I wake slow and somewhat disoriented. I feel like I've slept for days and yet that I haven't slept at all, this unsettles me.
Refusing to fully action my body just yet I move my left arm across to Sarah's side of the bed but it's empty, she's already up.
Sighing, I shift my gaze towards the shut curtains and see daylight attempting to peek in. Wondering the time I turn and look at the clock.
Huh, Sarah has let me sleep in, stra……
And then it hits me, like a tonne of bricks, stealing my breath away from me.
I remember everything. I remember everything that has happened in the past months and I remember what today is. I remember what it is that I have to do today. Today I'm laying my brother to rest.
Any energy that was restored in me instantly vanishes and all I want to do is hide under the covers and forget. If I can just forget than maybe all this never happened. If I can just forget than maybe, just maybe, Dean can still be alive.
Hmmph, who am I kidding?
I throw the covers off and slowly rise from the bed. I stretch, flexing as many muscles as I can in effort to remove the kinks from my body and make my way to the bathroom.
The sight that greets me in the mirror stuns me. I barely recognize myself. The face that is staring back at me cannot be mine. There is greasy, unkempt hair, dark, haunted, sleep deprived eyes and four day old growth, all upon a pale aged face. I not only feel like I've aged years within days but it seems I look it too.
I quickly shave and jump into the shower. My whole body is aching, it's a deep ache that goes right down into my bones and I turn the hot water on high as I can stand in attempt to find some relief. It does so little.
When I enter the bedroom again I find Sarah has been here. My clothes for the day have been laid out and the curtains are now drawn back letting in the measly light of the day.
I turn towards the window and notice the weather for what it is. I feel that it is somehow fitting. It hasn't rained in New York for over a month but today, of all days, the sky is overcast and surly and rain is continuously weeping from the dark and gloomy clouds above. It's as if the sky is grieving. It's as if it knows that today the world is burying a hero.
As I stare out through the window, a lone tear escapes but I quickly wipe it away before it can travel too far. I need to get through today and I'm afraid that if I let any of what I've been feeling out now, if I finally let any of the emotions that have been churning inside me even come near to the surface I'll never make it, I won't be able to stop. I'll drown.
I return my attention to the clothes that lay before me. They are black, dreary and reeking of depression. Putting them on just seems to draw me closer into the depths of an unescapable void that wants to consume me, destroy me. The only thing that is stopping it from getting it's clutches on me is the one thought and one thought only that continues circling in my head.
This is for Dean.
Entering the kitchen I see my children already eating their breakfast. They have both been so brave through all this, stronger than I could imagine possible but still I'm afraid. I fear that the time will come when they will falter, when they will break and I just hope that Sarah and I can pull them through.
Katelyn has just been amazing so far. She has shown us such great inner strength that I can only believe that it's another Dean trait that she has inherited. She has cried but she has also been able to pull herself together when needed to be there for Jayden and even Sarah and I.
And Jayden, I know that he understands that Dean is gone but he is struggling to comprehend why it is that he can't come back just like he has every other time. I want there to be an easier way to get them both through this but right now I am barely getting through this myself and I don't know what it is that I need to do for them.
"Morning Daddy." My children say in unison and bring me back from my inner turmoil.
"Morning." I sigh as I sit down at the table.
No sooner have I sat, a plate piled high with pancakes is placed in front of me and my wife places a tender kiss upon my cheek.
Sarah has been my rock through all this, I doubt that I would have made it this far without her. Even though she too is suffering through all this, she has offered her unwavering support at times when I have stumbled, she has pulled me from the water when I thought I would sink and at every turn she has been there to back me up.
"How did you sleep?"
"Better." I lie although it's not necessary, Sarah already knows the truth.
A frown graces her face but she neither says anything nor moves. She only stays there silently staring at me and it takes me a moment to realise why. She is waiting. She is waiting for me eat.
I'm not hungry. I haven't been since Dean left but right now I'm too exhausted to argue the point so I just choose to give in. I give her a smile, barely a smirk, and take a small bite from my plate. Thankfully this seems to be enough to satisfy her for now and she moves on to help the kids finish their breakfast before ushering them back to their rooms to get dressed for today. Once she is out of the kitchen I empty my plate into the bin and I too go finish getting ready.
It's getting on for midmorning, not that you could tell from the current weather, when Sarah's voice brings me out of yet another daze.
"It's time Sam."
The words are spoken softly almost whispered as if she is afraid that anything louder would break me. I pause at this, maybe it's too late, maybe I'm already broken.
It's just after 11am when the funeral starts. We are all huddled under a make-shift tent that is attempting to keep the vicious sting of the rain away.
Sarah is on my right, I can hear her softly weeping, her hand is in mine tightly holding on. I know that she is trying to get support from me and return it but at this moment I have nothing to give and whatever she is offering is not nearly enough, I'm so sorry Sarah.
