I slept through the night, calm and uninterrupted. It was the first time in days that I had slept through the whole night. Maybe perhaps the reason why I slept so peacefully was because I was in my mom's bed. When I woke up Saturday morning, I felt much more rested, emotionally, mentally, and physically. I needed to be; today was my mother's funeral. Immediately, I felt the sadness and nerves rise within me because I knew this would be so emotional and so draining. I knew I would cry and I was sick of crying and sobbing. I think I cried everyday since I arrived in Savannah. I got up and walked up to the window seat. I sat down and saw that it was a bad day, weather wise. Gray clouds, a light rain started to come down. I started to worry a little bit about the rain. I hope it didn't downpour into the night because I had to scatter my mom's ashes. It was then that I realized that I hadn't gotten the music together for that evening. Since I only had an hour and a half until the funeral, I quickly made the bed, showered, and put on my black suit. I walked down to the living room and sat down on the couch. On the coffee table was the CD player that was practically by my mom's side throughout her illness. I opened the CD player and took out the CD that was in there. In addition to talking about funeral arrangements, Mom mentioned to me that she wanted this CD played in the background as I scattered the ashes. . On it, it said, "Inspiration" That was music was to her, inspiration. Along with prayer, music gave my mom courage and strength to face her cancer. I popped the CD in the player again to listen to it. The first song started playing.

You can spend your whole life building
Something from nothin'
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway

You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway

God is great
But sometimes life ain't good
And when I pray
It doesn't always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway

This world's gone crazy
It's hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway

You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
In a moment they can choose to walk away
Love 'em anyway

God is great
But sometimes life ain't good
And when I pray
It doesn't always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyways

You can pour your soul out singing
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway
Yea - sing it anyway

I sing
I dream
I love
OH Anyway

That song brought me to tears. That song summed up my mother's life in 4 minutes. She sang, she dreamed, she loved.

You can pour your soul out singing
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway
Yea - sing it anyway

Mom dreamed of becoming an actress and even though she never went beyond local theater and TV, she dreamed anyway. She wanted to be Linda Ronstrandt, but she only was able to sing in church. But she sang anyway.

You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
In a moment they can choose to walk away
Love 'em anyway

Mom loved my father from the bottom of her heart. She cared for him with a devotion that I ahd never seen before. She put her dreams on hold to be a good wife to him. And how did he repay her? He left her. He left her by leaving a note. Naturally, Mom had hard feelings towards Dad but undernearth it all, she still loved him and she still loved people.

God is great
But sometimes life ain't good
And when I pray
It doesn't always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyways

Mom always held onto her faith in Christ. She prayed everyday. And when she got cancer, she prayed to get better. And even in her final days, she still prayed, even though she knew she would die, she still prayed. In the eyes of others, she should have cursed God. But she didn't. She relied on Him all the more. She prayed all the more.

That was my mom. She loved anyway. She dreamed anyway. She prayed anyway. She lived anyway. And that's what I hoped people would know about my mom today at the funeral.

As I listened to the rest of the CD, Uncle Tom walked into the room and said, "Your father just called. He wanted to talk to you, he wanted directions to the church."

I shut off the CD and retorted, "Well, I don't want to talk to him. I have nothing to say to him." I got up and walked onto the porch.

Uncle Tom walked out and joined me viewing the activities of the beach. The lifeguards had just arrived and were setting up their posts.

"Whenever I see those lifegfuards, it reminds of your mom and I. We were lifeguards starting the summer I was a freshman and she was a sophmore. And we were lifeguards every summer until we graduated college," he said. "Do you remember the summers you spent here, Shawn?"

I smiled at those memories. "Yeah, I had the best time here when I was a kid, swimming, surfing, building sandcastles. It was awesome hanging out with everyone."

"Including your father," he said.

I rolled my eyes and asked, "Can you please not mention him, Uncle Tom? I still angry at him for last night."

"Yeah, I think we all know how angry you were. In fact, I think all of Savannah knows how you felt," he said.

"Well, he did nothing for Mom," I said, pacing the porch. "He never bothered to ask me how she was. He never called her. He never flew out to see her."

"Yes, he did," Uncle Tom said.

I stood there, stunned. "What? What do you mean?"

"Maybe you should ask him," Uncle Tom said.

"No, I'm asking you," I said, grabbing his shoulder.

