Finding Home
Chapter One Realization

On the side table, a CD player rings out the Beatles' song, quietly in the background.

"All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need."

And I hold her hand, as she breathes so slowly.

"Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
There's nothing you can do that can't be done."

I watch the monitor … beep ... beep … beep.

"Nothing you can sing that can't be sung."

We wait together. Everything is out of our hands.

"Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy."

This is not easy.

"There's nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved."

They tried. I wipe my eyes.

"Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you
in time - It's easy."

She doesn't have the time and I don't want to be without her.

A slight whisper, "Bella."

I stand closer, peering into her tired eyes.

"Ya, Gran?"

"My mouth is a little dry."

I let go of her hand and look in the night stand, grab a lemon-glycerin swab packet, open it and gently outline her dry lips, "Better?"

She swallows, lapping her moistened lips. "Much", she nods her head and clears her throat. "If there is one thing I have taught you." She takes a careful breath and I withhold mine. "Love with all of your heart and don't be afraid to show it."

Tears flow onto my cheeks, "I will, Gran."

She reaches out her hand and places it on my cheek, "And be a kid, for God's sake. Have some fun, my sweetie."

"Sure, Gran." I smile into her eyes. "I love you."

"I love you, too, Bella. Thank you for taking care of me, my precious girl."


"It's ok ... Find your home, sweet pea." She blinks and mumbles, "Look into the green".

Her hand drops into mine. Below a whisper, "I'll always be with you."

We stare at one another, until she takes a slow breath and her eyes drop shut.

The beeps stop. Just a dull... long... beep.

The taxi ride from Mount Sinai was a short one, as I stare out onto Central Park. The sun drops behind the trees, there are no shadows. The driver swerves out of traffic up to the front sidewalk of my building. I pay him through the grid and walk to the entrance. Our doorman, Ralph, scurries from behind the inside desk and opens the door for me. "Bella, how's..." I shake my head and whimper, as I walk into the building.

"I'm so sorry," he softly whispers and places an arm around my shoulders. I fall into him and sob. Ralph is a bear of a man and I get lost in his embrace. We stand like this for a few minutes and I break away. "Ralph, did you know she always liked you?"

"Ya," he says with a thick, raspy New York accent. "I liked ha, too. She was a real straight shootah."

"That, she was," I half-smile, wiping my tears.

"Hey, I get off in an hour, you wanna come home with me? Be with my family? Ruthy's makin' ziti and sausage." He urges, "C'mon, you don't wanna be alone."

"Thanks, Ralph. It's tempting, but I have to call my mom and tell her."

"Bella, you shouldn't be alone," he pleads.

I sadly shrug, "I'm used to it, Ralph."

"Well, if you change your mind..."

"I'll come down, before you leave. Ok?"

"Ya. ya." He shakes his head in disbelief.

Ralph stands by the front door, as I round the corner and make my way to the elevators. I walk pass the concierge desk and Marcus blows me a kiss and mouths "Are you ok?", as he holds the phone receiver to his ear on his shoulder. I catch it, throw him a kiss back and nod, sadly. As the door to the elevator opens, I get in.

The elevator ride to my floor is quiet. I am lost in my thoughts and think of Gran's last words, "Find your home". And where is that? Where do I find my home? It's so rare that I am comfortable anywhere. I can't be myself here. But could I find myself somewhere else?

The elevator doors open and I walk out to our condo. Ya, our. That's a laugh. Gran is gone. And Renee` and Phil are halfway around the world. I cry softly, as I fling open the wide double doors and enter the foyer. The silence is deafening. I could drop a pin and it would echo.

I close the doors, flip on a light and throw my purse on the center table. The bouquet of gardenias look brown around the edges and smell a bit sour. I walk through to the living room and stare out the ceiling to floor wall of glass. Its almost dark, but I can still see the outlines of the trees. Still green.

The phone rings and I jump, but I don't move. I don't feel like talking. The answer machine clicks on, after the third ring, "Bella, honey. Hey, just wanted to check in. We are having an amazing time in Beijing. The people are so friendly. I'm not that crazy about the food, but Phil found me a great Italian restaurant." She laughs "I'm probably the only person who wants Italian in China. Go figure. Wish you were with us, baby. Oh, oh, oh, we might have to stay an extra week, but I'll call you again, to let you know." My feet don't move. I just can't move. "Love you." Dial tone.

I'm numb. She is having fun. Wow. And I am here, alone to plan my grandmother's funeral. Her mother. I'm seventeen fucking years old. Well, almost seventeen. Who does that? Who leaves their child to take care of an ailing mother, traipses across the world and never asks how we are doing? Unbelievable. I don't know whether to scream or cry.

The phone rings again and I stare at it. The machine clicks on, "This is Jason Jenks, your grandmother's attorney. Bella, are you there?" I grab the receiver, "Mr. Jenks."

"Bella? How are you?" He questions.

I sigh, "It has been a very long day, Mr. Jenks."

