Disclaimer: 'Nough said

A/N: Hey, I'm not immune to real life guys, ya know? I'm really sorry about taking so long for this. It was never my intention to disappear for awhile. I had and still have a lot of things going on right now so writing kind of took a backseat and because of that I lost my muse for awhile. If you read The Roses please be patient. The chapters for that are meant to be long, so it'll take me longer to get something posted for that once I get down to writing it. As usual I'm sorry for any typos. I'm sorry for taking so long to get this to you but here it is.

Chapter 8 – Anyway

April 27th, 2015 Monday

Grace stood on the gravel of the narrow roadway for a long time, staring ahead. She knew the exact spot she was staring at. She had memorized this spot. Stone was already exploring around a large tree that was set off near a clearing of unused space. Grace kept an eye on him but her focus was in front of her.

She hesitated, not unsure of herself, but saddened. She started walking forwards. The blades of grass that hadn't been cut since it had rained the past three or four days were cool and damp against her ankles as she walked. It was soft, the ground not having dried yet from it's cleansing.

It figured that the day she chose to visit would be cloudless and full of bright warming sun. But the warm from the sun was superficial. It could heat up her skin but her heart was still heavy and the sadness made her shiver slightly.

Grace sent a glance towards Stone. The 8-year-old was playing with a baseball, alternating tossing it in the air and catching it and trying to scale the tree. She turned her eyes away and back to look straight ahead. She had to stay on task or she was going to chicken out. She hadn't been here since that day a year ago.

Once she reached her destination, she stood there for a long time. She stared at the object in front of her that was only knee high and yet held so much of her pain and anger. It was amazing that a slab of engraved marble could cause so many flooding emotions. Grace fought them all away with a deep breath.

It took a few minutes for her stiff, tightened muscles to relax just enough so that she could bend at the knees. She stayed crouched for a long time, not moving anymore than that. After a little while, her knees started to ache but she ignored the pain for another few minutes. Finally she gave in and sat down in the grass. It was damp but not overly wet. She didn't car anyhow. Her eyes were fixed on the marble.

Grace tried to picture what he would say about it if he were sitting here. It's a metamorphic rock you know, she could almost hear him say, his voice serious and yet still joking as he spoke. He'd have known that this fact would have bored her, though she would have watched him as he spoke because she had gotten used to getting lost in how much he could ramble about something as simple as a kind of rock. She would never dare have admitted this out loud but the sentiment was there when she'd cut him off midway through a rant to pull him in for a kiss. She knew that he understood it too, though he'd never said a word about it. Resulting in a metamorphism of limestone. It's mostly composed of calcite. And he's ramble on. He'd tell her the chemical compound and talk about things like calcium carbonite and kinds of marble, construction and industrial uses for it.

Just as quickly as she had started melting away into the listlessness that had been overcoming her at will over the past year. It claimed her in the middle of the night when she'd roll over to the empty pillow and cold sheets next to her. Her hand would glide gently across the space that he should have been occupying. She wouldn't cry during those times. Not often at least. The Anguish set in, during the first few moments when she awoke in the morning and forgot what had happened. For a few blissful seconds she'd stretch and contemplate what to make for breakfast and what to do for the day. And then reality would slap her across the face. Her body would slump back to the edge of the bed. She'd reach out and take a hold of the gold necklace that hung around her neck. It contained a small gold band on it. It was to remind her of him. Staring off into space she would fiddle with it for a while. Usually Stone came in to interrupt her before too much emotion had time to bubble to the surface.

The despondency often gave way to fury though. The saddened fed into it until it overcame her. She often felt the need to lash out and break things. But she restrained. She didn't want to alarm Stone. Stone only partially understood what had happened. He understood what had happened but he wasn't clear on why or where Luke had gone. She knew that he'd caught her in many moments of the sadness and anger. He wouldn't say anything other than four words to her as he stepped in to hug her; just a simple I love you mommy. It took all that Grace had at those moments not to break down. She sent a glance over to him. He was running after a pitch he'd sent towards the tree.

"You're supposed to be here." Her teeth were mostly gritted as she turned her head back to look at the engraved marble of the gravestone again. "It wasn't supposed to happen this way." But Grace knew better than to ever hope for a happy ending. The days between her return and Luke's death had contained many day moments punctuated with sickness, days in the hospital; ambulance rides, collapsing in public places. Admittedly, it made the good days that much sweeter though they had seemed to be few and far between. Grace let her eyes slide closed and she took a slow steadying breath. She was not going to lose it. She opened her eyes and looked at his name on the slab of marble.

"I haven't been here because I couldn't forgive myself," She cleared her throat as her voice wavered at the end of that sentence. Grace reminded herself to stay strong. She looked towards Stone. He was standing in front of a gravestone that looked ancient. Stone tilted his head as he tried to read the worn off words and numbers on it. Grace watched him for a long time, moving from stone to stone in a curious manner. "He's doing better than I am." She had been thinking this for months but had not dared say it out loud. Now it had just come out. Funny how that worked. She clenched her jaw. The last time she had been here had been his funeral.

