As you go through life and rack up years, you also gain something far more valuable and worthy to measure your life by: memories.
These moments can be remembered by looking at an old picture, watching home videos, seeing a lost friend or simply staring off and remembering a time from long ago. They can be found all over.
Sometimes, memories are more painful than others. Sometimes one remembers the bad times, but with the bad times they realize that those times are what shaped them into the person they are today.
But all memories, good or bad, are valuable. We find joy in these times, we learn from them, we remember sorrow and we never forget them.
Because sometimes, memories are all you have left.
"When did my garage become such a mess?" Edward complained with a groan.
Bella had to agree with the assessment, but was not sure she knew the answer.
The two of them stood on the threshold of the door that connected the house to the garage and stared at the space with a sense of dread. Molly, who was tucked in Edward's arms, seemed indifferent to the whole thing.
"I can honestly say that I'm not at fault for this one," she replied, not taking her eyes off of the loads of crap that was all over the space.
"How do I even own this much shit?" he wondered.
"Well," she sighed, stepping down the step, "Let's get started so we can make it to your parents for dinner tonight."
"But," Edward protested, "That's not until 6 tonight. It's not even 11 in the morning yet."
Bella gestured to all of the stuff. "My point exactly.
Edward opened his mouth to argue but then realized that she was completely right.
So, Edward settled Molly into her jumper, which they had moved outside into the space, and Bella turned on the radio. This whole cleaning the garage thing was brought on by a question the previous night from Edward. "So why don't you park in the garage anyways?"
"Because you park in it," she replied with a shrug.
"But it's a two stall garage," he responded.
"Have you looked in it lately?" she had asked, "You can barely fit one car in it."
And he had realized that she was right. So he had decided that he would spend his Saturday cleaning the garage and she had agreed to help, because she honestly didn't have anything better to do.
"Where do we even start?" he asked while Molly started bouncing happily.
Bella looked around with her hands on her hips. She pointed over to the wall of shelving against the empty stall of the garage. "I'll start clearing everything off of that and we'll see if we can do some reorganizing." She then nodded to a stack of boxes and various other junk which was against the wall perpendicular to it. "You start going through that and then we'll reevaluate where we're at."
So Bella went to work lifting everything off of the shelves while Edward started opening boxes to see what was in them. He was astounded at how much crap he had, and Bella was just downright annoyed with the Cullen's hoarding.
"What is this?" she asked, pulling a dusty trophy out from the back of the shelves.
Edward looked up from the box of Molly's old clothes to examine the item. "Hey! That's Emmett's trophy he got in hockey his senior year for winning state!" he exclaimed.
Bella raised an unimpressed eyebrow. "And why the hell do you have it?"
"You know, I'm not really sure."
Bella set it down in one of the various piles she was making. "Well he's getting it back tonight."
They each went back to work and Edward could have sworn he heard Bella mutter, "…of course Emmett played hockey. That explains all the brain issues…"
He had played basketball instead.
He had always come to the same conclusion about the correlation between the ice sport and Emmett's more annoying qualities.
About an hour into their cleaning, Molly got rather restless. She started whining until Bella ran into the house and grabbed her some dry Cheerios which left her content once again.
Edward noticed eventually that Bella would stare at Molly with an odd expression on her face before putting a particular item in a box. He finally grew curious when he saw her examine a pair of figure skates for a few minutes.
"What's up?" he asked, nodding to the women's skates.
Bella shook out of her trance and blinked at him. "Hmm?" she hummed as she set the skates in that particular box.
He gestured to the box. "What's in that box?"
Bella looked over at Molly again before glancing back at him. "It's just stuff that I think Taylor would have wanted Molly to have. You know, her skates, some of her old childhood books…just stuff that shouldn't be gotten rid of."
Edward let out a quiet sigh as he looked over at his daughter who was looking out to the yard as she snacked. It never failed to crush him that Molly would have no memories of her mom when she got older.
"That's a good idea," he finally replied.
"If you find stuff, you're more than welcome to add to it," she saw a look on his face and added, "I mean, not that we're going to be getting rid of her stuff. This box is just going to be kept specifically for when Molly gets older."
"Okay," he said with a nod. He turned back to a box he had been searching through, not wanting to speak more on the subject.
Eventually, Molly started to fuss again, obviously getting bored with her jumper.
"Alright, who is making lunch?" Bella asked, setting down the gardening pots she had been cleaning off in order to put away.
"Rock, paper, scissors?" he asked.
"Let's go," she agreed.
"2/3?" he asked as they moved to stand across from each other.
Bella went with rock while Edward opted to form scissors with his fingers. The second round, Bella did the idiotic thing of choosing paper while Edward once again did scissors.
"This is suspenseful," Edward commented.
"High stakes," she agreed.
"Rock, paper, scissors shoot!"
