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Author's Chapter Notes:

So, I know this plot was written about recently and I hate to seem like a copycat (Angela: Just say "Copies". Why do you have to drag cats into this?) but I had already plotted out this for the next chapter of AFD – only I was unable to focus on it due to trying to finish my behemoth, 360. I had even put some feelers out in Discord back in May to see if we had ever heard this had happened in canon. I was going to scrap it, but a few wise friends told me to go ahead and share my take on the same event. So, after a bit of hesitation and multiple postponements for a series of other IRL reasons, here it is. Thanks DJC for the beta-read. Speaking of DJC if after reading, you are curious about Beth's comment, head over to A Real Mensch for more info and a fun read from his Rejected Cold Opens series.


April, 2011

As if the weather outside was controlled by her mood, the rain was pounding at the window when she woke up. Blinking open her heavy eyes, she stared up at the ceiling as they filled again, mirroring the veneer of moisture she knew covered the pane behind the opaque curtain.

She pressed her hands to her middle. The irregular nausea that plagued her the first few months with Cece was back, but she knew this current wave wasn’t from the pregnancy.

She was shocked Cece wasn’t wailing out from her crib yet. Maybe she sensed how sad her mama was and was keeping her own wails to a minimum, finding it impossible to compete with the volume of tears Pam had been crying the last week.

It was hard to believe she was gone. She knew it had been coming. Though it was unfathomable how fast it happened after her fall at Christmas, she saw her Mee-Maw go from vibrant, if at times opinionated and stubborn, to weak and feeble in a matter of months. But it still hit her like a steamroller on her heart when her mom called earlier that week with the news.


Jim had known exactly what the news was just from the look on her face. After she traded Cece for the cell phone he’d flipped open and passed to her to answer, it went blank for a mere moment. But it was when the corners of her mouth shifted downward and her eyes began to blink rapidly, she noiselessly revealed the sad update being received.  Cece must have sensed it too, as she began to cry, her wails much louder than the quiet tears that streamed from Pam’s eyes as she spoke.


Jim rocked Cece as he looked on with sympathy unable to wrap his arms around his wife while trying to soothe his wailing daughter at the same time.

“Hold on Mom, I can’t hear you. Cece is crying,” she said as she motioned to Jim to go to the other room.

With expressive green eyes he silently relayed condolences and love and turned with Cece, retreating for the kitchen where he hoped some Cheerios might stop the outbreak of her tears.

Cece quieted down the minute the first circles of oats hit the tray, her chubby little fingers preoccupied with raking them closer to her so she could scoop them up and mash them into her mouth. If only it could be as simple to help Pam feel better, but he knew there was no magic cereal to console his wife.

When after ten minutes she joined them in the kitchen, her eyes had deepened to the intense sea green they often became when her emotions ran high. Joined by a glistening sheen from the dampness still within them and a tinge of red lining the lids, both were hints to the mountain of tears she’d wept while she talked with her mother. Her skin, normally clear and radiant, even more so in her recent state of pregnancy, was blotchy and marked with streaks from where they slid down her cheeks. And while the attempt to pull herself together before entering the room was a noble one, no tears were currently being shed, the crack in her voice said that wouldn’t hold for long.

“The funeral is Wednesday.”

Despite her own short, slow steps into the room, it only took one stride for Jim to reach her; his momentum towards her had begun the instant she showed up in the doorway, his own green eyes resting upon hers with an intensity mirroring the deepness of hers.

Wrapping her delicately into his arms, he expressed his compassions through his gentle touch and soft-spoken words.

“I’m so sorry baby. I know how much she meant to you…

…to us,” he corrected himself. Though he had not started on the right foot with Mee-Maw, in time she came to see just how devoted he was to his granddaughter and that turned her around in no time. That, and how happy he always was, or at least pretended to be, to sit with her through the many stories the rest of her relatives had grown tired of hearing again and again at events and visits. As she warmed to him, he grew to love her too, just as Pam said he would once she forgave him for corrupting her morals, and received him as one in her precious family.

