to hyperventilate.
Nicole was saying something, but Marissa couldn’t hear her properly. A million thoughts ran through her head. Cody is a father. I have a grandson. Is this true? Is this a miracle? Did my son really ghost Nicole? She panicked.
Luckily, her breathing slowed down after a few minutes.
“Marissa! Marissa! Do you need me to call 911? What can I do for you?” Nicole’s voice finally registered, but Marissa shook her head at the young woman’s question.
“No, I’m alright now. It’s just… what you said was honestly too surprising. I wasn’t expecting it,” the older woman began. “It’s like I was drowning for a year, and suddenly, all the air rushed in. I couldn’t stop it.”
“I don’t understand,” Nicole said, shaking her head and looking at Marissa with concern.
“Cody died a year ago, Nicole. He was hit by a truck,” Marissa revealed. She heard Nicole gasp in surprise but continued speaking. “There was nothing the doctors could do for him, and his things were destroyed too. I believe he had his phone in the car. My son… my son wouldn’t have abandoned his responsibilities. I have to believe that.”
“I can’t believe he’s gone. Cody and I dated at NYU. We talked about the future but didn’t commit to anything before finding jobs. He told me he loved living here and wanted to see if he could find any vacancies at the Tallahassee Democrat. That’s a newspaper here, right?” Nicole asked.
“That’s right. He told me about looking for a job,” Marissa confirmed sadly.
“Well, he was here when I took a pregnancy test back home. I sent him the image because I was excited… scared… everything. And well, I thought he should know before he accepted an offer. He read the message and saw the image but never answered. I called and called that night. Then every night for two weeks. But nothing. I thought he was done with me,” Nicole continued.
“Why didn’t you keep trying?”
“My pregnancy got complicated. I was put on bed rest five months along and had to stop working. By then, I was so angry that Cody didn’t reply or call. I was determined to do fine on my own. I should’ve Googled him. I should’ve looked harder. After Leo was born, I remembered that Cody told me about growing up in Wilson Green, and he had an old picture of himself in front of this house. I drove around trying to find it, and here we are,” she finished.
Nicole hugged baby Leo to her chest once he was done eating while tears ran down her face. Marissa was also on the verge of bawling because her son had missed a chance at being a father.
“Dear, I’m so sorry. If I had known about you, I wouldn’t have let you go through this alone,” Marissa assured, grabbing a few napkins and wiping her wet cheeks.
The two women stopped crying after a few minutes, then Marissa invited Nicole to stay for a few days. She showed her the photo albums, and they both realized Leo looked a lot like his father. It was a bittersweet kind of happiness. Eventually, Nicole asked to visit Cody’s grave and pay her respects, which Marissa thought was a lovely idea.
A few days later, Marissa asked Nicole if she wanted to stay longer. “You can stay here as long as you want. I can help you find a job and a house, of course, so you’ll have your privacy. It’s a great school district…” the older woman began, excited at the prospect of being around her grandson.
“Marissa, I can’t stay here,” Nicole interrupted gently. “I actually landed a job back in New York. My entire family is there. I only came here looking for Cody. I thought he needed to meet his son before I got too busy. But I want you to be a part of his life. How about we keep in contact and figure out visits? You can travel to New York. I can visit in the summer or during Christmas. We’ll see how it goes.”
Marissa smiled and hugged the mother of her grandson. “Thank you, darling. You are amazing. Yes, let’s figure things out. I’m sure Leo is going to love coming here in the summer, and I can drive him down to Disney World when he’s older!”
Despite the terrible news she got, Nicole was glad she came down. Her son now had another grandparent who loved him. The distance would be challenging, but they could work it out for her son. She was also glad to know that Cody never ghosted her. He was gone from this world, but at least, there was a piece of him left.
Time went by, and Marissa traveled to New York often to see Leo. She was there with Nicole and her parents for Leo’s first trip to Magic Kingdom. The older woman also filled dozens of new albums with photos, and although her son’s loss still weighed in her mind, little Leo’s smile took away some of her pain.
What can we learn from this story?
- Don’t assume the worst in people. Nicole should’ve tried harder to find Cody instead of thinking he ghosted her.
- Time can heal all wounds. Marissa would never get over her son’s loss, but life goes on one way or another. Her grandson was also a huge balm for her soul.
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