It was sixty-three degrees on this November day in Houston, Texas, and the weather seemed to mirror their spirits. The same dull shade of gray surrounded the small group of people as they all walked slowly to the freshly dug hole. Tall, short, wide, flat stones spotted the fading green field with the cold, ugly color. The air around them floated about with a chilly misty feeling, adding to the pressure on their stiff, tense bodies. Even the few trees in the distance had frozen from the sadness. Everyone watched as the long beautiful black box was lowered into the freshly dug hole. Most were numb, and all were crying. Even the strong redhead could not hold back the tiny, salty water droplets from slipping down her pale cheeks. Eyes were focused downwards, emotions shooting in every direction. Overwhelmed from the many questions left without answers. Sorrow for the missing part of their lives. Anger at the gone for leaving so soon. Disappointment in themselves for not being there to help or to stop it from happening. They had already said their goodbyes at the service, but what use was it when the person they love so dearly had already left them?
A thirty-seven year old blonde held her head up with her folded hands and leaned into her husband's embrace. They had been married for twenty years last month, and throughout those years had three beautiful children. Each one had their own special relationship with their grandpa. Elizabeth, nineteen years old and just entering college, was his first grandchild, and as a result was spoiled rotten by him. Ryan, thirteen and enjoying his last year of junior high, had weekly trips to the football fields for extra practice with his father and grandpa. Laura, eight and in love with dance, had learned a few dances from him, which had sparked the fire with the very first step. How would her kids get used to that part of their lives being different? How would she take care of them and make sure they understood what was going on? They were older but still so so young. Their grandpa was a big part of their lives, and now an emptiness would take his place. How did you deal with that? What did they do now? She knew they were hurting. Everyone was hurting. She sighed, her lips trembling with the miserable feeling her body and mind had trapped her in. Her brown eyes darkened with the loss of her father. She had been Daddy's Little Girl her whole life, and now he was gone. She wasn't a little girl anymore, and now she didn't even have a daddy to pretend with. When would she feel safe and comfortable again? The one man who she had trusted to always be there was now being lowered into the ground, unwillingly sleeping forever in a box. Silently and unknowingly to others, her husband, Van, used her as support.
He needed her there, under his arm, to remind himself he was not alone. He was not the last one on Earth to be a part of this man's life. A better father than his own, his father-in-law had taught him everything he knew. He had been so protective of their family, and the young man knew it was now his job. He had to take care of all those around him. He had to be there for his wife and children in more ways than the older man had done. He knew the shoes he had to fill were huge, but he did have big feet. Maybe he could do it. He glanced down at his youngest children, who stood in front of him and their mother, to check on them. To make sure they didn't need him. Looking back to the coffin, he sighed and thought about all the time he had spent with this father-in-law. Watching bra commercials when there wasn't anything else to do and watching football on Thanksgiving didn't seem as appealing as it always had. They just wouldn't be as fun without his father-in-law. Weekend games of golf would not be the same without the stories of the older man's life. He would continue to golf though. Golfing would be this family's traditional game on Saturdays. Then, on those days, the man would be right there with them, commenting on how good their swings were and cheering when someone made a good score. He kissed the side of Cheyenne's head, hoping to bring her a little more comfort. Who would he go to for help when he made this beautiful woman mad? His father-in-law always had ideas for him. He was always there when he needed him, just like a father should be. He had always and would always love the man as if he was his own father. He would miss him for the rest of his life.
Being known around the world for her music, the thirty-two year old redheaded mother of two and loving wife for seven years stood strong next to her sister with both hands tightly holding onto her mother's left hand. She pulled her strength from the one woman she knew carried plenty of it around. Her husband, Wayde, stood behind her, knowing what she needed now was her space and her mother. When they got back to the house, she would spend the entire night writing number one hits, and that would be when she needed his shoulder to cry on and his arms to hold her. She may not have known her father as well as the others, but their relationship was one of the two most important to her. She still needed her father to be around. Her four year old twins, Vincent and Ashlyn, still needed him to be their grandpa. Her eyes blinked quickly, holding back as many of the tears as possible. Her father had left too soon. He would miss out on so much. Her children would miss out on knowing their grandpa. She swallowed the lump in her throat, looking down to her hands. Her father had made it to every important moment of her career. He had even bought enough of her first album to give out to all his patients, which probably helped her out a lot that year. He had been so supportive of her every move, wheither it was personal or professional. He had been there with her, cheering her on. She would tell her kids stories, and they would be glorious of his name. He would never be forgotten.