Uncle Tom and I sat down on the porch swing. "About a month ago, I drove out to visit your mom and talk to the doctors. Anyway, I came to the house and saw your father here. I couldn't believe it, myself. I hadn't seen your dad since your parents divorced. I was expecting the two of them to be fighting but….they didn't. They had a wonderful conversation."

"What did they talk about?" I asked, softly.

"Well, he apologized for not being there for her when she needed him," Uncle Tom said.

"That's a start," I said. "Did he explained the reasons?"

"I didn't hear the reasons, I had just come in when he said that," Uncle Tom explained. "But did they talk about other things."

"Like what?" I asked.

"Everything," Uncle Tom, as Aunt Suzie came outside and served us coffee and toast. "They talked about their courtship, their wedding, their honeymoon, their son-----"

"And how much I disappointed him," I interrupted.

""No, your dad said nothing of the sort," Uncle Tom said, softly. "Your mom told him how much you've been helping her, how you flew out every weekend, how you took care of her, how you sat with her, prayed with her, talked to her, listened to music with her. She said how proud she was of you and that he should be, too."

"And what did Dad say about that?" I asked.

"He said, 'I sure am,'" Uncle Tom said.

I sat there, shocked. "He said he was proud of me?" I repeated.

"Yeah," he said. "Very proud. He said that you may not have become a cop like he wanted but you became the man that you needed to be."

Tears were in my eyes as I heard that. My dad was proud of me but he never said that to me. I hope that one day he would sat that to me.

We left for the funeral a few minutes later. I walked into the church and saw the urn on the altar that contained my mom's ashes. I walked up to it and stroked the urn. The urn looked amazing; it was blue and silver, just like my mom wanted it. Next to the urn, I saw her brown Bible. A few feet away, I saw the two collages (Katie had bought another one last night) and I saw all the flowers from the night before. However, on the altar laid my flowers, Uncle Tom's flowers, my cousins' flowers, and those red roses. I still did not know who sent them. I had asked Uncle Tom about the roses and he didn't know either.

Gus, Katie, Aunt Suzie, and Uncle Tom came into the sanctuary. Katie walked up to me, hugged me, and said, "The church looks so beautiful."

I nodded and said, "Yeah, it does."

"Are you okay, Shawn?" she asked.

I looked down and said, "Katie, I feel so bad about what I said to my father last night. I yelled at him and I said all these horrible things to him. I mean, at first, I didn't feel any remorse. I actually felt good because I let go out of all the angry I had inside of me. But, now, I feel horrible because he said he was proud of me."

"How do you know that?" she asked.

"Because my uncle found out that my dad had visited my mom," I said.

Katie was astounded. "Shawn, when did he visit her?"

"About a month ago," I answered.

"And he didn't tell you?" she asked.

"No, he didn't," I said. I sat down in one of the pews.

"Are you upset that he didn't tell you?' she asked me.

I thought about it. "Yeah, yeah, I am," I admitted. "It just really shows me what kind of relationship we have. I mean, he doesn't think much of me to tell me that he visited my mom. And he didn't even tell me he was proud of me. I had to hear it from my uncle."

Katie sat down beside me, took my hand, and said, tenderly, "I think you need to talk to your dad, seriously."

I rolled my eyes and said, "Katie, I can't. I can't talk to my father about sensitive, emotional stuff."

She rubbed my hand and asked, "Have you ever tried?"

I thought about it for a while. "Not really, no," I answered.

"Maybe you should try," she said. She rubbed my hand, kissed my forehead, and went to another pew.

I moved to the first pew, were my aunt and uncle and cousins were sitting. Katie and Gus sat in the pew behind us. Soon, the pianist sat by a beautiful, brown piano and began playing hymns.

After about five mintiues of music, Rev. Kincaid came and began speaking. I took a good look at him, standing by the pulpit. It seemed that he was reveling, having a hard time accpeting my mother's death. He and his wife had known my mother for years, had helped her through so much with her illness. That is part of the reason why my mom's faith was so strong in her final days. Reverend began speaking.

