AN: So this is it. This is the final chapter. I just want to think everybody who has stuck with this story and everybody who has reviewed. I know I haven't always replied to the reviews, but I would like to assure you that they were much appreciated. Thank you. I also want to give a particular thanks to Alice (JDElliotforever) who has dealt with me PMing her on multiple occasion with something along the lines of 'I don't know what to write next *cry*'. So, Alice, thank you very much for all the help you've been giving me with this story. :D
Without further ado... the last chapter...
Chapter Twelve: Let's Pretend That We Can Still Pretend
Let's pretend that we can still pretend
Let's pretend that we are young again
I am only looking for a friend
Let's pretend that we are young again
(Eulogy, The Hereafter)
The church is a veritable sea of black mourners, but the sun shines brightly. It could almost be a comfort, if this wasn't such a heavy day.
Turk stands in the second row of pews. He stares at the three coffins resting side by side in front of him, and he thinks of all the other times he's been in this church. They were all for happy occasions. Until today, that is. He remembers standing at the altar as Best Man at the wedding of the people they're now burying. Turk remembers how he teased JD for weeks after the wedding because he looked like his knees were going to buckle in when the music started playing. He remembers looking to Carla as if to say 'I knew they'd make it this far eventually'. Turk remembers standing at the altar once again a year later, this time for Lucy's christening. He remembers the look of pride on JD's face and how Elliot was about to cry the whole way through the ceremony. Turk remembers seeing a lot of the same people here as were there that day, and he wonders how many, like him, wonder how the hell it ended up this way.
Dan has never been the best at handling emotional situations like this. He drank himself silly the night before his father's funeral, but not for this funeral. Because all of yesterday, while he was battling with his urge to reach for the bottle, he remembered his brother telling him he had to grow up. So he did the mature thing, and didn't drink, because today is about JD and Elliot and Lucy and it's going to be hard enough without the hammered brother to contend with. Dan knows he's struggling today, because he's standing next to his five-year-old nephew and he thinks that little Sammy didn't deserve to lose nearly his whole family at such a young age. Sammy is going to have to live with this for the rest of his life, and that thought alone is enough to make Dan cry. Of all the mourners here, JD and Dan's mother isn't one of them. She said she couldn't handle seeing her son and granddaughter buried. Dan couldn't believe it. He cursed her for all she was worth, told her she didn't care about them, told her he never wanted to see her again after what she had done. But now that Dan is standing here, listening to the minister say tributes to this tragic family and praying to an elusive god for them, he thinks understands his mother's actions, and he might be able to forgive his mother, just this once.
Three pews back, Perry stands, the children in between him and Jordan. To the right of Perry stands Dr Kelso, the former chief of medicine of Sacred Heart Hospital and Perry's sworn enemy for all the time he was at Sacred Heart. He's always said that Bob Kelso was heartless, soulless, emotionless. But that same man Perry thought he hated is standing next to him wiping a stray tear away from his face.
"Things like this shouldn't happen to good people," the older gentleman says.
"No they shouldn't," Perry replies.
Perry's mind keeps drifting to the thing he knows that the others don't. He thinks of the baby that nobody else knows existed. He thinks that four people died in that crash, because had it not happened, the likeliness is, in a few weeks JD and Elliot would have discovered that they were going to have another kid, in a few months Sammy and Lucy would have had another sibling. And Perry wonders to himself whether that child would have been a boy or a girl, if it would have looked like its mother or its father or a mix of both, much like its sister. He thinks while the minister calls a prayer. He doesn't believe in the God the minister preaches about, but he prays with him all the same. He prays because that's what he saw Jack teaching Jenny to do on the night he told them what had happened. He prays for the good family that didn't deserve this, and he prays for the little kid that would-have-been. Perry doesn't know to what or whom he's praying, but he does it all the same.
Since Jack Cox can remember, he has wanted to grow up to be like his dad. And in the last few days, he's had to grow up tremendously. And since he can remember, he's felt like he's had to be the big brother figure, not only to his own sister, but to her two friends as well. For the first few weeks when he started elementary school, he watched out for them to make sure they were okay, and when they came to him because another boy in their class was giving them trouble, he made sure to give the boy a warning so he wouldn't trouble the girls again. Because that's what his dad would have done. So, after his parents told him about had happened, he knew he had to be strong for his little sister. All week, he had seen his dad being strong for his mother. Why, he didn't know, but he had seen it nonetheless. He can even see it today, when his father looks to his mother to see if she's okay and when he reaches out a hand for her to hold. So Jack knows he'll have to be strong for his little sister. Because it's what his dad would do, and Jack wants to grow up to be like his dad.
Janitor stands to the back of the church hall. He's supposed to at Sacred Heart right now cleaning, but who cares about that. It's more important that he's here. Last night, at the very end of his shift, he took the condolence book home, and he read through all the messages people had left. He thinks about them while he listens to the service, and just from reading everyone's tributes to the family, he knows it fits them to a tee. As the other mourners empty from the hall at the end of the service, Janitor thinks other people should hear their thoughts too.