Jayden is hoisted up on her hip. His little arms are tightly wound around her neck and his sad green eyes have yet to leave the coffin that holds his beloved uncle.
Katelyn is on my other side, her body snuggled against mine and I can feel it tremble from the cold and her despair. I feel the need to be strong for my family, to be strong like Dean always has been, but nothing seems to make sense anymore and I fear I will fail them all.
As I let the pastor's words wash over me I finally look around to see who has come to say their last goodbyes. The crowd that circles Dean's grave is small but meaningful. It's not that Dean couldn't make friends, he could fit into any crowd he pleased, it's just that he knew that his life was dangerous and keeping people at a distance was his way of keeping them safe.
I see a few associates from both mine and Sarah's work places. They didn't know Dean but are here to offer their support and condolences and we both appreciate and respect that.
There are people here who I don't know and others I just can't seem to put a name to their face but it's their attire and swagger that makes me realise who they all are. They are all hunters saying farewell to one of their own.
I continue to scan and my eyes and finally reach Jo Harville, although now she is a Davies. Standing beside her is her husband Malcolm and their daughter Ellery. She gives me a small, sad smile in acknowledgement, I'm so glad she could come. I know that she understands some of what it is that I am going through. Ellen was taken from her only a year ago and it was Dean who had been able to offer her the support that she needed. He was like a big brother to her too and now we have both lost him.
And finally I see the man who has come to mean so much to us. Bobby. He has been like a second father to us both. He has always offered us his unwavering support at times when all others turned their backs on us. He was always there when we needed him and I just can't ever thank him enough for that.
There is no wake, it's not something Dean had wanted and so at the end of the funeral each group slowly made their way to us giving us their sympathy and support before making their way home.
Jo and Bobby wait till last before they come over to us. We all chat for awhile reliving happy memories before they too give us their commiserations, give us their well wishes and offer their support. And then they are gone and it's just the four of us again left to deal with our loss.
It's mid afternoon when Sarah finds me on the back porch. I've spent so much time here thinking over the last few months that I doubt she had to search for long.
I notice her posture and realise why it is she has come out here but there is no way I'm ready for this.
Please Sarah, not now.
"Sam, we need to talk."
I don't want to.
"You are bottling things up inside Sam."
She pauses waiting for me but I give her no reaction.
"You've barely said a thing to me or to the kids in days."
I don't have anything to say.
"You barely sleep, you don't eat, you don't………you don't anything anymore."
"What do you want me to do Sarah, what do you want from me." I ask her as I feel every emotion, every pent up feeling that is raging inside me that I have been trying so hard to hold within, fast track it's way to the surface determined on exploding out of me.
"An emotion for a start Sam. All you've done since Dean died is just sit and stare."
I give her a look of contempt.
"An emotion?" I ludicrously ask, "How bout pissed off, is that good enough for you. Because you know what I am pissed off, no, no I am God damn furious."
"No! You want to know what I am feeling than this is what I feel. I have just lost the last of my family to something that I couldn't fight. I have battled ghosts, spirits, monsters, demons, but this, this one little friggin' disease I couldn't save him from. But you want to know what the clincher is, the one thing that is threatening to push me over the edge?"
She says nothing and I don't know if it's from fear of me or fear that if she says anything I'll stop.
"I TOLD HIM HE COULD GO!"
"It's what he wanted Sam, it was the right thing to do."
"The right thing to do? How in the hell can you say that Sarah?"
"You did what Dean needed you to do."
"I should have saved him."
"You did save him. Sam, honey, listen to me." Sarah pleads as she moves towards me. "You did what was right for Dean. You saved him from the pain and suffering that it was causing him."
All anger that was pushing me before is now replaced with deep sorrow, "He has always been here Sarah. He has always been here for me and now, now I don't know how I am supposed to keep going."
"Sam you still have us."
I turn away from her and head towards the back door. "But I don't have Dean."
As I open the door and make my way inside Sarah's last tear filled question hits me low, "Do you really think that this is what he'd want for you?"
I stumble inside and quickly move through the house trying to get away from her though her words keep echoing in my head, "Do you really think that this is what he'd want for you?"
Does it really matter what he'd want, his gone now.
This thought seems to cause great displeasure to my stomach and I find myself leaning against the nearest door waiting for it to right itself again.
When it seems that I can move without the fear of losing what little have eaten today I look around at my surroundings and notice where I have landed myself.
My absent minded wanderings seemed to have led me upstairs and the door that I was only moments ago so desperately using for support is the very same door that I have found myself unable open and enter through since I lost Dean that morning days before.
I take a deep breath and turn the handle swinging the door open before me. I don't know why I am shocked to see what lays before me. The room looks like it always did. Nothing has changed, nothing has been moved, it's just like nothing has changed.
If only that were true.
