A/N: So, here's the epilogue!
Here are some ages:
Bella, Edward, Alice, Jasper—48 years old.
Rose, Emmett—49 years old.
Carlisle, Esme—68 years old.
Charlie, Renee—65 years old.
Chelsea—26 years old.
Hannah—28 years old.
Zack—23 years old.
Ciara—24 years old.
Kaylie—23 years old.
Jaimee & Caleb—22 years old.
BELLA'S POINT OF VIEW
—Ten Years Later—
I stared at myself in the full-length mirror for the longest time. I couldn't find the strength to move my nearly fifty year old body. Edward was sitting on the bed, staring at the wall. He's been like that ever since we've found out. He'd barely talk, he'd barely eat.
Hell, the whole family's like that. No one could believe it happened.
Deep down, I thought about it. Of course I did, it's a natural thing, but I never thought it would happen to him. I blinked and a few stray tears fell down my cheeks. I raised a hand a caught them before they got past my chin.
If I would have just kept him here…I shouldn't have let him go. Who am I kidding? I had to be all understanding and let him go. That was the biggest mistake of my life. It's like a part of me is missing…but I guess that's what always happens when something like this happens to you.
I smoothed out my black dress and pulled up my panty hose, so they weren't sliding down my legs. I slipped in my black heels, just in time for the door to open and reveal Chelsea and my two year old grandson, Riley.
"Mom, Dad," she whispered and pulled Riley up onto her hip, "Are you ready to leave?"
I nodded and glanced at Edward. He was staring out the window, at nothing in particular. I turned back to Chelsea, "We'll meet you and Xavier in the car."
She nodded and walked out after closing the door.
I went to sit next to Edward. He was dressed nicely. He had on black dress pants with a dark blue dress shirt and a black suit jacket. His head was in his hands, he was slouched over.
"We have to go, Edward," I said soothingly as I rubbed his back.
"I could have stopped him. This wouldn't have happened," he choked.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, "We did all that we could. Now, let's go. We're going to be late."
Once I finally got him up, we walked hand in hand back down the stairs. We walked the whole way through the house without speaking. There really were no words to speak. I locked up the door and walked with Edward towards Chelsea and Xavier's car. Riley was in the back playing with some toys.
Chelsea got out of the passenger seat and allowed me to sit up there. I really hate when she does that. I'm not old. I'm not even fifty yet. Still, she somehow thinks I'm going to break a hip when I get in the back of her SUV.
When we all finally got situated in the car, we took off down the road to our destination.
It felt like the shortest ride of my life. I really didn't want to be here. I'd rather die than be here for this purpose.
Oh, the irony. I'd rather die than be at a cemetery?
Xavier helped me out of the huge car while Chelsea got Riley out. Edward came around and wrapped an arm around my waist. Chelsea came and held onto my other hand—while carrying Riley—and Xavier held onto her hand.
We walked through the thick, bumpy terrain of the Lake View Cemetery. I tripped a couple of times, of course, but Edward and Chelsea always managed to catch me.
When we got to the tented area, I felt tears start to sting my eyes. This was real. This was no dream.
Oh, how I wish it was a dream.
Everyone else was there. My parents. My in-laws. My sister. My kids. My grandkids. My friends. Everyone.
I carefully sat down on a chair in the front row, next to my family.
I stared at the coffin, sitting on a stand, looking so…beautiful. Way too beautiful for something too dreaded. It wasn't an open-coffin service, which I'm glad of. If that was the case, I would have never been able to control myself.
The men in Marines' uniforms suddenly stood up straighter and pointed their guns to the sky. It was starting.
Jaimee grabbed my hand from the other side of me, as Edward still held onto my waist.
The speaker cleared his throat and stood at the podium.
"Welcome family, friends, and siblings of this dear soldier. Today is a day of honoring him, remembering him, and most of all—respecting him. As I can see, hundreds of you have known Caleb Alexander Cullen. He was a wonderful man. Young. Too young to have this fate. Yet, he is in a better place now. Somewhere that has no violence or cruelty like the world today has. He'd be happy to see you all here today. Would the family of Caleb please come up and share their peaceful memories with the others?" the speaker asked and walked away from the podium.
