My family was living through another nightmare. Five years ago my father was killed in a car accident while driving drunk and now my brother was shot.
My mom was taking antidepressants just so she can get through a day but today will be one of the toughest of them all – Caleb’s wake and funeral.
We decided on an open casket so people can say their goodbyes.
Me and my sister Leah decided to say a few words. Neither my mother or Emmalee were able to do so.
“Whenever I think about my brother, I remember his bright smile. He had one for everybody he met along the way. I cry and cry, knowing that I will never be able to see that smile again. But as I look back and remember the life that he had, I know he is smiling down at us with the brightest smile that he can give, knowing we remember him.” I began.
“The pain of his death is not something that can go away with just sincere condolences or a bunch of flowers. We were triplets and that makes the loss even greater. What makes it bearable is knowing that we are gathered here today because of the wonderful memories he left us. You all came here and shared hours of your day because he was a loving son, a supportive brother, a loyal boyfriend and an amazing friend. He left us a part of him that neither time nor even his death can ever take away.” Leah continued and I was glad that I can take a breath.
Somehow we got through the eulogy without crying uncontrollably, however I had a few tears roll down my cheeks and so did Leah. Finally the funeral conductor took over and we could join our mother and Emmalee in the first row.
Lots of people showed up at the funeral home. People from school, Caleb’s coworkers from the car dealership, Emmalee’s family which was also basically Caleb’s family…
His death touched a lot of people and it was no surprise. He was young, honest, loving and generally a good person.
Man, I miss him so much.
Caroline approached me as we were ready to go to the cemetery.
“I’m so sorry for your loss, Jimmy.” She said and put her hand on my shoulder in an attempt to comfort me.
We haven’t spoken since the day she kissed me in the park and then ran away.
“Thank you. I appreciate it, Car.” I gave her a half smile.
“If you need anything or your family, please let me know. I mean it. I can’t even imagine what you’re going through.”
“It’s difficult. My mom is not handling it well, I think I will have to move back home and finish school in Summerset.” I told her about my plans for the future.
Leah with her husband Elliot are currently living with mom but they are looking for a house and they might have found one so they will be moving out soon and mom would have to stay there all alone. That’s the last thing she needs right now.
Caroline nodded in understanding. “I will see you at the cemetery, stay strong.”
I watched her walk towards the exit. Seeing her here made me feel a little better. I was thinking about her a lot since the last time we saw each other.
When everyone left the funeral home, I stayed behind to say my goodbyes in private.
I held Caleb’s cold, lifeless hand. He looked so peaceful.
“I’m sorry, love.” I sobbed quietly. “I’m sorry this happened to you. We would have had an amazing life, you know? You, me and our baby.” I smiled slightly at the image of the family we could have been. “Have you met him yet? He joined you up there. I hope you can find each other and when my time is up, I’ll join you and then we will have our happily ever after. I miss you so, so much. I don’t think I will ever not miss you…but I have to go now. So keep an eye on our baby for me, ok? You’re gonna be an amazing dad. I love you, Caleb, always have, always will.”
I walked outside and looked up on the sky. I wanted to scream but then I realized that the sun was shining, drying off the tears on my cheeks. My Caleb is gone but life goes on. For millions of people,nothing has changed.
“Honey?” My mom touched my shoulder gently. “Are you ready to go?”
I nodded and started walking with her towards the car so we can all go to the cemetery.
That’s it, I thought when I got back to my apartment few hours later.
I was exhausted. Emotionally. I shut the door behind me and my first steps lead to the kitchen where I poured myself a glass of wine.
I walked into my office which is where I was most of the time because it’s the one room in the apartment where Caleb spent the least time in. Actually the only time he ever came here was to complain that I’m studying too much. I sat on the chair in the nook that I hardly got a chance to use before and looked out of the window. Just stared…
I knocked on Emmalee’s apartment and waited for her to open the door. I took her quite a while so I kind of knew what state she will be in.
When she finally showed up, she just confirmed what I was thinking. She was drunk again.
“Hey there little bro.” She mumbled and hiccuped.
“Hey.” I replied and walked into her place. First thing I noticed was a spilled glass of wine on her dining table. “I came to talk to you.”
“And what do you want to talk to me about, hm?” She said mockingly and then continued. “Let me guess – my drinking?”
“Well..yea.” I nodded.”And I also came to say that if you ever want get out of this apartment, you are more than welcome to live with me and Owen for a while. You’ve been locked in here for a year, Em.”
“I’m fine where I am. You don’t have to worry about me and you can say that to mom and dad too. I know they sent you.”
“They are worried about you. We all are, but you moving to Summerset was my idea. I thought you could use the change of scenery. Will you think about it? Please?”
“If I say yes, will you get out of my face?” Emmalee said annoyingly.
“Ok then I’ll think about it.”
I left her apartment bummed as always. She’s been through a lot but she was handling it so wrong.
I got home late that night, my boyfriend was already sleeping. I slid under the blanket and wrapped my arms around him. Every time I saw how miserable my sister is, I was reminded that I have to cherish every moment I have with this man. No one knows how long we have left or what the future holds.
When I woke up, Owen wasn’t in bed anymore. I walked into our kitchen to find him serving breakfast and coffee.
“Good morning, Sleepy head.” He smiled. It was Sunday morning so I slept in like I usually do. “How did it go yesterday?”
“Ugh.” I let out a grunting sound and dropped on one of the chairs. “I don’t think she’ll be moving in. I don’t know what to do, Owen. She is killing herself.”
“Give her more time. She lost Caleb and their baby. It’s understandable, you can’t just shake something like that off and move on.”
“I know. I just wish I could help her somehow.”
“Just be there when she decides she needs someone to talk to.”
“I love you, you know that, right?”
“I do. And I love you too.”
As we were cleaning the dishes after breakfast, there was a knock on our door. We looked at each other since neither one of us was expecting anybody.
“Probably Mrs. Lone, it’s someone who has the key to the front door.” Owen was guessing.
It was an easy guess. Mrs. Lone was a lady that lived on the same floor as us and always had something to complain about or was looking for gossip.
I opened the door, putting together a plan how to get rid of her, but quickly realized that it’s not her.
“Hey.” Emmalee was sitting on a big suitcase. “So I thought about your offer and you might be right. Maybe I need to move out of the apartment. I feel Caleb everywhere and it’s killing me. If you meant what you said yesterday, I’d love to stay with you guys for a while.”
Before I got a chance to say anything, Owen was dragging her suitcase inside. “Of course you can stay with us. Come in, get yourself comfortable, you know where the spare room is. It’s your room now for as long as you want it.”
“Thanks.” She smiled. “This will be fun.”
This was the first time since Caleb’s death I saw my sister smile. It made me so happy but I knew she still has a long road of healing ahead of her. Hopefully moving here will be a step in the right direction.
A/N: Thank you BMITJESSESUE for the travel and conversation poses 🙂