“I just can’t believe…sepu guuh fuu.”

With her head buried into his chest, she choked what she could not finish speaking, the words sounding more like Cece’s babbles than anything intelligible and yet he knew exactly what they were. As they fell off, he felt a drop of wetness on his shirt that slowly spread across his torso while she softly wept as he rocked her.

“I know. I know.” he cooed, patting her back with the gentle strokes that he found sometimes worked on Cece when she was upset, letting Pam release her sorrow and drench his shirt.

Only after a snort that he was sure left more than just tears on the thin fabric of his tee did he attempt to draw out a laugh.

“See Cece, you’re not the only one who doesn’t know the difference between a tee shirt, a burp cloth and a handkerchief.”

Pam pulled away, tears still falling even as her lips turned upward and a tiny giggle escaped which Cece mimicked excitedly from her high chair.

Looking towards her daughter, the smile brightened a touch as she made her way to the counter and the box Jim had left open and out.

Pam dumped another handful of Cheerios in front of Cece before curling down the inner bag, fastening up the box, and returning it to the pantry. When she turned her attention back to Jim, he was stripping himself out of the tear, snot and spit-stained shirt. She waited for his head to reappear from where he lifted the fabric over it.

“Can you see if your mom can come and stay a few days? I don’t think we should bring Cece to the wake or even the funeral. And my mom may need me a lot this week. She’s already stressing about writing the eulogy and making all the arrangements.”

Jim went to drop his balled-up shirt on the chair, at the last minute switching it to his other hand instead as he heard her voice tremble again while she asked.

“Of course. I’ll call her now.”

With his free hand he reached for the landline on the counter punching through the speed dials as he continued.

“Do you think you might want to write something to share yourself? It might be cathartic, you know. At least it was for me when my gramma passed.”

Pam turned back to Cece who clearly had her fill of the Cheerios before her and had taken to dropping them on the floor. Bending over Pam swiped up a few before she swooped her daughter out of the chair and straddled her across her hip.

“I hadn’t thought…” she began, her words interrupted by Jim’s.

“Hey, Mom. It’s Jim.”

He held up a finger.

“Got some bad news this morning…”

Feeling her eyes fill with moisture again, she left Jim alone to talk to Betsy and took Cece back to the den. She settled her in front of the activity table and lingered for a moment to watch her delight in pressing buttons and flipping switches, as usual becoming fixated on lifting and lowering the lid to the pretend laptop it featured.

Even she was finding her grief somewhat excessive—she knew it was in part due to the pregnancy hormones, just the other day she became downright weepy while watching an insurance company commercial featuring a dog on tv—and yet on her way to the couch as she contemplated what Jim suggested, she felt her eyes tear up again in thinking about what she might write. She’d never written a eulogy or even spoken at a funeral before—not counting the bizarre one Michael held for a bird, where on the spot, she was able to come up with the comforting words she knew he needed to hear in his fragile state. But this was different. This was for her beloved Mee-Maw, and while the memories she had of her were numerous and personally sentimental, she was having a hard time bringing them to the forefront of her mind.

She looked up at Cece, who had toddled around to the crayon shaped buttons, pushing on them to watch the colors light up as she pressed each one. Suddenly she was remembering the simple crayon sets Mee-Maw would bring her at her visits. They were always just 8 colors, never the larger 64, not even the 24 crayon sets she had asked for and when Pam would show her disappointment, Mee-Maw would just dismiss her…

“Nonsense, child”, she would say. “You don’t need more colors to make me a pretty picture. Everyone thinks they need more, but there’s beauty in simplicity. You just need to bring it out from within you. Now be gracious and go draw me something with your gift.”

She was like that when they played games too, Mee-Maw being the one adult who regularly beat her at Candyland, unlike her mom who she later realized always let her win. But playing with Mee-Maw, when Pam would pout upon landing on Molasses Swamp, again Mee-Maw would repeat her nonsense child mantra and tell her she had to follow the rules and play fair and that meant waiting until she drew a red card to get out.

