Sleep my friend
At last be free
No, we won't forget our merriest melody
(Vertical Horizon, Goodbye My Friend)
When George O'Malley walks in Joe's Bar at the end of his long shift, the place is practically empty, save for two people whom George assumes are on holiday and of course Joe. George rather wouldn't be here. He'd rather be at home sleeping, or watching a movie with Izzie and Meredith. He'd rather Meredith was alive. But she's not. Since she's not, there's nowhere he'd rather be than with his friends reminiscing about the good times, and remembering Meredith. He sits at one of the round tables, and saves it for when the others get here. There are only four seats at the table. George knows that's not enough, so he takes three more. That should accommodate himself, Izzie, Alex, Cristina, Bailey, Joe (who has asked to join them for a little while) and Meredith, he thinks. Then he realises Meredith won't be coming to Joe's tonight nor will she be coming to Joe's any other night, but he leaves a chair out for her anyway.
Bailey is thankful today has been a relatively quiet day. It meant that her interns could catch up on paperwork and have a somewhat 'easy' day, medicine wise. She's almost thankful for Cristina's breakdown today. Bailey knew that Cristina was holding in all her emotion, and she could see how much it was affecting Cristina. She was still the overly competitive suck-up she always was, but something of her character changed. She lost her sarcasm, her sharp wit. Bailey hopes she gets it back, because she's just not Cristina Yang without it. Bailey's also thankful for Alex being kicked off the religious woman's case today, because he had time to think and consider things, and maybe he's learned to be more respectful of patients' beliefs. They've all learned things from today, and from Meredith's passing. Bailey has learned to appreciate life more, and spend more time with the people she loves, and also to be little more compassionate with patients and her colleagues. Bailey walks into Joe's bar. She'll only have one or two drinks with the others. Tonight she wants to go home to play with her son.
Alex is the next person to walk into Joe's. He knows tonight is going to be tough, tougher than today's shift. But in a strange way he's looking forward to tonight because he thinks that maybe they might be able to move on just a little bit more, and they all need it. He goes to sit down at the table.
Izzie and Cristina are last to walk into the bar. Both are soaking wet. Cristina knows that everyone can see she is crying. She doesn't care.
Joe quickly wipes the bar, cleaning it of spilled beer and other alcohol. Alex is shouting him over to the table, and asking him to bring the whole freaking bottle of tequila with him. Whenever one of his customers orders a tequila shooter, Joe thinks of Meredith. He even had one of his regular customers ask where she'd gone. "Where's that girl?" The man asked. "The one with the dark blonde hair and always orders tequila." Joe spent the half hour after that explaining that Meredith had died. The customer was shocked, completely. He said he'd had many a conversation with her. It made Joe think about how everybody has an impact on everyone else's life. He thought about the impact, as small as it maybe, Meredith had had on his customer's life, and it gave him a little comfort knowing she was a well-remembered figure in his bar. He's not going to admit it, but Joe is secretly willing the foreign couple sitting in the corner to leave so he can close the bar. He thinks the guys should be able to remember the Meredith with a little privacy. "Sorry, we're closed," Joe says when a man walks into the bar. "Private function," he adds. When the man looks round questioningly at the group of doctors at one of the tables Joe adds, "It's their function." The man leaves, as do the tourists within minutes. Joe walks up to the door, and flips the sign over so it says 'CLOSED'. Then he goes sitting at the table, bottle of tequila in his hand. "Shot for everyone?" he asks, and they all hold their glasses up.
Derek Shepherd has seen the customers leaving and Joe switching the open/closed sign. He's also seen the interns, and Dr Bailey in there, so he knows they're still going ahead with their Meredith memorial drink. He's standing in Joe's car park, mulling over going in to join them. This is the first time he has ventured out for any other reason than work, and it's taken a lot of guts just to get here. He's scared. He knows he could get into Joe's and he might just break down completely. Joe's was where he met Meredith for the first time, and it might just be too much to bear, sitting in there, remembering that first meeting and thinking about how she's never going to be here again. But at the same time he thinks that going in there and speaking with her friends, and hearing other people's memories of Meredith might help him cope, and help stop Meredith's waxy blue face being the predominant image when he closes his eyes. Maybe it will help him see Meredith smiling when he closes his eyes. He wants to go in, but he's not quite sure yet, so he sits on a wall and waits until he has enough courage to walk in there.
When they are all seated Izzie was the first one to say anything. "You know what we should do," she says keenly, "We should all go around in the circle and say the thing we'll remember most about Meredith."
They all mumble variations of 'good idea'.
"Dr Bailey, why don't you go first," Izzie offers.
"The thing I will remember the most about Meredith Grey is the way she fought so hard to try to get us to help the woman impaled by the pole after the train accident," Bailey says. "I remember that because it just showed how much she cared about her patients."
"May I go next?" Joe asked.
"One word: Tequila."
"You took mine!" Cristina whines jokingly.
There's a soft knock at the door. Joe stands up and walks toward it. "Can't people read a 'closed' sign anymore," he mutters.
"Good evening, Joe."
"Good evening, Dr Shepherd," Joe answers.
Derek walks into the bar, and braces himself for what reaction may follow. The interns are looking at him, and he knows that none of them know what to say. The interns turn to look at Bailey for the answers.
"It's good to see you, Dr Shepherd," Bailey says sincerely.
"Please, call me Derek."
"We're remembering Meredith," George blurts out nervously. He's not sure if he should have said anything.
"Would you care to join us?" Cristina asks.
"Yes. Yes I would."
Derek sits on the spare, empty chair; the one that George had left out for Meredith, even though he knew she wasn't going to sit on it. George thinks that maybe Meredith made him set out that chair because she knew that Derek would be there tonight.
"The thing I remember most about Meredith," Cristina begins, "is her being my person."
Nobody is exactly sure what this means; yet they understand the sentiment at the same time.
"The thing I remember about Meredith is how we used to sit in the kitchen with a tub of ice cream and just talk about men and life and everything," Izzie declares.
"I remember how she always tried to make things up to you and she always apologised sincerely if she wronged you, and how she was so forgiving," George adds.
"I'll always remember how she got drunk and slept with inappropriate men," Alex laughs, forgetting Derek is there. "Sorry Dr Shepherd," he mumbles.
"Would you like to say something, Dr She- Derek?"
"I would. Very much," Derek answers George's question smiling. "Lavender. I'll remember her lavender conditioner. Her laugh. Her smile. Her stubbornness. Her determination. And I know she's watching over us all. I know she's my OR. I know she's in the cafeteria with you guys at lunchtime. And I think she's here with us all just now, listening to us talk about her, and probably making a mental note to kick your ass Karev."
They all laugh and agree.
"I know she's with us, all the time," Derek concludes, smiling. He closes his eyes, and so is Meredith.
"I'll drink to that," Cristina says smiling. She looks round the table, and they're all smiling.
Derek raises his glass of tequila and says, "To Meredith."
Everyone raises his and her own glass. They all speak at the same time: "To Meredith."
The night is here, the day is gone
And the world spins madly on
I thought of you, and where you've gone
And the world spins madly on.
(The Weepies, World Spins Madly On)