"We are gathered here today, to honor a a simple woman who had extraordinary faith. And her faith kept her alive, kept her strong. I knew Abigail Jean Monroe Spencer for over 40 years. I've seen grow up from an insecure girl, unsure of herself to a strong, confident who knew how to handle life's difficulties. One of the difficulties she had to endure was having children. One of the first conversation we had was about family and marriage and children. She more than anything in the world wanted to be a mother. When I married her and her husband, Henry, she told me at the reception that she hoped to have a 'honeymoon' baby. She did. She found out she was pregnant, shortly after the honeymoon. However, she lost the child. Then, a year later, she got pregnant again and lost the child again. And then, on her fifth wedding anniversary, she found out she was pregnant again. And God blessed her with Shawn Michael. Shawn, your mom prayed so hard for you. She wanted to be a mother so bad. It was much more than wanting a baby, she knew the difference between wanting a baby and wanting to be a mother. She loved you so much , Shawn. She talked endlessly about you, all your accomplishments, all your interests, everything. She was so proud of you. She told me that she thanked God everyday for her little boy. Yes, Shawn, even though you're a grown man, you were her little boy. And you helped her through so many painful times. When she was sick, the first person who came to her mind was Shawn. She was worried and scared for how he would take the news of her illness. She was scared of how he would deal with her illness and inevitable death. Then, she went to visit Shawn in California to tell him about her illness. And when she came back, she said, 'Reverend, I am not afraid anymore. My Shawn told me he'd help me through this. My Lord and my son will keep me strong. My Lord and my son will be my rock.' And they were."

I closed my eyes and let some tears fall down. I felt so loved and humbled. Little boy. I was my mother's little boy and she was proud of me. She bragged about me. She thanked God for me. That is what touched my heart the most. She went to her Higher Power and thanked Him for me. To her, God sent me, just like He sent Katie. I was my mom's angel. I was my mom's rock and kept her going. And that is what hurt me the most. My dad couldn't see that, he couldn't see that devotion. And that is why I cried hard, my father couldn't see how much I meant to my mom. And then I did see. I heard sniffing. I turned around to see my father in the pew behind me, wiping his eyes with a tissue. The words of the reverend had gotten to my dad, he saw how wonderful my mother was. And he was probably regretting that he didn't tell my mom how he felt about her. But something told me there was more than that. And I was determined to find out.

The service ended 45 minutes later. We all went to a local restaurant for the repast. Later that night, I changed into some jeans and a blue-striped shirt. I gathered my mom's urn, the CD player, the Inspiration CD, the brown Bible, and a purple blanket and drove to the beach. I found a beautiful spot right by the water's edge. I sat down, looked, and listened to the ocean. It looked so calm. The waves were small and crashing quietly. The scene filled me with such peace, which is what I needed. I needed this peace, because I was about to scatter my mom's ashes. And that scared me. The reason it scared me was because it was the last step of grief for me. It was letting my mom go, once and for all. And I didn't want to. I wanted my mom here with me, even if it was just an urn. I picked up the urn and held it to me.

"Aww, Mama, I can't do this," I said, tears forming in my eyes. "I can't let you go."

"You have to, kid," said a voice.

I looked up and saw my father, standing next to me.

"I can't, Dad," I admitted. "I can't do this. I don't care what you say, but I'm not strong enough. Ok, I admit it. I'm not like you."

"And I'm glad," Dad said.

. "What?" I asked, shocked.

"Yes, yes, I am," Dad said. "I'm glad that you can feel this. I'm glad that you can feel this pain, that you can feel the love that your mom had for you, that you can feel angry at me for not being there for you and your mom. I'm glad that you let your emotions out because I never did."

"You did today," I said.

"Yeah, I did," he said.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because today, I realized how much I was going to miss your mom," he said, looking at the ocean. "I realized that she was truly gone and not coming back."

"I know, it's hard for me to accept, too," I said, picking up the Bible.

"That's a beautiful Bible," he said.

"Yeah, it is," I said. "Rev. Kincaid's wife bought it for her when she got sick."

"Umm," he said.

After a few seconds of silence followed. Then, I asked him the question I needed to ask. "Dad, why didn't you tell me that you visited Mom?"

Dad looked down at his hands. "Wow, how did you know?"

"Uncle Tom told me this morning," I said, clutching the Bible. "He said that you talked about all the major moments in your life with Mom, wedding, honeymoon."

"Yup, we talked about all that," Dad said. "But we also talked about other things."

"Like what?" I asked.

"Well, little things that may not mean much, but were important in our relationship," Dad said, staring at the ocean. "We talked about the first time we realized we were in love."

"When? How?" I asked.