I cleared my throat and got up from the seat. Edward was immediately up after me, holding my waist once again. Jaimee and Chelsea both followed us up to the podium.
When I got up there, I took a chance and looked around to my family. Esme, Carlisle, Charlie and Renee all looked like a bus ran them over. They're getting old, and this recent turn of events has made them look even older. Rose and Emmett were both with Hannah, Josh and their daughter, Madelyn. Alice and Jasper were with Ciara and their nineteen year old son, Dustin. Xavier and Riley were sitting with Jaimee's fiancé, Austin. Everyone had looks of anguish.
I took a deep breath and spoke into the microphone.
"First, we would like to thank you all for coming to this service. It mean's a lot to us—" my voice cracked. I started crying, "I'm sorry," I apologized for no reason.
Edward rubbed my back and gently moved me so he could get to the microphone. When I moved away, Jaimee immediately took my hand and rubbed circles on the back of it with her thumb. I took Chelsea's hand in my own.
"Caleb was…my only son. We loved him. Our dinners were never the same without him stuffing a green bean up his nose," he chuckled, "Whenever Jaimee—his twin—was sad, he'd do that. It wouldn't just cheer her up, it would cheer everyone up. He was the son everyone wanted. The one to protect your daughters. The one to make you laugh until you pee your pants. Or the one just to play catch with outside then watch the game on TV," he sighed and ran a hand through his messy hair, "And I'm going to miss that," he choked and I saw a few tears run down his face.
He stepped back and Chelsea took his spot.
"I remember the day I found out I was going to have a younger sibling. I was only six, mind you, so I have a fairly good memory. When my parents told me that, I secretly hoped for a younger brother—no offence, sis," she smiled weakly at Jaimee. She giggled quietly, "The day they were born was a different story. Caleb was my favorite. Jaimee didn't like me much. She'd always cry when I came near her," she chuckled along with us.
"When they were both growing up, Caleb watched out for me like I was the younger sibling. I guess that was just the brother instinct. But when I came back from Australia on his twelfth birthday, when he told me he wanted to be a soldier…that thought haunted me," she shuddered and closed her eyes, "I still remember how my Mom was when my Dad was off fighting in the war. To see her go through that again, only with a son, I didn't want that to happen. But, Caleb is probably the most stubborn one in the family. He wouldn't let his dream die down," she sighed and cupped her neck.
"I finally accepted it. I knew he would be a great soldier. At the time…I thought he would just be stationed somewhere and taught things on what to do on some kind of attack. When Nazi Germany re-evolved, I knew that wasn't good. When we went to war with Germany, I knew Caleb would some how be involved in that. When he left, I was a mess. The nightmares of my Mom screaming in the middle of the night came back full force. Xavier—my husband—constantly woke me up telling me it was just a dream. When—when Caleb was reported M.I.A., the nightmares came back, only they weren't of my Mom, they were of Caleb. I constantly told myself that he was alright…he just got lost," she mumbled and shook her head. She wiped the tears off her face.
"When I came back from work that day, when I saw I had a phone call from my Dad, I got a gut feeling that it wasn't good. Now, here I am, mourning my heroic brother. I realized that this was his way of showing the world how he can be a hero. His way was going to fighting evil. And I respect that of him. He truly is and amazing role model. And the best baby brother…" she broke off and started crying. I took her in my arms and rubbed her shoulders.
Jaimee walked up next.
She took a few cleansing breaths and began, "Caleb Alexander Cullen…what to say about him? Chelsea already got down the hard part, so I don't need to do that," she paused and people laughed quietly, "Caleb was my twin and my other half—genetically speaking. We shared everything. Mom's womb, birthdays, rooms for a short time period, we even shared the same socks. I went to him for anything. If it was for grades, he'd help me pass. If it was guy trouble, he'd beat them up for me. He was the brother everyone wanted, even though I'm four minutes older than him.
"Those two years that he was in Germany, I felt as though half of me was there with him. He'd send me e-mails once in a while, I sent him a picture of my engagement ring…" a look a realization crossed her face and she started sobbing. I quickly ran up to her and held her, "He won't even get to see me get married."
