And we have come now to the end. Thanks to all my wonderful reviewers and those of you who wasted your time reading this and didn't review.
This is for my sister because this tale is finished, but her script is not.
Warning: extreme sadness ahead.
No disclaimer because I don't have the heart to write anymore funny ones.
Hope you don't cry too hard, but if you really want to bawl, I'd recommend the songs "Breathe No More" or "Good Enough" by Evanescence because those were the two that I was listening to when I wrote this.
Stupid, that's what this was. Mick Olken had been pacing up and down in the hospital parking lot for about half an hour. Twenty years had passed and he was still scared shitless of Bobby Mercer.
"Evy's dying," Olken repeated to himself. "They don't think she's going to last much longer, he's not going to upset her by beating the fuck out of you in her hospital room. So suck it up and get the fuck in there." Well, he thought miserably as he walked inside. At least if he attacks me I won't have far to go before I find a doctor.
Evy's room was pretty empty considering. From what Amelia had said, their family practically lived there now. But as he peeked through the door, there was only Bobby, Jerry, Angel, and Amelia. He looked closer and saw that Angel and Jerry must have had their wives there as well, there was no way Amelia carried three purses. He had to fight back laughter at the thought of big, bad Bobby carrying the red purse with the big white flowers.
Forcing his face to be expressionless, Mick walked into the room, clearing his throat slightly to let them know he was there. Amelia smiled, Bobby looked like someone had just smacked him, but Angel and Jerry followed Amelia's example.
"Hi guys," Mick said quietly. He held out the roses he'd brought, feeling sort of stupid. "I know that it's getting close to the- the end. I just wanted to bring her something." He stood there for a moment, fidgeting as Amelia took the roses from him and set them on a table by the window. "Nice to see you all again," he said quickly. "I'm sorry that things got so bad for her. Bye."
He hurried out into the hall, hell-bent on getting the fuck away from the hospital. "Mick!"
He cringed at the sound of Bobby's voice behind him. "Yeah?" he said rather aggressively as he turned around.
"Thanks for the flowers," Bobby said quietly. After a moment, he said, "I want to apologize to you. I know it's been a long time, but I need you to know that I'm sorry."
Mick was silent for a minute, staring at Bobby in shock. "You're right, it has been a long time," he said finally. "I want you to know that I never hurt Jack, I never would have. Whatever you might think of me, I did care a lot about your brother."
"I know," Bobby said. "Will you come to Evy's funeral? Jack would have wanted you to be there."
Mick nodded, smiling slightly. "I'll be there."
Bobby watched Mick get into the elevator with mixed feelings. On one hand, he was glad that he'd made peace with Mick, taking a first step towards the forgiveness, but on the other he still felt the lingering disgust at what he'd seen.
Oh well, he thought as he walked back to Evy's room. I guess nothing's ever really as simple as 'I'm sorry'.
- - - -
Bobby felt like everything inside him was quivering. There could be no mistake at this point. It was down to a matter of days before Evy was gone forever. Sitting in her dark hospital room, Bobby felt like he was so alone and for a moment he understood the blinding fear that gripped Evy. Death was a horribly lonely thing, for the victim and the survivors.
So here it is again, he thought bitterly as he took Evy's hand. Three brothers waiting for someone to die.
All at once, he felt Jack's presence in the small room. There are four of us, Bobby, Jack seemed to whisper in his ear.
Not for much longer, Bobby thought. He was pretty sure that once Evy was gone, Jack would leave. He'd be gone again, leaving them just like he had left Evy, how Evy was leaving them.
Bobby sat next to Evy, holding her hand. How much longer? he wondered again as her limp body shuddered in pain. How much longer did she have of this pain before it stopped?
Not long, he could tell that much. Her fingers were cold and lifeless in his own, the skin clammy. Her eyes looked bruised and her lids fluttered every so often with the agony she was feeling. Evy's smooth young face was now etched with pain, small wrinkles from clenching her eyes and teeth would be there forever.