In the cemetery outside, Carla stands next to her husband, holding up their daughter as she cries. She tries to be strong, she really does, but Carla can't stop herself from crying either. She hasn't slept either, because whenever she closes her eyes, she doesn't see her friends. She sees the person who killed them, and she can't bear that at all. Carla has always worn her emotions on her sleeve, but right now, she wishes she didn't because she's exhausted. She's exhausted in every way possible. From crying when she's alone, from trying to keep it together when she's not alone, from trying to live in denial. Even after yesterday, a little part of her psyche has been clinging on to the hope that this isn't happening. That she's going to wake up tomorrow and it will all be gone. Izzy will be the smiley child she used to be, and not the heartbroken one she's become. Her mind has been clinging on to the notion that she'll walk into her living room and Turk and JD will be goofing around, playing Find The Saltine or Toe Or Finger or any one of the random games they play. Played. And she has been clinging to the thought that in a few minutes, Elliot will call her for a coffee and they can talk about their goofy husbands and their daughters. But that hope, that little grasp on denial is fast disappearing, because right now she's watching as the coffins are being lowered into the ground. Three white coffins, one heartbreakingly smaller than the other two, being lowered into a shared family grave. As shattering as it is, it almost gives Carla bit of comfort. At least they're all together, she thinks.
After the burials, the mourners head to the bar where the now deceased couple spent many of their younger nights. It's decorated like a memorial to them. There are photographs of them displayed, some of them the photographs Carla found yesterday. There are some pictures that Lucy drew displayed around the room too, and every thing, picture or drawing, is heartbreaking yet heartening at the same time.
The mourners mingle, swapping happy stories about the people they're here to pay tribute to. They speak of the child who loved to laugh and play and dance. They speak of two doctors, compassionate and determined. They speak of the family's heart, their love, their happiness.
The hum of chatter is sharply interrupted by the feedback squeal of a microphone. It's the karaoke microphone that remains assembled on the makeshift stage, just because it always is and nobody thought to dismantle it.
At the microphone, a man shuffles, not so comfortable with all the mourning eyes focused on him.
"Um… hi," he nervously says. "None of you know my name, but I'm the Janitor at the hospital that JD and Elliot worked at. There was a condolence book for them and Lucy, and I just wanted to read you some things that people wrote." Janitor opens the black book carefully and finds the page that he has indicated with a post-it. "Dr Reid and Dr Dorian were with us at Sacred Heart since they were interns. They were great doctors and great people. Their passing will truly be a loss to us all. Signed, Bob Kelso."
Janitor glances to Kelso, who just solemnly nods.
"I'm really going to miss JD and Elliot. And their little girl, Lucy, was adorable too. If anybody didn't deserve this, it was them. Signed, Doug."
For a little while, Janitor reads condolences from the book, and it brings some comfort to Dan, to Carla, to Turk, to almost everyone in the room to know how many people thought of the Dorian family.
"There's one more entry I'd like to read out. It's a poem." The Janitor glances down to the book, at his own handwriting, and exhales heavily. "Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep by Mary Frye," he begins.
"Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die."
There isn't a dry eye in the room when Janitor concludes. With no further words, Janitor steps down from the stage and heads to the bar, satisfied that he's done his part for everybody.
Dan is sitting at the bar when the Janitor stands beside him to order another drink. Dan nods at the gentleman, his own silent thank you. He didn't think he'd have a reason to smile at any point today, but Dan finds that he is. Because his brother and his sister-in-law and his niece were well loved here, and he thinks they would have really appreciated this memorial to them. Dan thinks he might call his mother later to tell her what a beautiful service it was. And Brooke, too.
Towards the end of the wake, it occurs to Turk that everything he has done, everything he has thought, has been in reference to preparing for the funerals, but he hasn't seen past today. He hasn't given a thought to how life goes on after today. But he knows it will. Tomorrow will come, and they'll still be thinking a great deal about JD and Elliot and Lucy. But the days will go by, they'll go back to work, the kids will be growing up. Life will be returning to normal, and JD, Elliot and Lucy will just not be there. Turk won't have his Vanilla Bear to do goofy stuff like World's Most Giant Doctor with. Carla won't have Elliot to talk about all the girly stuff they talked about, and Izzy won't her friend in Lucy to play with and grow up with. Turk wonders if, years from now, Izzy will remember Lucy and her Uncle JD and her Auntie Elliot. He wants her too, he really does. So Turk decides that, as life inevitably moves along, he'll be sure to tell his little girl about her auntie and uncle and the friend she once had and he'll hope that might make it easier for them all to move along.
Once he takes Jordan and the kids home, Perry has to go back to the hospital. He has to deal with all the clerical work that he's has missed because he had, he wanted to be here today. The hospital still continues to run, even though so many of its staff are attending a funeral. Or being buried. Perry thinks that when he gets back to the hospital he'll call a minute of silence for Dr Dorian and Dr Reid, who were buried today along with their daughter Lucy. And tomorrow when he arrives, Perry will have to begin searching for two new doctors to replace the ones who so suddenly left them. Because as crass as it is, how horrible as it feels, the hospital has to continue on, so maybe other people won't have to go through this hell.
All the way home in the cab, Carla hugs Izzy. The little girl is exhausted, having spent most of the day crying. Crying for her friend, crying for her aunt and uncle, crying because she doesn't understand. The little girl is silent, except from the faint sniffles she released every so often as she cries into her mother's black jacket.
It doesn't take long for the cab to arrive at the apartment. Carla carries Izzy, as she has been for a lot of today, up the stairs and into their apartment, by which time, the little girl appears to be sleeping. So, Carla takes the tired little girl straight to her room, and tries to change her into her pyjamas without waking her. It doesn't work.
"Shh…" Carla soothingly says, as she tucks Izzy into bed. "Go back to sleep, sweetie. I'll see you in the morning, okay?" Carla stands up and moves away from her sleepy child.
"Mama?" Izzy's soft and tired voice stops Carla in her tracks. "Will we ever stop feeling sad?"
Carla smiles sadly, as tears form in her eyes. "Eventually, honey."
Well my friends, we've come to it,
The end is drawing near
The distant lands are calling
And we do not feel fear
All the old alleys have new little warriors
Our ghosts are finally gone
We nodded off and the world moved on
(The End, The Hereafter)