I started crying and Edward tugged us down the stairs from the podium. I sat down next to Jaimee and held her as she continued to cry. Edward sat down next to me and Chelsea was next to him.
The speaker came back up.
"Does anyone have anything they'd like to say before the burial?" he asked.
I noticed a girl get up from the corner of my eye. I turned my head in her direction and watched her make her way up to the podium.
When she got up there, I realized who it was. It was Caleb's girlfriend from before he went into the military. Her name is Megan. She has dirty blonde hair with eyes that were almost violet. It looked nothing like her. She looked wounded, tired…depressed.
She cleared her throat awkwardly and tapped the microphone.
"Hello, I'm Megan Connally, I was Caleb's girlfriend," she looked straight at us and I smiled weakly at her, "I've known Caleb since I was in the fourth grade. He helped me pick up my crayon box, and ever since then, we've been talking. In the seventh grade, we shared our first kiss in Spin the Bottle. Actually, Jaimee was the one who rigged the bottle," she smirked over the Jaimee. Jaimee lowered her head, embarrassed, "Since that night, we were dating. When he told me he wanted to join the military to be like his dad…I cried and cried." She shook her head.
"I don't want to talk about that….I just wanted to say that…I miss you, Caleb. And I'll see you soon," she smiled at his coffin and walked off. When she walked past me, I grabbed her arm and pulled her down into a hug. She pulled away and smiled at me.
"Thank you," I said quietly. She nodded and went to go sit back down.
"If that is all, it is now time for the burial. Please rise," the speaker said and raised his hands.
We all stood and watched at they lowered my son into the cold Earth.
They started playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes while two marines' folded up the flag on top of his coffin in a neat triangle.
When they finish, the speaker looked at us. That was mine and Edward's cue to get up and get the flag.
We walked hand in hand over to the marines' and carefully took the flag. Without a word, they turned around and finished their routine.
I dragged my fingers lightly across the smooth, wooden coffin when we were walking back. The marines' began to do something with their guns.
This whole time, I had tears running down my face. They wouldn't stop, and I'm not even trying to stop them.
The Military Taps began to be played on the trumpets when they began to lower him into the ground.
When he was safely secured, the marine band played the final notes and it was silent.
"We find Caleb to be a true hero by protecting his country from a potential World War Three. When he was shot by those Nazi guards, we know he did it for a reason, not just for kicks. That's what a hero is in my books. God bless you all. God bless America," the speaker said and then walked out of the tented area.
People started to file out. I guess it was over.
"Mom," Chelsea said from behind me. I looked around and noticed I was standing out of the tent. When did I get here?
I turned around and saw Jaimee, Chelsea and Edward all coming behind me.
I smiled and closed my eyes, "Do you know how many heroes are buried in this cemetery?" I asked as I lifted my face up to the raining clouds. See, even the sky was crying.
They stayed silent.
"Many. James Garfield, creators of famous orchestras, old professional team players….Many different kinds of heroes are here. And our son, your brother, is one of them. He is a hero."
Edward came over and kissed my forehead, "Yes he is."
Jaimee and Chelsea both came over and joined our little family group time.
"He's always been a hero. Saving me from monkey bars…" Jaimee replied.
"…Eating the food before me to see if it was poisonous," Chelsea said with a smile.
Edward and I laughed, "I'm just so happy to have you three beautiful children in my life. If it weren't for you three…who knows where I would have been now," I said.
"Well, you never have to find out," Chelsea said and kissed my forehead.
"I love you guys. You're my life."
"Deserts can't ruin us," Chelsea recited my words from eight years ago.
I smiled over to Edward, "No, no they can't."
A/N: Awwww, so I thought that was a good ending, don't you? Now, be honest; how many of you knew it was Caleb from the beginning. I know it's really sad to end a story, but you know me and drama…haha. I just want to say thank you to everyone who has review this. I really didn't expect to get so many compliments from something I started in study hall.
I love you guys!
Now, all I need to do is finish Love Lights Fires, and then I'm working on Let's Play a Game and All The World's A Stage!