Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, and I don't know who does own them, although the movie was produced by Kaboom. I write them for fun only, as an exercise in creative writing. This is a work of fiction, based upon the movie characters. I just love Robert and Catherine.
A/N: I know many people don't read OSN stories but for the few who do I hope you enjoy. I enjoyed writing it
Catherine's heavy heart
After a restless night, Catherine woke with a heavy heart that Monday knowing that she was scheduled for work. She should have known better than to think Robert would have met her at Murray's; his invitation had been given in good faith but after all he was a married man and his wife was dying.
Chaplain Steve noticed her. "You seem down today Catherine; something wrong?"
"No Steve, this time of year brings back memories."
"I'm sorry Catherine, I should have remembered. When you finish rounds, have a cup of coffee with me?"
"Sure, why not, see you in thirty minutes."
They arrived at the coffee cart at the same time. They sat. Steve asked, "Did you have a nice Thanksgiving?"
"Interesting is a better word." Then she went on to explain her adventure in the empty cabin she and her rider had found during the blizzard. "Robert is so much like me; I'm still grieving loosing Tom and he's been grieving for almost two years." His wife died at the moment she no longer knew him. All that has been left was the woman's body. Alzheimer's is so cruel."
"Yes, just like the woman who came in from Shelby Manor yesterday; died before the family could get here."
Catherine had a pained look in her eyes when she asked, "What was her name?"
"Marybeth," thinking, Woodward."
"No Steve, tell me it wasn't her."
"Catherine, did you know her?"
"That was my rider's wife."
Catherine sat there. Her mind and heart were in a battle; her heart wanted to reach out to Robert right this minutes; her mind made her pause. "What will his girls think?"
Steve's pager went off. "Need to go Catherine; it's the ER. Let me know if I can do anything for you."
Catherine wanted to read the death notice for herself. Arlington had an afternoon edition of the paper; she found it in the holder on her porch. Taking off the wrapper, she threw her coat on the back of Tom's old chair and sat. Quickly she found the page of death notices; there it was.
Died November 30, 1999
Arrangements by Arlington Funeral Home
Tears came to her eyes; soon they trickled down her cheeks. "How can I feel so bad for someone I barely know?" Her heart ached. "Because you love him; yes, Catherine you love the sad strong construction manager with deep brown eyes that captivated you."
She cried for Robert; for his daughters and for Michael, the grandson who had kept his grandfather grounded.
She remembered so well seeing Tom's casket lowered in the ground. "Oh Tom, I know I love someone else." Some how she heard, "he needs you Catherine. It's alright. You need each other; go to him, offer him your heartfelt condolences."
Tuesday's morning paper had all the details.
Funeral Mass at St. Mary's Church, 11 AM
Final resting place, St. Mary's Cemetery
The family will receive visitors at the Woodward home.
"William, may I ask a favor."
"I need tomorrow morning off."
"Of course, anything you need me to do?"
"No, please give my apologies to the Critical Care Committee. I'll be back in time for the two o'clock Cardiology meeting."
Catherine was planning on arriving at the church just minutes before the service would begin. She knew there would be a basket for cards. On her way home she stopped at the card shop; she found three cards, one for Robert, one for his daughters and one especially for Michael.
Once at home, she sat at her desk and composed a special note for each of them. Michael's was first; she printed carefully.
I'm a friend of your grandpa. I know you will miss you grandma. She loved you very much. Always remember, she will always be in your heart.
Your friend, Dr. Cat
Next, for his daughters, she wrote.
You only know me as the doctor who gave your dad a ride and got stuck in a cabin together the night of the blizzard. Your father's love for your mom was deep and lasting.
We talked that night. It made me remember my husband's death there in Shelby Manor, a year ago. I was devastated. Tom was my strength. As I told your dad, "he was awfully good to me."
Our sadness entwined, we were able to offer support to each other. Your dad told me that maybe I might save a child who might find a cure for cancer, that touched my heart.