Bella went back to the good old rock while Edward once again threw out scissors. She pounded her fist against his fingers triumphantly.
"Pasta sounds good," she teased.
Edward rolled his eyes.
"Who the hell uses scissors each time?" she added in confusion.
"It was a strategy that I live by!" he defended as he scooped Molly up, "It's never led me astray!"
"Like I said," she grinned, "Pasta."
Edward just shook his head. "You'll get a sandwich and like it."
Bella grinned as she watched Molly wave back at her as Edward and she went through the door to the house. She waved back, letting her hand drop when the door closed again.
She huffed a sigh when she realized that they weren't even halfway done. It was already looking a whole lot better though. The shelves had been rearranged and they had managed to get twice as much stuff on it than they had before. She had also started pounding nails into the wall to optimize the space and be able to hang up more stuff.
Bella looked over the pots she had been cleaning and wrinkled her nose in disgust. So instead, she looked around the garage for something else to occupy her attentions. She decided to started moving some of the suitcases they stored out here and try and compact them. She went over to the corner and started pulling them out, wondering why they hell Taylor and Edward had needed so many of them.
She froze when she found a Prince tennis bag behind them. She recognized that bag and in an instant she remembered everywhere she had ever been with it. Taylor had had the same bag since freshman year of high school.
Bella sank onto the cool concrete and pulled the bag closer to her, brushing off some of the dirt and cob webs.
She unzipped it with her breath held. She wasn't sure what she was expecting to find. Then she realized she wasn't expecting to find anything unique, but was rather preparing herself for the assault of memories that she knew was coming.
There were two tennis rackets in the bag, a newer one and one Taylor had saved from their final match together at the state tournament nearly eight years ago. Bella picked up the racket and held it carefully, running her fingers over the strings.
It was truly a wonder how fast time flies by.
Bella gripped the racket gently, holding it while the imagine of Taylor twirling it around in between points struck her. Tennis had meant so much to them. It had been everything in high school. Being Taylor's partner had been incredible and the opportunities that had arisen from it had been life changing.
Setting the racket down on her lap, Bella continued to look through the bag. She found her tennis shoes, some racket grips, a few canisters of balls, nothing she wouldn't expect or couldn't find in her own bag.
The tags they had gotten from their several trips to state were still attached to the bag, making Bella smile. They had been so freaking excited each and every time they had added another one.
When Bella found deodorant, she rolled her eyes. While the girl had been her best friend, Taylor had sweat a lot. Bella used to tease her endlessly about her perspiration and her need for clinical strength protection.
A piece of paper tangled in her fingers and she picked it out of the bag in confusion. She unfolded it and read it with a furrowed brow.
When Bella saw the date on the top of it, she couldn't help but laugh. It was a high school tennis schedule from three years ago. Taylor was a hoarder…that and she was really forgetful when it cleaning things.
Bella had gotten a schedule too, but had thrown it away when the allotted time on the paper had passed. Like a normal person. Every year before they started college they had gone back to help Kessler with the tennis program for a few weeks, and the schedule in front of her was from their senior year of college. Even though Taylor had just become recently engaged and was trying to plan a wedding in less than a year, she still had gone.
Seeing the paper…something just clicked in Bella's mind. She was a believer of signs, and the schedule in front of her was a sign.
Bella pulled her phone out of her pocket and searched through her contacts before dialing the number she had been looking for.
"I'll do it."
"You always were to the point, kid," Kessler commented.
"Why waste time?" she shrugged. "I know you probably already have practices scheduled and I'm probably at work, but I'll do whatever I can to help with tennis this year."
"What changed your mind?" he asked.
"I found Taylor's bag. It meant so much to us, the program." Bella cringed a little as she continued, "And even though I'm not entirely sure I can go on a tennis court without sobbing for an hour like last time…I'm willing to find out."
Before he could speak, she added with a teasing note. "That, and I'm sure the girls would enjoy a relatively normal person coaching them."
"Thank you for adding relatively in there."
She grinned. "Well let's not get too crazy here."
More serious, Kessler commented. "I knew you would, kid."
"Well, I was confident enough in the fact that I scheduled the practices from 4-8 in the afternoon, so that you'd be able to get to them."
"I can be there at 4:30."
"I was counting on it," he replied, and she could hear the grin in his voice.
"They start this Monday?" she checked.
"Yup. The players have doing captains practice this past week and start Monday, its rise and grind. The girls are going to be so excited to see you."
"I'm actually looking forward to it a lot," she said, surprised by the realization. She was scared, but excited.
"I told you, you take a weakness and you use it to make you stronger. That's what you're doing by coming on Monday. I'm proud of you, kid."
When Bella left the office on Monday afternoon, she had already changed into an athletic tank top and running shorts. She looked slightly odd and for once she understood why the interns were giving her funny looks. She stopped at Landon's cubicle and grinned as he looked at her with a raised eyebrow.
