But time is not given
And time is not taken
It just sifts through its sift
--Regina Spekor, Buildings

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DWYER (Renée)

Quietly passed away in the loving arms of her family in Florida on 11/4/2039
The late Mrs. Renée Dwyer leaves behind a caring husband and a much-loved daughter.
She will be forever remembered most keenly as our sunshine in the darkest of days.
Rest in peace, Renée. You will be missed.

Can death be prepared for?

"I'm so sorry," Edward whispered, burying his face in my hair. He inhaled my scent and nudged the hollow behind my ear, while at the same time his hands wandered from my shoulders to my hips, where they then rested and held me in support.

I was only vaguely aware of his movements. My reaction to his caresses was passive.

I thought I'd been prepared. I thought I'd understood the consequences of running off with a vampire. I thought that once the time would come to say goodbye, I'd be able to hear the news and accept it, the way most daughters do when their old mothers pass away.

But I couldn't. I was not prepared.

My mother wasn't even old. I'd called her on her birthday last month when she'd turned seventy-one. The thought that she might not live to experience her next birthday had never occurred to me.

The late Mrs. Renée Dwyer leaves behind a caring husband and a much-loved daughter.

My eyes ached when they roamed over the short line of the death notice. It described the path of life I'd chosen too well to be of any condolence – or coincidence. I was sure that if Renée could read it, she would have the adjectives changed.

Phil was described as the caring husband. I was the much-loved daughter.

In other words, Phil gave Renée his love, and I only received it.

Why was I not the caring daughter? Of course I'd been distant ever since my wedding with Edward. Of course she hadn't seen me for years. But that didn't mean I didn't actively love her, did it?

Lately I'd been starting to forget the times I'd shared with my mother. It was only bits and pieces that had gone missing first, but now my memory of those sunny days in Phoenix was cast over by a large, dark shadow. I was ashamed to admit that I'd been permitting myself to forget, that I'd been too tired to remind myself of the importance of remembering…

But still, I was more than just the much-loved daughter. I had to be.

"Love?"

Edward was growing restless now. He stepped in front of me and held my face in his hands, forcing me to look up into his eyes. I saw my reflection in them – the corners of my lips that were pulled down, the creases on my forehead, the expression on my frozen face. I was still clutching the death notice. I wasn't about to let it go.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Edward asked, a similar expression to mine taking over his features. I suddenly felt guilty for giving him this pain.

"The death notice," I told him, trying to lessen his grief for my own unhappiness, "Read it."

He gently picked the piece of paper from my hand and read through it, taking longer than he should in an attempt to show me how seriously he took my sorrow. My heart swelled with love for him, but I did not manage a smile.

"Is there something unusual I should see here?" he finally asked, looking very apologetic.

I reached for the paper and he handed it to me at once, once again placing his hands on my hips. I ignored the gesture and pointed at the wounding line.

"'The much-loved daughter'. That's all I was to her in the end, Edward. A daughter that had ceased to love her, but who'd never stopped being loved."

I stopped when I saw Edward's face freeze into a mask of sadness. I realized a second too late what my words were doing to him – they were stirring anew the waters of his guilt that I had taken years to bury beneath my eternal love. Guilt for taking me away from my family where he believed I belonged.

The instinct to end his pain rose over my own, and I hurriedly placed my hands around his head and leaned in for a sustained kiss which he returned first with hesitance, then with pure passion. Lust was always the best form of consolation, I had found.

It was only when Edward started tugging at my clothes that I was forced to end our ferocious kiss.

"Not now," I explained when he raised his eyebrow in silent question to my rejection.

I had other matters to attend to.

For one, I needed to make sure my mother got a decent funeral. Her pension fund would not allow for a too fancy fest, and though I did not intend to make a big show out of her death, I had the means to make her funeral into something that she'd have enjoyed. It had to be something simple but classy, serious but not all too severe. If there was one thing I remembered about Renée it was her playfulness, and I was determined not to let that character trait be forgotten at her last memorial service.

Even if I'd only been the much-loved daughter in the last of her years, I wouldn't allow that mistake to continue to her afterlife. Wherever my mother was, she would look down on me and be proud, and I'd prove to her that I'd loved her, regardless of the many years I'd spent avoiding her.

And above all I hoped that wherever she was, she would finally understand.