We got to Josh's house right as things were being prepared for the cookout. I looked around and saw Ellen putting up balloons and Jenny was making posters saying 'Family Reunion'.
When they saw me walking up, all of them smiled and waved. I wished, to myself, that my family could be like that: all love. "Grandma, we're going to put Nicole's stuff in my room and then we'll be out here to help."
Ellen nodded and then continued blowing up balloons. Harold was pouring charcoal into the fire pit and wasn't really paying attention to anyone. I'd noticed ever since Josh had his accident, Harold wasn't acting normal...it concerned me.
Josh opened the front door for me and shut behind him. When I turned around, he lifted me up into his arms and spun me around. I gripped him tightly and squealed. "What are you doing!?"
He started laughing and finally said, "Welcome home, Beautiful!"
Josh put me down and I looked up at his gorgeous face. "Home?" He nodded and replied, "Home."
I smiled and wrapped my arms around his neck. "This really does feel like a home to me."
We had just finished helping Ellen pat out hamburgers when cars started pulling in. I was shocked to see how many Princetons existed!
Josh came up from behind me and looped his arm around my waist. "I'm introducing you to everyone," he said.
First came his Aunt Rachel and Uncle Jeremiah. They shook my hand and continued walking towards the backyard. Next, came his great-grandmother Jean. Instead of shaking my hand, she hugged me warmly and said, "Welcome to the family, dear."
I remembered Ellen saying that to me the first time I came to Josh's house. "That's my grandma's mom," Josh whispered.
"I could tell." I softly said.
Josh had many, many cousins. There were 20 total; 12 girls and 8 boys. They were all 12 years or younger and was obsessed with following Josh around.
The youngest, Kyle, tugged on the hem of my tank top and asked, "Are you Josh's wife?"
At the time, I was sipping on some sprite and when I heard Kyle, I nearly choked on it. Josh patted my back and started chuckling.
"No, Kyle, she's my girlfriend," Josh replied.
Kyle ran away giggling while we stood still shocked at his question. Josh, then, looked at me and said, "Hey...it could happen."
He kissed me, gently, on the mouth and then led me to the backyard.
His whole family finished off all the burgers and hotdogs, and now, we were preparing to roast marshmallows. I sat in a fold-up chair and waited for Josh to come back with our marshmallows.
Before she came, I heard Jenny walking with Shadow. She came up from behind me and said, "Hi! Are you having fun?"
Shadow knelt down on the grass and Jenny sat down beside him. I replied, "I'm having a blast! You did good helping plan with your grandma."
"Yeah I know...I want to be a wedding planner when I grow up."
I thought about this for a moment. She would have a hard time, I know, but she could be anything she wanted to be...as long as she tried.
"You would be the best there is." I patted Jenny's knee and she smiled.
Josh came back and looked down at Jenny beside me. "Hey there, Jenny! Do you want a marshmallow?"
She shook her head and commanded, "Shadow, up." Shadow, obediently, stood up and started walking her where she wanted to go.
I pressed my marshmallow with my thumb and then bit into it. Amazingly, Josh knew exactly how I liked my marshmallow.
I said, "Yes. This has been so much fun! Thanks for letting me come."
He took my hand and interlaced it with his. "Good. I'm glad
you're having fun! Don't mention it, babe, I wouldn't be having
fun right now if you weren't here."
I smiled and continued enjoying my marshmallow.
Everything was going great...until Harold came up to us with Luke following behind him.
He tried to smile, but it soon faltered. "Uh...Nicole, we need to go. Your mom has had an accident."
I jumped up and rushed over to Luke. "What do you mean? What happened?"
"I think she might've tried to kill herself..."
Luke's words hit me like a bullet and I, slowly, felt myself fall to the ground. Josh caught me before my head hit the ground.
My mom had tried to kill herself.