"We were sitting on the beach, late at night, I had a late shift and she wanted to see me," he explained. "So, by the time I got off work, all the restaurants were closed, so she suggested packing a picnic lunch and eat it on the beach. I'll never forget how she looked when I saw her on the beach blanket. She was wearing this pink dress, her brown hair was in curls, it was flowing in the wind. As I walked closer, I saw her looking at the ocean, with this big smile on her face. At that moment, I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen."

"What happened during the date, if you don't mind me asking," I said.

Dad looked at me and said, "Well, we ate and afterwards, she bought out this little 8 track player. She started singing this song, this hymnal from her church. It was about God and love and faith. And she sang it with such soul and passion. By the time, the song was over, I was crying. And I knew, just knew that I was with the love of my life."

I smiled at my dad. "Love of your life," I repeated. "I never heard you say those words."

"Well, that what your mother was to me," he said.

"Dad, why didn't you ever tell Mom that?" I asked. "I mean, you never said 'I love you, Abby' or 'You're the best thing that ever happened to me'."

"I wasn't the kind of guy that showed his emotions," Dad said. "How I was raised, men didn't cry or say things like that. Maybe thaty;s why our marriage went downhill, because I wasnt' opened with my feelings. Whenever your mother wanted talk about things, I would just push her away because I couldn't express what was in my heart. And your mother deserved that. Your mom deserved to hear what I was feeling."

"Did you tell her this?" I asked.

Dad smiled, sadly. "Yeah, I did. I remember the last time I saw her. It was about 2 weeks before she died. I walked into the room and saw her wearing a pink dress similar to the one she wore when we had that date. She was lying in her hospital bed, her bald head covered by the purple scarf, looking at the ocean, listening to music, and smiling. That is what I always admired about her, no matter how hard life was, she always had that beautiful smile on her face. Anyway, I walked in and she turned to me and said, 'Hi, Hank. It's been a long time.' I said, 'Yeah, Abby. It has and I'm sorry.' And I sat beside her and said I was sorry for everything I had done to her; not being there for her, for not going to church when she wanted me to, for not telling her how I felt, for not visiting her during her illness, for everything."

"And what did she say?" I asked, clutching the urn to my chest.

"Well, I thought she would curse me out, tell me she hated me," he said. "But she didn't. She asked for my hand, and she held it. She said, 'Hank, darling, I have let go of all my anger and sadness towards you long ago. I forgive you for everything.' And I told her, 'Abby, I did so much to you. How could you just forgive me?' And she said, "Hank, darling, we all make mistakes, we all say things we shouldn't say, we all do things we shouldn't do. But God forgives us, always. So, I should forgive you.' Kid, I gotta tell you that got me. I lost it. I just lost it, I buried my face in her lap and cried. She stroked my head and said, 'It's okay, Hank, its all right.' And it was. I cried and I felt no shame, nothing. In fact, it felt cathartic. I felt like I was letting go of all the fear and pain I had. Well, after that, we talked about our wedding, honeymoon, you. We drank lemonade. It was wonderful. And what made it more wonderful was the end when I went over to her, hugged her, and told her, 'I love you Abigail. You are the love of my life.' She said the same and we kissed. We shared the sweetest kiss. I left the house, thinking to myself, No matter what woman I choose to spend the rest of my life with, I will never love her the way I loved Abigail."

I stood up and walked to the water's edge, still clutching the urn. I had tears in my eyes and I didn't want Dad to see me this way.

I heard Dad walking behind me and he said, "It's getting dark, maybe we should scatter the ashes."

I swallowed, nodded, and with shaky hands, opened the urn. I poured the ashes out and let them go with the wind. As I saw the ashes go, I thought of my mom. I realized that the ashes were a good metaphor for her. The ashes were free to fly around, no boundaries, no limits, no worries. That was my mom, she was free, she could be an angel, flying around, walking with God, no limits, no sickness, no crying. She was free. Now I understood when people say that my mother wasn't suffering anymore. She was at peace. She was in Heaven. She was with Jesus. And that made me feel so good. I smiled as I thought about that. Dad and I just stood at the water's edge seeing the last of those ashes leave.

A few hours later, it was time for bed. I was in my pajamas, sitting on my mom's bed, looking at the photo collages Katie had made. I heard a knock at the door. I looked up and saw Dad standing there.

"Hey, Shawn, what's up," Dad asked.

"Looking at these photo collages of Mom," I said. "Katie made them for the services."

Dad sat next to the bed and looked at the photos. "Umm, I remember this day." He pointed to the wedding photo.

"Was it a nice wedding?" I asked.

