I always expected to die first. Reckless lifestyle, chain smoking – everyone expected me to choke before I hit fifty. But here I am, still clinging on to it. I'm tenacious like that. Not Shera. She couldn't hold on and I couldn't hold on to it for her.
What's there to do? Nothing. I could only hold our children's hands while they cried. I thought I was too old and tough to cry, that I was past that. But I did cry. I cried until I was empty inside. The grief leaves a hole. A fucking hole in my fucking heart.
Cloud watches Cid, his face lined with age and grief, and his hand finds Tifa's and clutches on tight. He thinks that Cid treasured Shera in his own way just as much as he treasures Tifa. Cid's treasure has been taken away from him and Cloud hopes that he will never have to suffer this, that he will die first, to spare himself the pain. And then he shakes his head because he is being selfish – he shouldn't wish Tifa the pain he wants to avoid himself. He will protect her until she dies. He will be strong like Cid.
Nanaki thinks that children look out of place at a funeral. Younger and older, they watch bleakly, their youthful faces clouded with grief. Black doesn't suit them. Nanaki is the only spark of living colour, but he bows his head respectfully.
Cid passes him, pauses, thanks him for coming in a hollow voice. Nanaki looks up.
"You'll see her again, you know," he says. "The bond of love transcends life and death. Your spirit will find hers in the Lifestream."
Normally, Cid would dismiss this stuff as cosmic nonsense. But today, he smiles and his thanks this time is genuine.
"I'm cold," says Rose. Dad hugs her, envelops her in his warmth, but that doesn't help, because it isn't the wind making her shiver. The cold is inside her and her breath comes out in puffs of smoke.
Mom must be the coldest of all, she thinks, her heart clutching painfully. Cold, white, lifeless, encased underground. Condolences mean nothing, because her mother is dead.
She knows that Dad feels the same – he feels warm, but he's shaking, shaking and tears drip down his face. Love hurts so much; it pierces them through, but they wouldn't have it any other way.
I'm surrounded by life. The very spirit of the Planet is life. I take my memories with me to enrich the Lifestream. I lived – through love and joy, through pain and grief. There are so many stories for me to tell. I remember and I smile.
And you, Cid, share my story, like a shining thread intertwined with mine. All those moments we shared: gazing at the stars, riding an airship, making love. Together we weave a tapestry of memories. I cannot tell my story without you.
I'll wait for you, my love, like I always did. Take your time.