She lay in bed just as she'd been told, but she didn't sleep. She'd been here lots of times during the day, but the big house seemed different at night, and she couldn't help but hear each creak and groan as it settled around her. Then a new sound - she thought she heard a door open and close, and footsteps in the hall. Maybe she had fallen asleep after all. Maybe Daddy had called while she'd slept…
But then wouldn't she have been woken up?
She rolled back over, trying to sleep. But she couldn't. She was way too excited.
Then she heard music coming from downstairs. She hadn't been imagining things! She slipped quickly out of bed, opened the bedroom door, and headed downstairs towards the sound.
She stopped in the entrance to the living room. Moonlight streamed through the huge windows, making everything inside the room stand out in black and white. And it illuminated the woman sitting before the windows, her hair polished silver in the stark light, her features cast in shadows as she bent over the instrument held before her. Unwilling to move forward and risk breaking the spell, Terri stood in the doorway, a silent witness to the moment's beauty.
But far too soon the song ended. Realizing she was no longer alone, the cellist looked up at Terri, smiling. "Hi, sweetheart. I didn't see you there. I hope I didn't wake you," her grandmother said.
The smile seemed to light up her grandmother's face despite the darkness, and Terri smiled back. "Uh-uh," she answered, shaking her head. "Couldn't sleep. I keep hoping Daddy'll call from the hospital."
Her grandmother chuckled. "I know your parents told you – it takes a long time for a baby to come. He probably won't be here until tomorrow."
"I know…" Terri agreed. "It's just…"
She'd stepped closer during their conversation, so she could see the look of understanding dawn on her grandmother's face. "She's going to be fine, Terri. They both will."
Terri knew that, really. She nodded and then, because she didn't want to discuss her worry over her mom and the baby or the strangeness of being alone with just her grandmother, and also because she really was sort of curious, she said, pointing to the cello, "I didn't now you could play that."
Her grandmother smiled slightly at the obvious change of subject, but accepted it. "If you can call that playing."
"I thought it was beautiful!" And she had.
"Thank you, but I think you may be a little bit biased. I've never had the time to get really good."
When Terri thought about it, bits of the music had sounded a little funny, and there had been a few squeaks from the bow she hadn't noticed at the time. Still… "Well, I thought it was beautiful anyway. Sad – but kind of a good sad."
Her grandmother smiled again, but this time she didn't really seem happy. "Yeah, I find the music helps me… express things. Now that…"
Her grandmother's voice trailed off, but not before she had glanced towards the pictures on the mantle. "I'm sorry Grandmommy. I didn't mean to make you sad…"
This time when her grandmother smiled, even though unshed tears sparkled in her eyes, she seemed genuinely happy. Terri was getting terribly confused. "No, sweetie, you didn't make me sad. You make me happy."
Now completely bewildered, Terri opened her mouth to speak only to shut it again when she realized she had no idea what to say. This, for some reason, made her grandmother chuckle.
"What's so funny?" Terri asked.
"Nothing, honey. You just reminded me of your grandfather there for a second."
Terri had never known her grandfather, the famous General Jack O'Neill, although she'd heard tons of stories and in school had even seen a recording of his funeral with herself there as a baby. Which had been seriously weird. "Really?" she asked.
Her grandmother nodded. "Oh, yeah. I used to confuse him a lot, too."
Terri wasn't sure if confusion was something to be proud of or not. "And that's a good thing…?"
Her grandmother laughed. "Terri, even I don't understand half of what I say ninety-percent of the time." Her eyes sparkled mischievously, making her look suddenly years younger. "But lets just keep that our little secret – I don't wanna blow my cover."
Then Terri understood, though she found it difficult to believe. While she'd never doubted her grandmother loved her, she had never felt close to her, either. The woman was larger than life – recognized by almost everyone on the planet and even mentioned in some of Terri's own school books. The idea that her grandmother was joking with her was… cool. So Terri did the only thing she could. She laughed with her.
"Wanna get some hot chocolate?" her grandmother suggested as their laughter quieted.
So her grandmother had stood up and set the cello back on its stand, and then taking Terri's hand, had led her into the kitchen. They had stayed up late into the night – long after the chocolate was gone – her grandmother sharing stories that until then had been only facts in a book. Finally, though, her grandmother decided it was time for them both to get back to sleep. But the next day, after the baby came and her grandmother had brought her to see him, Terri's mom had asked Terri if she'd rather stay at the hospital and go home later with Daddy or if she'd like to stay with her grandmother. She'd looked up at her grandmother, whose encouraging smile made it clear she really did want Terri to come back with her, and the choice had been easy.
It had never stopped being easy, either. In the days and weeks and months that had followed, Terri found lots of reasons to spend time with her grandmother, who became her favorite sitter and her favorite tutor and even her first cello teacher. Until by the time months had become years and Terri no longer needed an excuse to go to her grandmother's house and could even drive herself, her grandmother had become her friend.
The music poured from her, and from her grandmother's cello, filling the room with her grief, shared with the hundreds who'd gathered to say goodbye. Terri had been asked to deliver her grandmother's eulogy, since she'd been closer to her than anyone else during the last years of her life, but mere words would never be enough. So she played Sam's favorite song - the very first thing Terri had ever heard her play all those years ago when she herself had been just a child – letting the cello express what she could not.
Yet in the music, and in the cello, and especially in Terri and the rest of her family, Sam lived on. And as the children of mankind spread throughout their galaxy and beyond, to truly become the fifth race, building their lives on technologies she helped develop, Sam lived on. Because while one life will be forever too short to accomplish everything, through the other lives it has touched, it is unending.