Hi everyone. I'm sorry this has taken so long to get out – life has been a little crazy. Let me know if you're enjoying, and of course, reviews are the greatest. Anyone that has any suggestions – please feel free to send them my way!
I glanced quickly at Bella whose head was down, knowing what I was about to say and trying to shield her emotions. Jasper put his hand on her shoulder to attempt to relieve some of her stress and she took his hand in hers, not turning to look at him. Thanks, Jasper.
"His note merely stated, 'Be Happy'. In front of everyone that is here today I make you this promise, Chief. I will do everything that I can to ensure that your wish for your daughter is fulfilled. Thank you for what you have given us all, Chief. Most importantly, thank you for what you gave me."
I folded my paper and put it in my pocket as I returned to my seat. I couldn't look at my family, I couldn't see their eyes and I didn't want to hear their thoughts. All I wanted was to be beside Bella and be there for her. I sat to the left of her as she rested her head on my shoulder. I kissed the top of her head as my arm wrapped around her and it was then that I felt it. I had felt it before but it was impossible. I put my hand on her cheek and ran my thumb gently across her face. I was amazed at what I felt as my skin touched hers, just under her eyes. It was wet.
This is impossible. We aren't supposed to be able to cry. I ran my fingers along Bella's cheek and she looked up at me. I leaned towards her and whispered in her ear.
"Are you alright?"
She looked at me and at that moment she lowered her mental shield so I could access her thoughts.
'I hate this, Edward.'
"I know, love."
'I don't know if I can keep doing this. It's going to be too difficult.'
"Bella, remember in your human days I promised that I would be there to catch you if you fell?"
"Even though you won't actually fall, I'll be there to catch you. Just in case."
I placed a kiss on the top of her head as the Priest looked over at us.
"Mrs. Cullen, on behalf of those gathered here, you have our utmost sympathies. We, as a community, will be here for you whenever you need us."
Bella closed her eyes and nodded her head at the sentiment. He motioned with his hands for everyone to stand and we did so. The Honor Guard came and assumed their place beside Charlie and the Priest gave his commendation, then we heard the choir in the loft begin to sing. As they sang, the Honor Guard turned and slowly walked out of the Church. Bella and I walked behind them, her hand holding mine tightly. As we walked outside, the rest of our family behind us, Bella turned to look at me.
"For what, Bella?"
"Just for being here with me."
I smiled at her gently.
"I wouldn't be anywhere else."
Nessie came up beside Bella and took her hand.
"Are you ok, Momma?"
She looked down at her.
"I'm just fine, sweetheart. Come here."
Bella bent down and picked Nessie up in her arms and held her as we watched the car which was carrying Charlie drive from our sight. The Commander had arranged for our cars to be brought up to the front of the Church and we walked towards them to follow Charlie in the procession. Bella, Nessie and I got into the Vanquish, as Carlisle and Esme got into the one Mercedes, with Rose, Emmett, Alice and Jasper following behind in the other.
The drive to the cemetery was long, as the procession went slowly so the Officers that were in attendance could march behind us as protocol dictated. We arrived and were escorted by the Funeral Commander to our seats, but Bella refused to sit down. We were joined about ten minutes later by the rest of the extended family that were invited to be grave side with her. The Priest came to the head of his coffin and gave his blessing, commending Charlie's soul to his Creator. Once the commendation was complete, we heard in the distance the sound of gunfire. Three times. This made Bella start to shake, knowing that we were nearing the end of the most difficult part of the day. The sounds of a trumpet in the distance began to play "Taps", as is custom during a Military funeral, and Bella held my hand as her focus was on her father. The Honor Guard approached the coffin, still draped in the flag, and began the meticulous job of folding it. Once it was folded, they tucked three of the shell casings that had been fired in his 21 gun salute inside and approached Bella. He handed her the flag as he looked directly into her eyes.
"On behalf of the President of the United States, the State of Washington, and a grateful nation, we offer this flag for the faithful and dedicated service of Police Chief Charlie Swan. God bless you and this family, and may God bless the United States of America."
Bella accepted the flag from the Officer and nodded her head as she held it close to her chest.
He nodded his head as he stood at attention, turned, and then gave the orders for the Honor Guard to retreat.
We sat in our chairs for what seemed to be hours, watching people place their hands on Charlie's coffin then coming to Bella to offer their condolences. I could tell she was numb; her face was void of any emotion so I stayed beside her the entire time holding her hand. Carlisle and Esme came up to us and Esme took Bella in her arms.