Grace had spent up most of her crying at night by herself. Stone had been one of the only witnesses to a couple of these moments. He spent the night lying with her in bed and letting her hold onto him and cry. It had upset him to see her so upset and she hated herself for putting him in that position. It had helped that they were still living in the same house as Joan. Joan had been able to show her emotions more outright than Grace. All of the Girardi's had. They also had each other to lean on. It was different for Grace. She was alone now. Stone was the only thing keeping her moving along with every day life at this point.

Throughout the funeral, Grace had stared at the coffin, eyes fixed but full of tears that she refused to let spill. Her jaw had clenched and unclenched and she'd sent her eyes skyward to stem the tide of the floodgates many times. Stone had sat in her lap, not wanting to be as far away as the seat next to her. Adam and Joan had occupied the seats on either side of her. Both had cried and sniffled during the service. At that point, Grace was too numb to let herself cry. She just let them hold her hand and place a hand on her back for comfort. She didn't have the heart to shake either away and inform them that nothing would comfort her. They needed to feel like they were helping and she'd allowed them that comfort.

"I'm sorry." She stated to the name in the marble. She was sorry for everything. She was sorry for running away instead of being the brave one and sticking it out. She was sorry for not coming home sooner and giving him more time with Stone. She was sorry for everything she'd done to ruin their relationship over the years, and the reasons to be sorry for plentiful.

Grace cleared her throat and wiped away a lone tear when she realized Stone was heading her way. He hugged her when he reached her and Grace opened her arms to hug him back. "Everything okay, kiddo?" She asked once he'd pulled away. Stone nodded. Grace arched an eyebrow at him, waiting for him to speak.

"Are we going soon, mommy?" He asked her. He seemed uncomfortable. A sad expression crossed his face when he looked at Luke's gravestone. It made Grace's heart jump. She nodded at him slowly.

"Sure. Just give me another minute okay?" She waited for him to nod before tapping her cheek with her finger. Stone promptly leaned in and kissed her cheek and Grace offered him a small smile. "Go ahead and get in the car. I'll be right there okay?"

"Okay mommy," Stone nodded and started back through the grass. Once he reached the car, he pulled the door open and climbed in. Grace watched him as he pulled the door shut and then set about buckling the seatbelt. She smiled softly. Her only true connection to Luke and their past now was Stone. He was the only way she'd keep Luke alive for the future.

Grace looked at the headstone. "I don't know when or if I'll be back here." She stated honestly. "But I came to tell you I love you." She tightened her jaw a moment and took another deep breath. "I miss you, Geek." She added quietly. But it was time to get up. Stone was hungry and needed lunch. Grace touched his name gingerly once and let her fingers linger, but only for a brief moment. She honestly didn't know if she would venture back here. She wasn't going to make a promise to herself either way. If she wound up back here to get out any other feelings, then good. If not? Then oh well. Life led you down funny roads and narrow paths. It was hard to navigate sometimes and Grace knew you had to let more than just your head guide you most of the time.

Grace stood up. She stared down at the headstone again. Then she looked up at the sky. Of course it was sunny. Of course the temperature was perfect. Did he know she was coming? Did he have a hand in that at all? Was that a crazy thought? Grace wasn't sure. She didn't much care either. She looked back down at the headstone one last time, blazing the sight of it into her memory though it was already in there along with the last smile she'd seen on his face, the last words he'd whispered, the last breath he took and many other moments. Nothing could wash those moments away and they, coupled with Stone, were what was going to get her through each day hour by hour, minute by minute and sometimes second by each agonizing second.

Turning away, Grace walked back to the car. She opened the driver side door and climbed in, sticking the key in to turn the ignition over. She reached up and clipped her seatbelt on and then put the car into drive.

"Okay, kiddo, where do we want to get some lunch?" She asked as she started out of the cemetery and towards Main Street.

If I'da known the way that this would end/ If I'da read the last page first/ If I'da had the strength to walk away/ if I'da known how this would hurt/ I would've loved you anyway/ I'd do it all the same/ Not a second I would change/ Not a touch that I would trade/ Had I, known my, heart would break/ I'da loved you anyway/ It's bittersweet to look back now/ At memories withered on the vine/ Just to hold you close to me/ For a moment in time/ I would've loved you anyway/ I've do it all the same/ Not a second I would change/ Not a touch I would trade/ Had I, known my, heart would break/ I'da loved you anyway/ And even if I'd seen it comin' You'd still have seen me runnin'/ Straight into your arms/ I would've loved you anyway/ I'd do it all the same/ Not a second I would change/ Not a touch that I would trade/ Had I, known my, heart would break/ I would've loved you anyway/I would've loved you anyway…

AN: And there you have the epilogue my friends. Try not to pelt me with things. It can't always end happy you know. Real life does not work that way right? Anyway, I'm sorry I made you wait so long, whoever's still reading for the ending. Hope you enjoyed it though. Much loved to you all, except for KW. Violence to you KW.