I stay standing at the door looking around. The room is full of Dean and I feel so overwhelmed by it all. My eyes continue gazing over the object before me but stop when they land on one of Dean's few prized possessions. I find myself walking into the room and over to the lone chair that sits by Dean's small wooden desk. Draped across it is his favourite leather jacket. The years have been hard on it and there are now many patch up jobs on it but Dean lovingly referred to the as 'her battle scars'. As I put the jacket on I am engulfed by the sense of Dean and I ungracefully sag to the floor allowing every emotion to spill from me. I am breaking but I no longer care.
I'm startled when warm arms slide around my neck and a small body crawls into my lap. I realise that I was so overtaken by my emotions that I had completely let my guard down allowing my children to sneak up on me.
Dean would have my ass for this.
"Daddy why you cry" Jayden ask me peering up from my lap worry and sadness in his expression, "Is it cause Unkie Dee is gone way?"
I nod and let a small smile slip onto my face slightly amazed that at no matter what age kids can be so instinctive.
"Yea little man, I guess I'm just missing him."
"Me too," he pauses as if deep in thought, "can we go see him?"
His innocence overwhelms me and I need to wait a moment to compose myself before answering.
"It's not a place where we can go J."
Tear filled eyes look up to me and his bottom lip trembles, "but he will be lonely."
I gather Jayden into my arms hugging him tightly, "no baby, Dean won't be lonely he has Grandma and Grandpa Winchester looking after him."
"But, but I want Unkie Dee with us" he cries and I clutch him closer to my chest as the tears begin rolling down my face again.
"Me too baby, me too."
"Daddy don't cry, its ok." I hear Katelyn try to soothe me and I look up to see her innocent face bathed in seriousness, "Deanie isn't really done."
Jayden peers up from my chest and looks towards his sister, " I don't want him gone."
"Katelyn!" it comes out gruff but I need to warn her, putting such ideas in Jayden's head wasn't going to help is any.
"No Daddy, his not. He told me so."
As shiver runs down my spine as her words sink in. Oh God, what if she has seen his ghost. Please don't make me go through that.
I have to swallow back the bile that has risen in my throat before I can ask, "When, when did he tell you that?"
"The day he told me he was sick and was going to have to leave us."
I don't say anything as relief swamps me but I gesture for her to continue.
"I told him that he couldn't leave us that he couldn't go but he told me that just because we couldn't see him anymore doesn't mean he wouldn't be with us."
"What…you mean?" Jayden asks in-between sniffles.
Katelyn now turns her attention from me towards her brother, "Deanie promised me that he would never really leave us and if we wanted to see him we just had to do one thing."
"Close your eyes and just think about him and he will be there."
Jayden does as he is told and I watch in amazement as his sorrowful faced is quickly replaced with a heart-warming smile.
"I sees him Katie, I sees him." he excitedly exclaims before turning his head towards me, "Can you see him too daddy?"
I look between my two children, both of whom are watching me intently, and its then a sudden realisation hits me. A feeling of calmness moves through me and I feel a smile make it's way upon my face, the first real one that I've had in awhile and I reach out and grab Katelyn pulling her in and squeezing both of them tightly. "Yea I can see him."
And I can.
Dean isn't really gone. His body may have left us but he was still surrounding us, me, in so many ways. Katelyn was right all I had to do was look.
He was there in Katelyn, her soul dripped of Dean.
He was there in Jayden, every time he looked at you or smiled.
And he was here, in me. In my heart, in my soul, in my memories. All I had to do was look, and I could not only see him but I could feel him too.
"Katie, J, it's time for dinner."
Sarah's voice surprises us and we all turn to see her standing in the doorway.
"Come on, before it gets cold."
Katelyn is the first to move and then reaches for her brother leading him out of the room. Sarah waits till they pass before she makes her way over to me as I begin rising to stand.
"You look as good in that as Dean did." she states as she gestures to the jacket that I'm still wearing.
"Dean would have something to say about that." I chuckle as I slowly slip it from my shoulders, "I guess I just wanted to feel close to him." I finish as I hang the jacket back onto the chair running my hand over her 'battle scars'.
"Sammy?" Sarah questions and I know she is asking if I will be alright, if I can get through this.
I turn back to her and wrap my arms around her, "We will get through this," I say as I place a kiss upon her and smile down to her, "I promise."
She smiles back as relief takes place of her worry, "I know we will." she says as she tightens her hold on me before quickly releasing, "I better go see what disaster the kids have waiting for us, don't be to long." she says she heads out the door towards the kids.
Before I too head out the door I give the room a final glance over, no longer feeling distraught about what I see but comforted. Looking around I see everything that is Dean and I think back to what Dean told Katelyn. I'm amazed that even in death and maybe not even realising it Dean has found a way to save me, to pull me from the depths of despair. It's not going to be easy, this much I know. There will be days that are so hard that I won't even want to get up in the morning but then all I have to do is look, look at my children, my wife and all that surrounds me and no matter what Dean will always be here.
Well that's it guys. I really hope you enjoyed reading it and I would love to hear your thoughts and comments so please feel free to do so.