As the grandfather clock in her living room struck midnight, the chimes resounding like a jet engine in her ears, Bella felt the dull ache become a sharp, breathe-stealing burn. If she were still human, she was certain that she would be sobbing uncontrollably. Her gaze flickered to the mantle where a picture of her and her mother on her wedding day sat.
She remembered the moment it was taken. It was one of the few memories of her mother that was still as vivid as the day it had happened. They were laughing as Emmett did a victory dance having just snatched the garter right out from under Mike Newton's nose. A half-hearted smile crossed her lips. Technically, Emmett and Rose had been married several times over by then, but no one else knew that. Her mother had laughed and shaken her head, mumbling something about "Kids these days. In such a rush to grow up and get married."
Bella hugged her knees to her chest and let loose a tearless sob. The cancer had taken her just two years after that day. There hadn't been much of a fight since Renee had been in the advanced stages without even realizing it. She was beyond the point where chemotherapy would help her and the mass had been inoperable according to even the best doctors-and they'd had the best doctors. Despite Bella's protests, Carlisle had insisted on calling in favors from his colleagues, who happened to be the most knowledgeable oncologists in their field. She'd expected to outlive her mother, yes. After all, she was an immortal now and would never die in any of the conventional ways. But to lose her mother this way was the cruelest reminder of the eternity she had to look forward to.
She was happy to be with Edward forever, but this had been a harsh reminder of the kind of life she had ahead of her. She was even more protective of Charlie than before, even going so far as inviting him over for dinner practically every night to ensure that he stuck to the diet his doctor had put him on. Given his age and his family's medical history, his heart was exceptionally susceptible to problems. She was certain if she lost Charlie so soon, she'd never recover.
* * *
Edward didn't have to be able to read his wife's mind to know what she was thinking. It was this way every year on Mother's Day. It was supposed to be a day that children spent celebrating the special bond with their mother. But for the last eight years had been anything but happy for Bella. The anguished sob that tore from her lips was absolute torture.
While Esme was an incredible mother to him, he still couldn't help but mourn his human mother on this day. He had few memories of her given that her death and his transformation had been so long ago, but he still remembered the scent of the perfume she wore for a night out with his father.
He had matched the scent with the actual maker and had bought a bottle during his years away from Carlisle. Sadly, it was no longer produced, making it all the more precious. Every so often, he would pull it from its hiding place and bask in its familiarity, drawing strength from it. That scent was part of what kept him sane. It reminded him of how it felt to be human.
He said nothing, sliding onto the couch beside her and wrapping his arms around her. She startled slightly before relaxing into him, sighing into his shoulder. He rocked her gently and kissed her forehead. "I'm so sorry, love," he murmured. "I wish more than anything that you hadn't had to lose her this way."
She sucked in an unnecessary breath. "You warned me about this, but I didn't realize that it was going to hurt this much."
"We feel everything more deeply, I'm afraid," he offered. "It's because we're so in touch with our baser instincts. As much as I wish I could say it will stop hurting, I can't. It would be a lie. All we can do is try not to think about it."
She nodded. "I don't regret it," she whispered. At his puzzled expression, she continued, "Becoming like you, I mean. Despite everything, I wouldn't change what happened for anything."
"Because then we wouldn't have Renesmee," he agreed.
"You and she are the only things that keep me from giving up."
He pressed his lips to hers, pulling a single red rose in full bloom from behind his back. "Happy Mother's Day, love."