I do not own Ghost Whisperer or any of the characters.

Melinda meets with a spirit of a young woman named Lisa. The ghost teaches Melinda an important lesson about the importance of not taking your family for granted.

What Could Have Been

Jim fought with himself as he paced in the living room of their home. He understood Melinda's need to help the spirits, (well as best he could) or maybe he was just more used to it. He told himself that over and over in order to push down the fear and anger that was running through his veins. After all, he had consistently had high stress dangerous jobs and had actually died for goodness sake. But that was all the more reason to hold tight and not let go. He wanted to get in the car and find her, but their son was sleeping quietly upstairs. He thought about calling Delia or Eli for help, but knowing Melinda, Eli was probably with her and he wanted to be home in case Aiden woke up. He had been having strange nightmares about "the shinnies" and Jim couldn't bear to leave him either for a moment. Jim couldn't understand his own hurt feelings. Melinda confided in him about her ghosts regularly but he was never really on the case with her unless he had to save her from herself. The last few days she had woken up almost every night in a nightmare. Jim had held her for a while after each dream but the last few days she had gone to her computer immediately to either research or email Eli and she was late yet again tonight. Jim tried to tell himself that Eli and Rick before him weren't in love with her, but that would be a lie. He knew how lucky he was to have her, but he still felt jealous when he caught the admiration in Eli or Rick's eyes. She was such a lovely woman, kind, caring, loving, compassionate, and a wonderful mother, but… ugh! The anger and hurt crept up again. Aiden went to sleep over an hour ago. She should have been home or at least been answering his texts and calls. "If she's hurt, what will I do?" They had agreed that if she was going to go out on her wild ghost chases she would at least keep him posted on her whereabouts. Jim paced back and forth. He decided to break down and text Eli. No answer. Of course. Jim didn't want to be angry. He and Melinda strove to have a relationship that was equal as possible. She was a strong woman who could take care of herself…. Most of the time. But then again she was always getting herself into dangerous situations. Jim sighed and rushed upstairs to check on his sleeping son for the hundredth time.

Melinda glanced down at her phone vibrating in her hand and sighed as she parked her car outside the house. Jim would have to wait. She knew she had missed dinner and tucking in Aiden and that tugged at her heart, but she wanted this ghost to stop pestering her. Jim knew she had to work it out, especially after all this time. She had promised to answer him when she was out on her "Scooby Doo hunts", as Jim sometimes affectionately (she hoped) called it, but she needed to get in and out and meet Eli back at his office. Melinda sighed and texted Eli a quick question asking if he had heard anything from their ghost. Eli texted back, "please don't go in there. You could get hurt and I'll be stuck with all these ghosts. And no I haven't heard. I guess that means you haven't?" "Not since I was locking up. The last vision showed me the house again. I have to go in. See U l8ter." She texted back and sighed. "At least tell Jim where you are." Eli texted. Melinda put her phone in her pocket and thought, "Why worry him?" She was grateful to Delia for giving her the keys to the abandoned, partially renovated house. She wondered to herself if it was a coincidence that Delia was the Real Estate agent for the property or a sign. Melinda knew it wasn't safe to go into homes like this but just assumed she'd be okay. Wasn't she always? Well most of the time.

Melinda stepped onto the porch of the old house and tripped on a loose board. "Hmm. Not a great start" she thought to herself, as she turned the key and stepped into the home. "Lisa?" Melinda called out as she climbed the stairs of the empty old house. She entered a large room upstairs and finally saw the ghost. The young woman in front of her seemed tired and sad. "What can I do for you? How can I help you?" Melinda asked the ghost. Lisa swirled in front of Melinda and settled on the window seat. "How did you find me?" the ghost asked. "Well, you sent me the dreams of you falling down the stairs in this house and some friends helped me find it.", Melinda explained. "I messed up.", the ghost answered her. She looked the same age as Melinda. Perhaps from the 70s or early 80s based on her dress. Then again the same could be said of Melinda's vintage dress. "How?" Melinda asked as she joined the ghost on the window seat, suddenly feeling tired herself. "I could have spent more time with them. My family needed me. Didn't you wonder why there was no furniture in this house in your dreams?" Lisa, the ghost, asked quietly. "Not really, I was just trying to figure out where the house was." Melinda admitted. I was here trying to fix up the house. I knew it was dangerous and needed a contractor but I wanted to do it myself. The house had been my grandmothers" the ghost explained. "My husband actually knew quite a bit about fixing up homes but I just hadn't felt connected in a while. I thought he'd always be there if I needed him to fix it. It wasn't fair to him or my son." Melinda shifted a little on the seat as the ghost remembered. "I fell down the stairs after ignoring a call from my husband. He was supportive and just wanted to see if I needed help but I got annoyed at him and tripped as I put my phone away. As simple as that." Melinda gulped at the story and slowly asked "Is that what you need? Do you want me to talk to him and your son?". "No, they already passed." Lisa sighed. "I don't understand", Melinda answered Lisa. My husband, Ryan, and my son, Ethan, passed away in a car accident not long after I died. They've already crossed over. I'm just too afraid to go. What if he is angry with me? What if he feels I abandoned them? I feel so guilty." Lisa explained.

Melinda suddenly realized what could be. Jim's death and the joy of their reunion came back to her. She realized what she'd done. "Would you mind if I make a quick call?" Melinda asked the ghost and put her phone on speaker as she called Jim. "MelindawhereareyouI'vebeensoworried?!" Jim said in one hurried mouthful. Melinda's guilt crept up. "Jim, I'm at 135 Oak Lane. I'm okay. I have a ghost here that I think could benefit from hearing this." "Okay, but Melinda I'm sitting here with Aiden". Jim answered, puzzled. "Put your phone on speaker too. Hi baby. I'm sorry I'm not there right now but I'll be home soon." "It's ok, Mommy" Aiden answered. "I had a nightmare. The shinnies said you were in trouble but you're okay?" "Yes, baby. Jim, Aiden, I'm going to find a way to be more careful from now on. I promise. I'm going to have to continue helping the ghosts but I'm going to do it in the safest way possible from now on. I'll make sure you know where I am and what I am working on and I will answer my phone and call you and spend as much time with you both as I can…" Melinda trailed off as some tears fell down her cheeks. Melinda looked over at Lisa. "Mommy, we love you. Just come home okay?" Aiden answered. "Mel, we're coming to get you. We'll meet you out front in ten minutes. I love you. We can talk about this more when we get home. I'll drive back with Eli in the morning and we'll bring your car back". Jim chimed in. "Okay. Love you too. Bye." Melinda sniffed and wiped away some tears. Lisa looked at her and smiled. "I feel better." She looked off to the side, "is that light for me?" "Yes. Do you see your family?" Melinda whispered. Lisa's hand flew to her mouth in happy surprise. "They're there! They want me to come home to them. Thank you Melinda. Make sure you love that family of yours always." Lisa cried. "Thank you, I will." Melinda tearfully answered as Lisa crossed the room and disappeared.

Melinda left the room and went down the stairs. Just as she tripped on the bottom stair and turned her ankle, Jim entered the front door. "Mel!" he ran over and scooped her up in his arms. "Are you hurt? ".Just my pride, oh and my shoe!" She looked over Jim's shoulder at the floor. "Hi, baby." She beamed at Aiden, wincing as she realized her ankle was a bit sore. "Hi, Mommy can we go home now?" Aiden asked with a yawn as he picked up her broken high heel. "Yes, baby. Let's go home". Melinda smiled at Jim as he carried her out of the house and to the car.