Disclaimer: All rights to these characters belong to Jodi Picoult, she's the mastermind behind them.
Summary: Sometimes I wonder if everything we did even made a difference. Should Mom have left that stupid lawsuit alone? If she had, maybe our entire lives would have turned out differently...
A/N: I've been toying with this idea for a while now, ever since I finished reading Handle With Care, and I finally decided to write it down. I absolutely loved the book, though I didn't like the ending at all.
Only when someone's heart has been broken,
Shattered into a million pieces,
Do they learn what they're truly made of.
Because it's not how they react when their life falls apart that matters,
It's how they put it back together.
I've imagined writing this thousands of times, have spent countless nights lying awake and trying to get all the words right. But in the end, I know that it will never be perfect. Nothing in my life ever has been, or will be again.
It's hard, you know. Each day without you feels like it should be our last, like the pain is too much for us to bear anymore. But then we wake up the next morning and we keep living, not because we want to but because we don't know what else to do.
At least I'm trying though, I think that has to count for something. Sometimes it seems like I'm the only one in the family who still does.
Mom doesn't do much of anything these days. After pulling you out of that ice, seeing the cold blue of your lips and feeling the frozen touch of your skin, it was as if something shut down inside her.
Even Dad, who came racing out of the house when she and I began screaming, stopped short at the look on her face. I don't think he's ever seen her look so defeated before. I never have.
Now most of the time she just sits in the kitchen, staring at the fridge where the check used to hang. I know she wonders if it was even worth it. I ask myself that question all the time. And I think I've finally decided on an answer.
Every moment, everything we went through, mattered because it showed you how much Mom cared. I didn't agree with what she was doing at the time – and I still don't – but now I'm also glad she did it. I'm glad you got a chance to see just how much we would do for you, how far we would all go to do what we thought was best.
And in your own way, I think you understood that. Or at least, I hope you did.
Sometimes I wonder if you really knew what was going on during the trial, if you could even comprehend what people were saying about us, about Mom. I'm not sure you did. I mean, you were smart and all – the smartest kid I've ever met – but surely some things still went way over your head.
But maybe I'm wrong, and maybe you knew exactly what was going on. Maybe that was your last thought as you sank deeper and deeper beneath the cold, icy surface. God, I hope not. I wouldn't want your last memory to be of Mom saying she didn't want you, or of her and Dad fighting.
I tell myself that you were probably thinking more of your stupid facts.
A dog's shoulder blades are unattached to the rest of the skeleton, allowing greater flexibility for running.
The United States has never lost a war in which mules were used.
Sugar was first added to chewing gum by a dentist in 1869.
But what good did those facts do when your air supply was slowly running out, when you were struggling for air, in the last few seconds before everything faded away?
I hope you at least died knowing how much we cared for you, knowing how much you affected our lives. Nothing would have been the same without you, nothing. And every last second I got to spend with you, I am thankful for now.
I wish there was some way to tell you this now, but maybe you already knew. Because if you knew that your life was worth it, was not all in vain, then maybe I can allow myself to believe that you died at peace.
I miss you every day, but I try to be strong like you. After all, someone has to. I learned that from you, and whenever I make the choice not to cut myself or throw up – no matter how tempting it is – I always feel closer to you. It's the only way I stay sane. Other than my painting, of course. I always feel near you when I paint, my brush strokes sweeping along a canvas the way you'd always wanted to skate across the ice.
I hope that you're watching over us now, wherever you are. And I hope you like what you see. I'm trying, and that's all I can do. That's all anyone can ask for.