It was devastating to think how Cece would never have the chance to play Candyland with her, receive her own taste of Mee-Maw’s tough love, or really get to know her at all. And how her beloved Mee-Maw would never know who the baby she was carrying now would turn out to be.

She looked up when she heard Jim say goodbye to his mom as he walked into the room, stopping to press a few of the neon-lit crayon colors with Cece before he joined Pam on the sofa.

“So, my mom will be here tomorrow and she can stay the week.”

Popping up from the seat beside him, she walked to the console where the real laptop sat amid more of Cece’s toys, various remotes and the magazines they never had time to read but still had delivered to the house every month.

“Oh good, I’ll go get her room ready. But first, I think I am going to try what you suggested.”

Picking up the portable computer, she tucked it under her arm and left for her studio.


Pam shifted and nestled closer to Jim, also still in bed much later than usual, seeking comfort in the nearness of his body and the slight tang that wafted off his body, mildly pungent from sleep and yet strangely alluring and intensely soothing in her current state.

Jim, her rock, who seemed to know everything she needed during this difficult time when she couldn’t seem to let go of the sorrow which was still lingering longer than she knew it should. Sure, the pregnancy was making the sadness hard to shake, but there was also the regret that she couldn’t completely follow through on what Jim had suggested. He’d been right, the writing was a release that helped ease the pain she was feeling. It took a few sessions to finish, but when she was done putting her thoughts to paper and shared it with him, he remarked on how much it said about their relationship and the impact Sylvia had on her. It was nothing she hadn’t shared with him before, and yet he said the way she expressed her love through her words felt new and how it was a beautiful tribute that was sure to be appreciated when she shared it at the funeral.

But when the time came, she hadn’t been able to. The morning of the funeral had been particularly rough. Whether it was morning sickness, sorrow, nerves or some combination of all of them, she hadn’t been able to relieve the heaviness in her belly or suppress the urge to vomit, even after she had thrown up, twice. But she managed to shower while Jim made a quick run to 7-11 for ginger ale, and Betsy did her best to attend to Cece who woke up very cranky and crying for her mama.

The ginger ale helped and Cece eventually calmed down and though she had another fit when her parents, both dressed all in black, said their goodbyes at the door, Betsy had ushered them out, assuring Pam they’d be fine but it kept her concerned their whole way to the funeral parlor.  

She had found her calm by the time they arrived and while she shed silent tears as her mother gave the eulogy, by the time it was her turn she had wiped them away and was prepared to speak. She got to the podium, set out her paper and looked out into the crowd before she began. She got as far as the second sentence when she looked up again and saw him there in the third row, unsure if his crying was for show or genuine but either way it caused her heart to pound, her stomach to churn and her nose to smolder as the tears quickly filled in her eyes from his being there at all. Promptly, she looked to Jim whose head whipped around to find the source of what was unsettling her, but it was too late. Upon seeing Michael in attendance, she broke down, overwhelmed by her emotions. It was Jim who came up to rescue her and deliver the small tribute she had written.

“Morning Beesly,” he whispered as he pulled her closer and took her in with yet unopened eyes that nonetheless seemed to sense her lingering sadness.

“You’re thinking of her this morning, aren’t you?”

She answered by burrowing her head into the small hollow at his sternum, making him in turn wrap her tighter into his arms and drop a gentle kiss atop her crown of copper curls. 

“I was thinking, with my mom still here, maybe we go to dinner tonight, just us. Maybe Christopher’s. It’s been a while...”

Betsy, of course. She was still here and must have gathered up Cece when she first cried from her crib.

She let out a sniffle and mumbled into his chest.

“Yeah, I’d like that.”


“Well, this a pleasant surprise!”

As Beth set down the basket of bread in the center of the table, she seemed to survey the whole of it before looking back up to smile brightly at Pam.

“What brings you two strangers in? A special occasion maybe?”

Though her eyes landed on Pam as she asked, it was Jim who responded, drawing Beth’s glance back to the drink by his hands and then up to his face.