"Yes, I know. I heard from the hospital, a few minutes ago, Bella. I'm so sorry." He pauses, "Ahhh, your grandmother called me a few days ago." He sounds tired.


"Bella, you know how she adored you. She had me arrange her memorial." He coughs, "She didn't want you to be burdened by all of this, knowing that Renee` was away."

"But she was so weak," I cry.

"She called and I ran to her. We don't have to talk about the details now. I will come by tomorrow morning and we can discuss the ceremony and your inheritance."

"Mr. Jenks, I don't know what to do." I sob.

"Bella, do you have anyone that can stay with you?"

"No," I answer quietly. "I pretty much spent all my time with Gran."

"If you like, I could come over. I can stay on the sofa," He offers.

"That's very kind of you, but I'm fine," I clear my throat.

"Ok, try to get a good night's rest and I will see you in the morning."

"Thanks, Mr. Jenks."

"It will all be fine, Bella. You go rest." He hangs up.

I'm hungry, but I can't eat. My heart pounds and my chest aches, everything aches. I walk around the living room in a daze, dragging my fingers across the sofas and chairs. I sadly look around and giggle to myself. We have to be thankful that this place is easy on the eyes. Warm browns, beige, ivory and a little touch of Wedgwood blue that colors the condo. If Renee wants to redecorate, we could be living in chaotic, blinding fuchsias and chartreuse, very Arabian or Moroccan with mirror-sparkles, puffy pillows, and shear curtains that drape throughout the place. My laughter dies down and I fix my eyes on the bar. If I take a little sip of something, I can cut the edginess. Phil keeps a very well-stocked bar and he drinks tequila all the time. I grab a full bottle of Patron Silver and pour about half a shot. I smell it. Ok, not bad. I stick my tongue into the shot glass for a lick. It's rather smooth, not overly strong. Grabbing my Blackberry out of my purse, I Google how to drink tequila. Well, I want to do this right. It's not that I want to be drunk. I want to feel better. Sitting at the kitchen table, I follow the instructions by licking my hand and pouring salt on to it, while holding onto a lemon wedge. I breathe out and down the tequila shot, swallowing all of it in one gulp, lick the salt and bite the lemon. I hiss and feel a slight burn down my throat. "Sorry, Gran, but don't be mad at me. It's just enough to dull my senses and calm me down. I promise I won't get drunk." I rinse the shot glass out in the sink, grab the bag of Chips Ahoys on the counter and head for bed.

The following morning, I awake to the phone. Cotton mouth with little sleep, I whisper a groggy "hello" to find Marcus' sympathetic voice, "Ms. Bella, a Mr. Jenks is here to see you."

I sit up quickly, "Oh ya, please, send him up, Marcus. Thank you."

I run to the bathroom, wash my face, brush my teeth and put my hair up into a high ponytail, go to the bathroom and dress in jeans and a T-shirt. By the time, I walk out of my closet, the doorbell rings.

Mr. Jenks is a small man, a little taller than me and I'm 5'3". He smiles, as I open the door.

"Good morning, Mr. Jenks."

"Yes, good morning, Bella. And, please, call me Jason. We don't need all the formality."

I stand to the side to allow him passage. We walk into the living room.
I smile, "Sure, Jason. Please, sit down."

We both sit on the larger sofa. He places his briefcase on the coffee table and opens it immediately. "Before we go over her will, I want you to know that I have made all the arrangements for Lizzy's memorial, the day after tomorrow. We will be the only ones attending, since your mother refuses to end her trip."

"You spoke with her?" I question.

"Yes, got her, after I talked with you last night." He shakes his head in disgust, "She told me to do what was needed and she would be back in a few weeks."

I look at him in utter shock and embarrassment. How could she be so cold? So... selfish.

"I'm sorry, Jason." I whisper.

"Bella, I wasn't surprised." He pats my hand quickly and smiles. "Lizzy wanted to be cremated. She didn't want a fuss." That's Gran.

He clears his throat and holds a folder, "Despite the fact you are a minor, you will receive all holdings, now. Bella, your grandmother left you everything."

In shock, I stare, "What? What about my mom?"

Jason smirks, "According to Lizzy, she wasn't worth a damn." He places papers in front of me. It's a list of all her worldly goods. "You get her worth and sentimental valuables, Bella."

I look at the list, "Oh, she gave me her guitar." I start to cry. "She taught me how to play on her guitar."

"I'm going to leave you with these, so you can decide," he states firmly.

"Decide?" I question.

"Oh, Lizzy left one stipulation. If you choose to do as she asks, then, you get everything, now. If not, you will have to wait until you turn twenty-one."

Jason gets up and walks towards the door. I follow.

"What am I to decide, Jason?" I frown.

"There's a letter explaining everything, Bella. Read it and get back to me." He exits.

I quickly run to the pile of papers on the coffee table, grab the large envelope with my name on it, rip it open and start to read, "Oh my God!"