Not that she'd ever have to see them. Bobby was grateful for that at least. He watched the heart monitor as the lines became smaller, the jumps shorter. This couldn't be happening again. He couldn't be sitting with his brothers helpless to stop the inevitable.
"This isn't right," Angel said suddenly, tears heavy in his voice. "This isn't how it was supposed to be. We didn't give her enough. We didn't get a chance to do enough for her. We should have had that chance."
Jerry shook his head, wishing that he could cry. The last three months had taken all his tears and he didn't have the power to cry anymore. "We gave her everything she could have ever wanted," he said quietly, his eyes fixed on Evy's pain-marked face. "We gave her a family that'll be here at the very end so that she doesn't have to die alone and unloved."
"That's what we gave Jack," Bobby told them quietly. "We gave him brothers who stayed even when there was no hope."
The only difference between then and now is that Jack died in my arms, Bobby thought, staring down at Evy's thin hand in his. And Evy's going to die in my hands. But there would be no screams this time, no helpless pleading. Only the silent, creeping death that stole light from the world.
"Why couldn't we save them?" Bobby asked softly, his voice shaking with desperate sadness.
Jerry thought back to what Camille had told him the night they met Evy. "No one can save everyone, Bobby," he said quietly. "Not even Mom. Sometimes the only thing we can do is let go."
Angel and Jerry sat on the bed with Bobby, all of them watching Evy's face, all of them conscious of Jack's presence around them. They didn't even hear the heart monitor go off or see Dr. Alexander come in and quietly switch off the machine. They only had eyes for Evy, for that beautiful lively girl who had filled the gaping void that Jack had left in them. She was gone, the broken body on the bed no longer held her captive. Just like Jack, Evy had disappeared from the world: silently, surrounded by family, and much too soon.
- - - -
Bobby looked down at the letter in his hands so that he could avoid looking at the crowd who sat before him. It was raining, the drops tapping softly on the tarp that had been stretched over the gravesite. Read it, Bobby told himself. These are her last words, keep it together and read them.
He cleared his throat. "Evy left a letter for us, one that she wanted us to read to all of you," he paused, looking around at all the tear-stained faces around him. "So, here goes.
"To my family and friends-
I'm so sorry that I had to leave your lives so quickly. I don't think thirteen years would have been enough time to spend with you, less than one year seems terribly inadequate."
Jerry fought back tears as he looked at his daughter. Amelia hadn't spoken, hadn't cried since Evy had died. He wanted to shake her, force her to understand that it was Evy who had died, not her, but in his heart he envied her. He was jealous of the fact that Amelia had so much more to remember of Evy than the rest of them did.
"It's important to me that you all know that I regret nothing in my life except for the fact that I didn't say 'I love you' to the people I care about nearly enough. It seems that sometimes we can't tell people things when they're here, we have to wait til we've lost them forever before we can make the words come."
Bobby looked up, his eyes finding Mick Olken in the back row. The man was crying and Bobby wondered fleetingly if he was wishing that he'd said something to Jack before he'd been lost forever.
"Since I'm not there anymore, I know that all my words are empty somehow. Some of you probably wonder what the good is in knowing that I loved you if I'm not around. That's what got me for a long time, but knowing is what really matters. I know that when I die, I won't be alone. I want you all to know that when you grieve, you won't be alone. The people we love never really leave us behind. They're always there, just out of sight, but always within reach."
Angel hugged Jake as the little boy cried. This was so hard. Why did everything have to be so hard? Why couldn't Evy have lived an easy life? One filled with love and family and every wonderful thing that she deserved. She was worth more than the life she'd been given.
"The last thing my father ever did was tell me that he'd be back. Even now that I know he's gone, I never really stopped hoping. I wanted him back so much that it took me a long time to realize that I had never forgiven him for leaving in the first place. I don't want any of you to feel that way. I lived my life, I was truly, blissfully happy for months on end which is more than most people could say. Don't spend too much time thinking about everything I didn't get to do, I didn't think about it at all when the end came near. I approached the darkness with peace. I looked in the mirror one day and I knew that I was forgiven. Not forgiven by others, but forgiven by myself, and that's all that really matters in the end."