"Oh, yeah, very nice," he said. "Your uncle Tom was dating Suzie at the time and she was in college, studying to be a event planner, so she helped plan the wedding. Big church, lots of red roses."

"Red roses?" I asked, thinking of the flowers I saw in the funeral home.

"Yeah, those were one of your mom's favorite flowers," he explained. "And they were also the flower of our relationship. I bought her flowers to make her feel better after she got mugged. I gave her red roses on every date we had, I gave her red roses the night I asked her to marry me, I even gave her red roses when she had you."

I looked at him, seriously. "Dad, you sent the red roses to the funeral home," I said.

Dad smiled, "Yes, I did."

"You made a good choice," I said, smiling. "They're beautiful flowers."

"Thanks, and you did a pretty good job organizing the funeral," he said.

"Yeah, well, Mom and I talked a lot about what she wanted," I said, wrapping myself in warm blanket. "It was hard to do, but we had to."

"You know, one of the things she talked about was how close you two were," Dad said. "She talked about how you flew down every weekend and helped her, talked to the doctors, arranged for the hospice nurse, how you sat with her, held her hand, held her as she was in pain. She said that she was so grateful that she had a son like you. And I agreed with her. Shawn, I am very, very proud of you."

I looked up, surprised. "What?"

Dad laughed. "Yeah, I know that it's a shock for you to hear that but I am. I never expected you to be mature about anything but when Mom got sick, you grew up. You took responsibility, you helped your mom, your planned the funeral. You really grew up and became the man that I wanted you to become. I'm proud of you."

I smiled and said, "Thank you."

Dad and I sat in silence for awhile. It was awkward silence. Neither of us knew what to say.

Finally, Dad said, "Look, Shawn, I know you are mad at me for not helping with your mom. I hope you understand why."

I got up and said, "No, I don't. I don't understand why you could fly down to see Mom by yourself but couldn't with fly down with me."

"Shawn, didn't you hear what I just said?" he said. "You needed to grow up. You needed to take responsibility. If I came down and did everything for your mom, you wouldn''t have gone through all of this. You wouldn't be the mature man I see right now. Look, I'm very sorry that I didn't explain this to you sooner but you needed to do this."

I took a deep breath and said, "I never thought of it that way. I really did grow up during this whole thing. But there were a lot of things I learned, too."

"Like what, pal?" he asked.

"I learned how blessed I am, cause I have so many wonderful people who love and care for me," I said, tears forming in my eyes. "I learned that there is Something higher and stronger than me that has helped, is helping, and will continue to help me. I learned that I have a beautiful woman who has touched me in ways I've never felt before. I've learned that I have a lot of love and forgiveness to offer. And most of all, I've learned that everything good inside of me, love, forgiveness, strength, comes from my mother."

I thought about what I had said. I realized how true that was. I realized how true everything was. My father really and truly loved my mother, she was the love of his life, just like he was the love of her life. And that love did not go away, even after all this time. And that my mother did given me the ability to love and forgive. And to feel, to feel my emotions, to feel my heart. And I realized that I was gonna miss that. With that, the tears that I had been holding in, were spilling down my cheeks. All the pain and anger I held towards my father were spilling out in those tears. All the sadness that I had towards the fact that my mother was gone were spilling out in those tears. I turned away, thinking that my father would tell me to not cry..but I felt a pair of arms wrap around me. I knew that those arms belonged to my father. I turned in his arms and cried.

In the midst of my tears, I heard my father say, "It's all right, Shawn Michael. You don't have to suck it up. It's all right. It's all right to cry."

SO I did. I cried. I cried for a long time. And then I heard my father cry. I was so shocked, my father never cried. But I didn't care. I just wrapped my arms tighter around my father and comforted him, like he did with me, like my mom was doing. I knew my mom was comforting the both of us. I felt it. I felt it so strong.

After a while, we had run out of tears. I was so tired and so drained, mentally, physically, emotionally. I just wanted to go to sleep and I knew Dad wanted to do the same, so we said good night. I climbed into bed, snuggled under the covers, and laid my head on the pillow.

I wasn't asleep, I just had my eyes closed, so I could still hear what was going on. I heard my father walk into my room. As I drifted off to sleep, I felt him lean over and give me a kiss on my forehead. He hadn't given me a kiss or a hug in so long. And it felt nice. I felt loved and cared for. Now, that I had settled things with my father, it was time to settle things with another important person in my life. Katie.