Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

I chuckle ironically to myself. (Is there any other way? I feel there must be. That there was once, if I could only remember.)

It's funny, though, because that's not true. Even from here I know I'll get though this. I'm even fully aware of exactly how I'll get through this. Which is what's funny. Or at least ironic. Because it turns out grief is a skill like any other. If you practice long and hard enough, you can get very good at it. And I am very, very good at it.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

One breath at a time. One minute at a time. One day at a time. That's how I'll get through. It's always worked before. And I've had my whole life to practice. Literally.

A sudden flood of memories threatens my carefully laid defenses. The face of a mother I can't possibly remember, cheeks stained with tears as she looks up at me, whispering my name even as she leaves me behind. A planet of billions, disappearing in a fiery burst as I'm forced to watch. A child turning away before I've had a chance to get to know who he really is, lost to me now possibly forever. And now...

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

A part of me shys away even as another whispers of my blame, pulling me deeper towards despair. Because if I hadn't been, or if I hadn't fought, or sent, or insisted... I close my eyes, struggling to silence the voice. If I give into the darkness for just one minute the fight is lost. It takes an effort, more than it should, but then other images appear. Memories deliberately pulled forth in defiance of the dark.

The curve of my mother's cheek soft in the bedside light as she sits beside me reading. The love in her smile warming me even now as she pauses to look up at me from her book and across the years. My father towering above me, his face dappled in the light filtering through the trees around us as he bends to lift me up, my laughter joining his as he swings me through the air. Because Luke was, of course, wrong about who my mother and my father really were.

Luke wasn't wrong about Han, though. I can see Luke now, standing before me in the bright sunlight of my wedding day, smiling as he tells me he knows we'll make each other happy. And we did, most of the time. More often than either of us would probably have expected. Because even arguments can be good: the meeting of minds, the play of words. And when even victory or defeat have the same reward... I skip past those memories, still too raw, to a safer one. A baby sleeps peacefully in my arms, moonlight and shadows dancing across his features as we rock together in the quiet of the night. Still safe from the dark outside.

Then comes the last memory. The most recent of all, of another child held in my arms. Well, hardly a child anymore, but still there, warm and alive even if her childhood is gone. Lost and then found, against all hope. Only I know that's not true, not really. Because that's the one thing I've learned if anything. There's always hope. Always. For as surely as there will be storms, every storm has its end. Eventually, the skies clear and the sun shines again. That's how you get through grief, not by worrying about the rain but by remembering the sunlight.

I sigh. Even understanding doesn't make the struggle any easier while suffering through the storm.

I hear a familiar shuffling and turn to find C3PO standing behind me. "General Organa?"

Is it the rain increasing or the winds blowing harder? I brace myself for the onslaught.

"It's R2D2. He's awake."

Or, just maybe, if the Force is truly with me, it's the sunlight finally bursting through the clouds.