Bobby paused, thinking about the day he'd sat down to find the letter. He'd tried everything to get into the file. When he finally figured out how to get a password clue, he'd almost burst out laughing. The clue was "I am . . ." and Bobby knew immediately that the password was "forgiven". Somehow it had made everything that much sadder knowing that all she had really wanted in life was to be forgiven. He wondered if he'd ever told her that he could forgive everything of her because he loved her so much.
Jerking himself back to the present, Bobby continued.
"Though everyone I met made an impression, there are only a few that I'm going to address personally in this letter. These are things that need to be said and I know that if I miss this chance, there will never be another one.
Bobby looked out over the faces in the crowd, his heart aching for the ones he knew he wouldn't find. Gladys was there, sitting with Myra Golding. Both of them were crying quietly, hands clasped tight between them. The hockey team was there along with the smattering of friends that Evy had come up with in the time she'd spent at Detroit City. How he wished that he could see other faces there, more loved faces. Jack, Evelyn . . . Evy. God how he missed them now. He blinked quickly and continued.
"Chris- you were the first person I let in, the first stranger that I allowed to love me. You completed me, filling a void that I'd never noticed before. For that, I thank you and love you more than you can ever imagine.
Chris stared blankly at Evy's coffin, tears rolling slowly down his face. Bobby wondered if she had ever said "I love you" to him. There was so much about Chris that he would never know. Did he love her? Did he think that she loved him? Where would things have gone if Evy had lived? Bobby felt a surge of pity for the young man sitting before him. Chris looked so lost. He was staring at the gleaming wooden coffin as if hoping that Evy would spring out of it and go on about her life being happy. How he wished there was some comfort he could give.
"Amelia- I'm sorry that I left you. I'm sorry that we didn't have years to get to know each other. All those stolen years of our childhood that we can never get back, those would have been the best. Don't forget to live cuz. I can tell you from experience that death is cold and lonely. You're better than that."
Jerry looked at his daughter and relief spread through him. Amelia was crying, her eyes watching the rain falling like tears outside the pavilion. "You're better than that too," she whispered, her voice breaking with sadness.
"To my Uncles Bobby, Angel, and Jerry- thank you for being with me at the very end. Even though I haven't reached that point as I write this letter, I know you'll be there. I wish that this hadn't happened, that you hadn't had to lose another Mercer. Stop blaming yourselves. People die just like people are born, life goes on no matter what. Forgive yourselves."
The brothers looked at each other, pain moving in a current between them. God how they missed her. She was barely gone and already they felt like the world was darker, less alive than before.
"And to Jake- Play hockey when you're tired, argue with your parents, smart off to teachers and never, ever forget that everything, good and bad, makes life worth living.
"I love you all. Grief is like everything else. In the end, this too shall pass. Go out and live, live with all your heart and soul. If I had my life to live over, I would live a life filled with passion and that's how you should do it.
"Goodbye, Evy," Bobby finished. People were weeping openly, sobbing as if they were alone. He wanted to join them, to let himself breakdown and cry the way that they did, but he couldn't. His grief was beyond tears, beyond sobbing and screaming and pain. His grief was like the tears Jack and Evy had cried, empty and hollow, waiting to be filled by something that would never come back.
He stood there, unable to move as Jerry and Angel thanked people for coming. When they were gone, the sun came out and attendants came and moved the tarp away before coming back to lower the casket.
Bobby watched blankly as they lowered the coffin into the ground. Evy would finally be with her father now. She was buried right next to him, safely nestled between Jack and her grandmother, never to be hurt again.
As the priest and attendants walked away, Bobby looked up, his eyes roving over the cold, quiet cemetery without really seeing it. Suddenly, he gasped.