"Bella, we are heading back to the house so we can receive the guests. You take all the time you need, alright?"
"Thanks, Esme. I shouldn't be too long."
"We'll take Nessie with us if you'd like."
Bella looked at Nessie.
"Nessie, did you want to go home with Grandma Esme and Grandpa Carlisle?"
She looked up at Bella and smiled.
"I think so, Momma. I want to say goodbye to Grandpa Charlie first."
Bella nodded her head.
"Would you like me to come up with you, sweetheart?"
Nessie shook her head.
"Nope, this is just me and Grandpa Charlie."
Esme nodded her head.
"We'll wait right over here for you, Nessie, ok?"
Bella took my hand in hers again as we watched Nessie go towards the coffin. She put her tiny hand on it and smiled as she spoke.
"I'll miss you, Grandpa Charlie. I promise to come and visit you lots when Momma and Daddy come, and I'll draw you pretty pictures. I drew one for you at the church with the crayons that Auntie Rosie brought for me. I hope you like it."
She turned and looked at us.
"Momma, how can I give this to Grandpa Charlie?"
Bella looked over at me and I smiled.
"Let me handle this one, love."
I walked over to Nessie and took the paper in my hands.
"This is a beautiful picture, Nessie."
"Thanks, Daddy. It's a picture of all of us. You, Me, Momma, Grandpa Charlie, Grandma Renee, Grandpa Carlisle and Grandma Esme."
"I think your Grandpa Charlie would be touched to know that you drew this for him today. Why don't we do this to make sure that it stays with him?"
I took a few of the flowers that had been in the arrangements surrounding us and lifted Nessie in my arms.
"You lay the picture down, and then I'll put these roses on the top to make sure that it stays there, ok?"
Bella had watched this interaction and walked up to us without me knowing. She put her hand on my shoulder and I looked up at her.
"Thank you, Edward."
I placed the roses on top of the picture and looked at her.
"You're welcome, Bella. Come on, Nessie. Let's give your Mom a few minutes alone, ok?"
I walked Nessie over to Esme and gave them a hug then I returned to where Bella was. I stayed back to give her a few moments to herself. There were few moments when I was thankful that I couldn't hear her thoughts, and this was one of them. I stood and watched this tender moment between Bella and Charlie unfold and I only approached her when I saw her start to shake. She rested her hand on the top of the coffin to attempt to support herself and slowly, gently I placed my hand on her back. It was then that I heard her sobbing. I moved my hand along her back in a gentle motion to attempt to soothe her, and this just made her shudder even more. She was still shaking as she looked up at me and I saw how wet her face was.
"Edward, why am I crying?"
Oh my Bella. I didn't know what to say to her at this moment so all I could do was take her in my arms and let her cry the tears that she needed to shed.
After a few moments I looked up and realized that we were the only ones that remained, except for the staff who were giving us our space out of respect. I placed my finger under Bella's chin and lifted it up so I could look at her.
"Bella, I'm not pushing you to leave, but we should go soon."
She nodded her head as she wiped her eyes.
She turned to face Charlie.
I placed my hand on the coffin and repeated her words with a few of my own.
"Goodbye, Charlie. I promise."
I held my arm out for Bella and she took it as we walked towards the Vanquish. I held the door open for her as she got in and sat down, her eyes which are so normally full of life, empty and wet from emotion. I got in and started to drive towards Carlisle and Esme's house when she turned to me and took my hand in hers.
"Why can I cry, Edward? I'm not supposed to be able to do that."
"I don't really know, Bella. Perhaps when you're feeling a little more yourself we can sit down with Carlisle and talk about it. Did you want to go to their house or would you prefer to go home?"
"I wouldn't want to burden them with all the humans that will be there. Maybe we can stop at our house for a few minutes so I can put this flag somewhere safe."
I lifted up her hand and placed a gentle kiss on the top.
"Absolutely, Bella. Whatever you need."
We drove off the highway onto the country road that led up to our house. We drove past the ocean of cars that were lined up along the driveway, and arrived at our house. I opened the door for Bella and we walked into our house. She immediately went into our Living Room and placed the flag beside the picture of her and Charlie dancing at our wedding.
"We can get a special display case for that if you'd like, Bella."
"I think that would be nice, Edward. Maybe in a few days when I'm up to going out and being around people. Let's go so I can make an appearance, then I can come back here and be quiet."
I nodded my head as I took her hand in mine and we walked towards the main house, knowing that the onslaught of emotions coming from the building would be overwhelming.