I tried to help him cherish the time he had left with your mom; having no idea it would be so little; I told him she could hear and sense his presence. I believe we helped each other.
My sincere sympathy,
The one for Robert took the longest; she cried the whole time she wrote it.
Catherine timed it perfectly; she arrived at the church as they were about to close the door. The church was full; she found a lone seat in the very back. It was a very touching service. Each of his daughters spoke and to her surprise so did Robert.
He gave a warm and heartfelt eulogy. He thanked many – especially the staff of Shelby Manor who were sitting near the family. And then, "people come into your life when you least expect it. I met that person recently. Our conversation has given me the strength to stand here today. I hope she's listening."
"Oh no," he spotted me. "Now what do I do?" When the congregation began to take Communion, Catherine made it outside, hopefully un-noticed. She walked rapidly the two blocks back to the hospital – grabbing a cup of coffee – she went to her office. She needed to compose herself.
As it is with most funerals, only a few people attend the graveside service. Friends of the family were at their home setting up for the reception. A few guests had arrived before the family did. The funeral director had brought the basket of cards; placed it inside the front door to receive cards from people who were not at the church.
Most people came to speak to Robert and the girls; had something to drink and a small snack and then quickly left. This wasn't a party where you lingered. Jaclyn and Michael were talking together; others were talking with Lori. Robert started to look through the cards; he noticed three cards together that were most definitely written by the same person. One for Lori and Jaclyn, another for Michael and the one addressed to him. His curiosity was peaked; he opened it and read.
I was there. I feel so guilty now that I know. My heart tells me you were there as well; but then the call came. I know you never had a chance to say good bye. You can tell her any time, she will know.
I can't get you out of my mind, Robert. When you are ready, please call.
You're a strong man Robert; you endured your grief for a long time. The hurt that Marybeth didn't know you anymore cut straight through your heart and yet you were faithful.
I'll be there for you Robert, please take me at my word.
May your heart and soul find peace and comfort,
Robert was restless after the last guest left; he needed to get some fresh air. "Lori, I'm going for a drive, be back later." He did get in his car and drive away but stopped a short distance from the house and placed a call.
"Hello, Dr. Howard," he heard.
"Hello, Catherine," she recognized the voice immediately.
"How are you Robert?"
"I'm fine Catherine, meet me….´before he could finish she did, "at Murray's"
"Give me thirty minutes."
"Okay," that was perfect for Robert's plans. He waited in the car; he saw her park on the side street. He went to meet her; "take a ride with me?"
"Trust me Catherine. You were there."
Yes, Robert, I had to; it was the least I could do."
"I read your card. Thank you." They continued to talk. Robert turned off the main road, expecting Catherine to notice but she didn't. She only spoke when she saw it.
"Robert, we're at the cabin. You're not going to break in again?"
"No Catherine," he dangled the key in front of her.
"How come you have the key?"
"I bought the place."
"I stopped by on Saturday, the neighbor was here. I told him about our dilemma during the blizzard. I paid him for the window before he told me the cabin was for sale. Let me grab our food."
The furnace was working but Robert still started a fire. "What did you bring us?"
Catherine and Robert sat and enjoyed a batch of the famous chocolate chip pancakes.
"Catherine, I know we both felt something that night. I really do want to know all about you."
"Robert, I know I walled myself off from people; I couldn't think about being in a relationship; until I met you.
"What do you say Catherine, shall we begin?" His eyes twinkled. "Hi, I'm Robert Woodward."
"I'm Catherine Howard." Laughter filled the cabin.
"We need to be careful; people will think it is too soon."
"Yes, but now we have this place." Over the next several days they got to know one another through phone calls and meetings at the cabin.
Lori and Jaclyn were very touched by Catherine's note and also by her dad's eulogy. Lori had also noticed something when they rescued them; she wasn't sure what. He looked content. Lori's thoughts were only positive for her dad. Maybe he had found a caring companion or maybe something more. Jaclyn was not quite as positive but she too only wanted him to be happy; he had suffered a long time.