Evy was standing there, partly in shadow underneath a tall tree a hundred yards away. Her face as no longer sad or creased in pain. She looked down at them with only the palest sorrow. Her body wasn't wasted and weak anymore, Bobby could tell that this was how she would have looked if Jack had lived, if he'd been there to raise and protect her. This was how Evy would have looked in a perfect world. No, not a perfect one, he realized suddenly, just a better one.
Bobby thought his heart would explode with sadness as Jack walked out of the shadows to stand beside his daughter, manifesting as if he'd never died at all. Evy looked up at him with such love that Bobby's heart ached to be a part of it. He wanted to glance at the others, see if they were watching Jack stand with the daughter he'd never gotten to know, but he was afraid he'd never see them again if he did.
As one, Jack and Evy raised their hands in farewell. The breeze that blew up warm and soft around the family seemed to carry their voices.
Bobby felt the tears start, finally free and pouring down his face like a waterfall. Goodbye, baby brother, he thought, yearning to touch Jack again, to hear him play his guitar and laugh. Goodbye baby, he said to Evy, longing for her to come back, to hit a pick-up game with the boys, to be there again.
They were gone. The graveyard was empty again of everyone except the family. Bobby turned to them and instantly knew that they had seen it too. Daniela and Amelia were holding onto each other, crying softly. Sofi clung to Angel's jacket as he held Jake who was crying helplessly into his father's shoulder. Jerry was in one of the chairs, sobbing into his hands while Camille rubbed his back.
Sometimes you're born to people, but a family finds you along the way, Bobby thought as he looked around at them. A family had found him and Jack and Angel and Jerry. Just as Evelyn had found them a family, they were the family that had found her. A family had found Evy and had been there till the end. Everything was alright, it would be alright forever. After all these months, Bobby could finally answer the question Evy had put to him once. "How far away is never?" she had asked him.
"Never will never get here, Evy," Bobby whispered, his words lost in the wind that swirled around them. "Never doesn't even exist in our family."
- - - -
Three weeks later, Bobby and his brothers stood around Evy's grave, looking down at the stone that had been placed there. Despite the sadness lying in their hearts, all three of them were smiling. After a lot of thought and arguing, they'd decided on an inscription.
When Jack had died, they'd gone through his room, looking for anything that might tell them if someone was waiting for him, but they had found nothing. Just notebooks full of ideas and song lyrics, notes that he would never play again. They had chosen the dedication from one of those notebooks.
It came from the last song Jack had ever written, one they'd found that had a strange note that finally made sense on the top of the page. It had said, "To Evy". Bobby wished desperately that he'd thought to show her that right away, that he had drug the box out of the attic when Evy first showed up so that she could see for herself that Jack had loved her. They had chosen it hoping that Evy would see it from wherever she was, so that she would know.
The brothers walked away. They were finally letting go finally of the guilt they felt for losing Jack, it seemed almost easy now. It was over and he was at peace with the daughter that he had loved so much. They wouldn't come back and talk to these graves, they wouldn't think about them as they had before. These people were gone, they weren't hanging around chunks of stone waiting for someone to come find them. Jack, Evy, and Evelyn had all moved on, and the brothers finally realized that it was alright to move on too, that they didn't have to hide anymore. It was okay for them to think about Jack and Evy, to remember them alive and happy.
A warm breeze ruffled the last of the summer grass beside the new grave. It gently caressed the chiselled words, the first to read them by only the simple light of the sun.
I wish I had stayed
I wish I had remembered
While you were still here
And you were still free
I wish I could have said
I love you.
Ah! It's the end. And what a bittersweet ending it was. Might have been a little cheesy.
Please review even though this is the last chapter and I can't bribe you with another one! Let me know if it was a good ending or if you hate it and me and you're contemplating finding me and carving out my tripes.
Thanks for reading! I hope I can write another decent fanfic that you guys will like just as much. In fact, I'm kind of thinking about continuing this a bit. Maybe making more of a fantasy kind of thing with the characters. Hmm, could work, but maybe not.
Adieu, parting tis such sweet sorrow!