“My mom’s staying with us for a few days.”

Jim’s skill for directing his attention to multiple parties at once was in full play as he went on, his focus simultaneously aimed to both women, the former in friendly conversation and the latter in concern for how she might react in response to the waitress’s question.  

Never one to mask her emotions well, Pam picked the water glass up to hide her face behind as she took a sip. But with her choice of shield as transparent as she was, Jim was quick to catch the flicker of grief that passed over her eyes.

Both the look and the short catch in her throat as she sipped went undetected by Beth, so Jim continued, omitting the reason for his mom’s visit.

“So, we took an opportunity to get out for a dinner at our special place.”

“Well, I’ll take it. Always happy to see you two here. And I’m sure your mom is thrilled to get some alone time with her grandchild. There’s just such a special bond between children and their grandmamas.”

She turned back to Pam who had just set the glass back down, “Am I right?”

Where before, the brief flash of sadness might have gone unnoticed, following this innocent but direct question from Beth, it was impossible for Pam to hide the mournful pang that came up to the surface. Tears flooded in her eyes and hovered on her lashes and before she could blink them back, one broke free, sliding down her cheek to the table where it left a mark on the tablecloth.

“Pam, hon, what is it?”

When the only response was a deep gasping breath, seeking explanation she looked from Pam to Jim.

“Was it something I said? Is Cece okay?”

“Cece’s fine.”

He looked up at Pam who had for the most part recovered and nodded at him.

“It’s just Pam lost her grandma, her Mee-Maw, this week. It’s actually why my mom is in town, to watch Cece while we helped out her mom and attended the wake and funeral.”

“Oh, Pam dear, I’m so sorry,” Beth spoke gently as she turned back to Pam, compassion in her eyes.

Then she shook her head almost violently, appearing to play back her earlier comment in her own head.

“And I’m so sorry for my big fat foot that I once again put in my mouth.”

Pam smiled genuinely back at her, knowing well the regret of saying something that she wished she could take back. 

“It’s okay. You couldn’t have known. And really, I’m much too emotional about it, even days later, even though we’d known it was coming for a while now. It just seems to be hitting me harder because of the hor….”

Catching herself, Pam rephrased her thought.

“…because I just can’t believe she is really gone.”

“Oh honey, there’s no timetable for grief that needs to be followed. You feel what you feel. As for her being gone, my people have a saying,” and she added what Pam guessed to be Hebrew, “Zichrona Livricha.”

“May her memory be for a blessing.

“Thank you,” Pam replied, not sure herself what the proper response was being a little confused as to the meaning of the phrase but also too timid to ask.

Jim wasn’t. Looking again at both women at once he spoke.

“We heard that said a few times after the funeral service. I think one of the people was your uncle’s wife, Rachel, who said it to you and your mom. I wondered about it. What does it mean?”

“I guess it can be interpreted in different ways…I’ve always thought it that it means that in carrying and sharing the memories of her, she continues in spirit. Her life still matters for what goodness she has left behind inside the people who knew her. Her life is a blessing that you can carry forth with you in yours.”

Pam blinked back tears again, this time seeming more in reflection than sorrow.

“I love that.”

Her brows lifted as she eyed Jim with an expressive half-grin that grew wider as she spoke.

“Of course, goodness isn’t all she left behind. She had her opinions and she let everyone know them, sometimes too aggressively, but I think that spunk and spark is worth keeping within us too. I hope I can pass a little of that spirit on to our children.”

Jim raised his glass in a tribute.

“I’ll drink to that.”

For the second time it was a toast by Jim, that gave them away, but this time hopefully Mee-Maw was smiling from above at the news. Beth surely was as she took note of the glass filled only with water that Pam held up to clink with Jim’s.

“No Berry Smash, tonight?” she asked not so innocently.

And also for the second time, they shared news of Pam’s pregnancy long before they had told anyone else, their plan to wait for the second trimester before telling friends abandoned in the moment. It was knowing they likely wouldn’t be back to Christopher’s for a while to share the news in person, combined with a strange inability to keep anything from her, that led them to reveal their secret.