Two years into his marriage with a twelve month old baby, the twenty six year old brunette man held his mother's right hand, telling himself it was for not only his sake but her's as well. He would learn to always make time for his kids exactly like his dad had done. His father had always found the time to spend with him, but now he was left with all the time in the world. He would have gladly given up some of that time to have his dad back for a least a few more years. He wanted to go fishing and take men only camping trips. A tradition they had promised to start once his son, Matthew, was a few years older, and his wife, Jennifer, could handle him for a weekend by herself. A trip that the younger boys would have had to earn. Who did he do that with now? His brother-in-law? It wouldn't be the same. Now, who's house were they going to play poker at on Friday nights? Who's house would be the one the men went to when they were kicked out of their own by their wives? Who's house would be the next one with a pool? He didn't know, and at this point just wanted his father to be standing next to him. Anywhere but in that box. He didn't even get the chance to go to his father for help like Van had been able to do. He wanted that. He wanted his father to show him the tricks of golf he had yet to master. He wanted to get to know the side of his dad he wouldn't have seen until a few years later. Why did he have to go so soon? No one was ready, and Jake knew it would take forever to recover from his death.
The oldest blonde, fifty to be exact, could feel her whole body shaking slightly with the tears. She held her nineteen year old son's hand gently, glad he was leaning on her shoulder. She needed him there to prove she still had some control over herself. It may have been twelve years since she divorced the tan man with bird legs, but she still felt the loss of a husband. Someone she had spent most of her time with and told plenty of her secrets to. She had lost a man who was very special to her. He showed her what it was like to be so committed to one person. He gave her their son, and for that she would always love him. She took a deep breath, and dared a quick glance at her best friend. It caused her more pain. Reba had been the closest to him. She would not even try to imagine what her friend was going through. Instead, Barbra Jean would focus on her son and helping him through college.
His favorite redhead, coming up to her sixtieth birthday, took deep calming breaths as she watched the love of her life for forty years disappear. Forever to be gone. She stood tall and strong, every inch of her portraying control and strength. All of her, but the tears slipping away from her eyes so freely and fast that she did not bother to wipe them away. Why should she wipe them away? Only more would come to fight the battle. She tuned out the words of the preacher, forcing the man in the coffin to jump out with his beautiful cocky smile and shining blue eyes. Oh, how she would miss that smile and those eyes. How did she go on without him by her side? Of course they weren't married anymore and hadn't been for twenty years, but he had always been there. When she needed someone, he knew just what to do. How did she move on now with him gone? She may have been the stronger of the two to many around them, but even the stronger ones needed a pillar to stand on. And that was exactly what the man was. Her pillar to keep her far out of harm's reach. She had missed him the instant she knew he was gone, and it had only intensified with every passing second. She had prayed it was all a joke so, she could yell at him for being such a jerk, and then tell him how much she loved him. She prayed for anything but what was in front of her now. They were suppose to grow old together. He was suppose to be jealous every time she thought she'd found Mr. Right. He was suppose to protect her and keep her alive. She needed him here to feel safe again. She would never love anyone as much as she did that man, and in her heart, they were still married. They always would be. He was her everything. He had given her everything she had ever asked for. Three beautiful kids, a big house, a wonderful marriage, love to last a lifetime. Everything she could have dreamed of when she was her daughters' ages, but now what she dreamed of more than anything he wouldn't be able to give her. She wanted to be back in his arms, to feel him kiss the top of her head while watching the ten o'clock news, to make love to him just one more time. She needed him. No one, not even she, knew how much that would be. She could only imagine how hard the rest of her life would be like now. Could she overcome this? She didn't think so. Her heart was being buried with the man in the black box before her eyes. Didn't you need a heart to live? She watched, unblinkingly, as the top of the coffin finally disappeared. She was losing everything. Even her control.
Reba pulled her hands away from her youngest children, and started to run the few steps it would take to get to the coffin. Her tears her only lifeline now. Van was quick on her heels, and managed to grab her before she slid into the hole. He held her close to his body, trying his hardest to keep her from rolling out of his arms and over the side. With her lower legs hanging over the side and rubbing against the dirt, Reba fought against Van for only a few minutes before her strength shot away from her. She gripped loosly onto his black jacket with one hand, and covered her face with the other as he pulled her into his lap. The tears forced her stomach to clench and release to the point of pain, and her throat formed screams so loud Van was sure he'd be deaf by the time she calmed down. He pressed her face into his chest, hoping it would help. He closed his eyes, holding onto her as tightly as he could. He didn't know what else to do, but listen to her screams for Brock to come back to her. To come back for her. For anything but this.