If serenity could be captured in a picture, the scene of snow falling gently onto the ground would be a good candidate.
If only their lives had been that calm these past two months. Waking up in a hospital room not knowing who he was, watching the woman who called herself his wife burst into tears when he’d said he didn’t know her, and the kids’ faces when they were told their daddy couldn’t remember them . . .
Oliver, as he’d been told was his name, peeked inside the baby’s room, where he spotted Natalie rocking . . .Lily? Laila?
He frowned. He’d remembered his wife’s name, but not his daughter’s. He stepped inside, and Natalie looked up as he approached. “Are the other kids in bed?” she asked.
“Almost,” Oliver replied. “One of the boys is still brushing his teeth. I think it’s . . .um, it’s Ethan?”
A ghost of a smile appeared on his wife’s face. She nodded, tucking a strand of red hair behind her ear. “He goes by EJ though,” she said. “To avoid confusion because we named him after my dad.”
“Oh. Okay, that-that makes sense. What's the 'j’ for?”
“John. After my paternal grandfather.”
“Okay.” Oliver glanced at the baby. “Her name starts with an L, right?”
“Yeah. It’s Laila.”
“Thought so,” Oliver said, starting to back out of the room. “I’m, uh, gonna say goodnight to EJ.” He turned from the doorway and had barely stepped into the next room when he heard EJ’s voice pipe up.
“Dear God, thank you for today, and for the snow. We’re gonna have a lot of fun tomorrow playing in it! And maybe I won’t fall off the sled this time!”
He must be talking about last year, Oliver thought, as the snow outside was the first of the season. He peeked around the door frame, where he spotted the eight-year old, kneeling in front of his bed and with his red hair sticking up on all sides.
“I know I’ve been saying I want my two front teeth back for Christmas,” EJ continued. “But I don’t care about them anymore. Now all I want for Christmas is for Dad to have his memories back, so he can remember us.”
Oliver swallowed, though it did nothing to dissolve the growing lump in his throat.
“Thank You, Jesus. Amen!”
Peeking inside, Oliver spotted EJ climbing into bed. “Hey,” he said. EJ looked up, and a wide grin spread across his face.
“Hi, Dad!” He said.
Oliver came inside, and sat on the edge of the bed. “Did you brush your teeth real good?”
“Yeah,” EJ said. “I brushed ‘em for two minutes! Just like you and Mom taught me!”
“That’s good,” Oliver said with a small smile. “You, um, glad you didn’t have two extra teeth to brush?”
EJ thought a moment. "Kind of," he said. "But I don't really care."
“Okay, well . . .” Oliver sighed. “Goodnight, I guess.” He stood and looked around the room. The other two boys were already fast asleep. He started moving towards the door, and asked, “Do you want the door closed?”
“Yeah,” EJ said as he burrowed under his covers. Oliver stopped at the doorway. Something was missing . . .something he needed to say?
“Love you, Dad,” EJ said.
That must be it. “L-love you too,” Oliver replied. He closed the door, and peeked inside Laila’s room. Natalie was putting her in the crib, and when she finished and came out, Oliver said, “EJ’s in bed.”
“Did he brush his teeth for two minutes?”
“Yeah. Just like we . . .taught him.”
A moment of silence passed between them, her bright blue eyes meeting his dark brown. “Goodnight, Oliver.” Natalie said, brushing past him.
“Goodnight.” He watched her disappear into their room at the end of the hallway, then leaned against the wall and looked up.
“I . . .” He swallowed, and ran a hand through his medium brown hair. “I need my memories back. Not-not just for my sake, but for Natalie's, and the kids' sakes.”
He glanced between the doors in the hallway. “She needs her husband and they need their father,” he continued in a near-whisper. “Please, please, let me remember. I just want to remember.”
He lingered for a moment more, then went off to bed.