“I thought so. I could see the sadness, but even that could not erase the glow. Not to mention, when have you ever passed up your Berry Smash?”

She winked and held up an imaginary glass of her own.

“Here’s to your blessings, to Mee-Maw whose memory you’ll always keep inside of you and to the other blessing you’re cooking up in there. To that I say mazel tov.”


“That was nice. I’m glad you suggested it. And Beth always has such meaningful things to say.”

“She does, doesn’t she.” Jim turned to face her and give her hand a quick squeeze before he pulled it back to start the car.

“Mmm,” Pam murmured an agreement that morphed into an involuntary yawn that as it ended, mutated more becoming the delightful giggle that he’d fallen in love with. The same one he’d been trying unsuccessfully to bring about all week. He had to wonder what it was to bring it back now.

“Care to share what is so funny over there?”

Eyes blinking away tiny tears that were brought on not by her sadness, but by the laughter building up inside of her.

“It’s silly.”

“Yeah, I’m sure it is. But let’s hear it.”

“I was just thinking about what Beth said, about the blessing, and it got me thinking of one of Michael’s michaelisms.”

“Which one? There are so many, but I can’t begin to think of one that would apply here.”

She began chuckling again, practically snorting before she could get it out.

“You remember when he told us about his walkabout, you know when you left him stranded at the gas station.”

“Um, because your mother locked Cece in the car.”

Pam gently swatted at him before she continued.

“Yeah, I’ll admit not her finest babysitting moment, but it all worked out okay. If you ask Michael, better than okay. Remember the story he told us about the aftermath of your leaving him…he called it a blessing in the skies. Well, that’s how I’m thinking of Mee-Maw. I’m thinking about her up there…as my own blessing in the skies.”

“I’m pretty sure that’s not what Michael meant, or who knows maybe it is. Have you ever heard his theory we are all puppets being controlled by a master puppeteer in the heavens...”

Nodding through a smile she finished Jim’s thought for him.

“…the real reason the crew is here to film us.”

Without removing his hands from the wheel, Jim raised his arms one at a time as if pulled up by strings on his elbows, tipping his head mechanically in conjunction with each arm motion. The car pulled slightly to each side with each dip of his arms and head.

“Okay Mortimer, calm yourself. You’re going to make me carsick.”

Jim straightened the wheel at once and reached over again, this time to gently rub her belly.

“Oops, sorry baby,” he crooned as he covered her whole middle with his hand. Soon he would no longer be able to. Already, she felt the bump forming, much earlier than with Cece. Likewise, with her mood swings and nausea, but mostly the utter fatigue that when it hit overcame her completely, as it was beginning to now.

“Anyway, glad that Beth cheered you up and Michael managed to get you laughing again.”

“Me tooooo,” she replied as another yawn took over her body.

“Tired huh? You had a rough week. Sleep if you want.”

His hand wandered from stomach down her knee, which he caressed lovingly before bringing it back to settle on the wheel.

Pam shifted the seat back, settling in for a catnap over the ride home.  

The week had been a rough one and she was still a wee bit sad but a little of the melancholy had lifted over the course of the evening. What had not lifted was the braid of exhaustion brought on by the busy week, all her crying, and the rising hormonal levels. Before succumbing to the sleep seizing fast control, she took a last glance over at her husband, then down to the tiny bump under the seat belt and finally out her window, smiling through another yawn as purple skies flickered past her line of sight.

Beth had it right. Michael too, with his mixed-up phrases. Up in the skies and down here on earth, she was very blessed indeed.

Just before her lids fell, she looked upward to the blessings disguised as stars and said one final goodbye to Mee-Maw. 

Chapter End Notes:

While feeling strangely nervous and self-conscious posting again after the long break, I'm hoping finally putting this one up resparks my (and perhaps others') motivation to get back to writing. 

As always I do love hearing thoughts.


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