"Where are you off to?" he asked.
"I'm going to go and coach tennis," she told him, unable to stop the spread of her grin.
Landon smiled and nodded. "Good for you."
The drive out of the cities took shorter than normal as she was beating rush hour by leaving the office at 4. She had her tennis bag in the passenger seat of her truck and as she drove she couldn't help but feel anxious.
When Bella pulled into the parking lot of the tennis facilities, she turned the engine of the truck off and paused. There were probably around two dozen girls hitting on the courts, and she spotted Kessler writing on a portable white board by the fence. She couldn't help but remember the last time she had come and hit with him and how that ended. She tried to remind herself that she had felt better after the hour spent crying on her coach, but it was hard to convince.
She reached over to her bag in the passenger seat and rested her hand on it. She glanced up towards the sky and mumbled, "Taylor, I hope you're with me on this one. Otherwise I am screwed."
Bella took a deep breath and when she let it out, there was an unexplained presence of peace that she had not felt only seconds earlier. She recognized the feeling and smiled to herself.
She hopped out of the truck, slinging her bag that held Taylor's racket in it, over her shoulder and headed towards the fence opening. She wasn't planning on using Taylor's racket and would probably give it to Molly later in her life, but she had wanted to have it with her.
"Bella!" a girl called excitedly. Bella looked through the fence and smile as a dozen teenage girls turned and started waving, calling her name. "Bella's here!"
"How's it going Brianna?" Bella asked as the one of the older girls walked with her on the other side of the fence.
"It's good! We're so happy that you're here!" she exclaimed as Bella entered the courts.
She grinned over at Kessler as she responded, "Well I don't blame you! I mean, otherwise you're kinda just stuck with him."
Brianna laughed, reminding Bella how utterly perky teenagers are. Her hitting partner called back to her, waving to Bella as Brianna turned to go back.
"She make captain?" Bella asked the coach who was mock glaring at her.
"Yup. The season is going to be incredibly peppy I fear."
Bella grinned. She remembered Brianna from when she had helped out during college and Brianna's older sister had been on Bella's team.
"Alright, so what am I going to be doing?"
Kessler pointed over to the 4th and farthest court away from them. There were two younger girls, a blonde and a brunette hitting across from one another. And they were hitting very well Bella could see. "See those girls over there?" he asked.
Bella nodded, watching their skilled hitting intently.
"Remind you of anyone?" he asked with a small grin.
It was like watching Bella and Taylor from over a decade ago. They had been hitting like that their 7th grade year and had made varsity as a result. Hell, the girls even had the same hair color as the two of them did.
"They're the doubles team I mentioned last time. They're young but they are great players. They've kinda been thrust together this past summer, being of the same skill level and age. I need you to figure out what's holding them back."
Bella looked at him with a raised eyebrow. He further explained, "Hell, they should be beating over half the girls here, and I can't figure out why they're not. But then again, I was a singles player for my tennis career, so I thought that you'd be able to help as you're kinda Miss Doubles."
She rolled her eyes but nodded. "Yeah sure, no problem. Are you going to have them play matches?"
Kessler nodded. "I was just waiting for you to get here."
"Well let's go!"
"Alright ladies!" Kessler hollered, "Pick up the balls and bring it in!"
As the girls rushed to grab the discarded tennis balls and put them back into baskets, Kessler smirked over at her. "Get ready for a lot of squealing," he warned.
Bella raised an eyebrow at him, but her question was answered within seconds.
She was attacked by three simultaneous hugs. She laughed as the girls around her backed up slightly and started chattering excitedly and, as Kessler predicted, squealing at how excited they were to see her.
Bella was somewhat flustered by the amount of people talking to her, but took it all in with a smile. Kessler saved her after a minute. "Let her breathe, girls. Have a seat!"
Two dozen excited girls sat down on the court, forming a semicircle around Kessler and Bella who were standing. Bella was smiling and waving at the girls she recognized, which was most of them, while Kessler cleared his throat.
"We're going to be playing some matches this afternoon. We'll go until 6 o'clock and then, if you're good, I might let you eat." Bella rolled her eyes. "After that, we'll do some hitting drills because some of your backhands are truly terrifying."
The coach rolled his eyes when he saw that he hardly had any of the girl's attention. "And as most of you know, we have Bella Swan joining us this summer. Sh-" he was interrupted by hearty cheers as she girls clapped, whooped and squealed. Bella grinned. "For those of you who don't know Bella, she played for the team for six years, four of which she helped lead the team to the state tournament. Her and her partner were the doubles champions at the tourney their senior year, and Bella went on to play four years at the U."
Bella eyed the few girls she didn't know, including the two 7th graders she would be working with. They had wide, impressed eyes.
"Other than that, she's a lot less funnier than I am but I expect you all to listen to her. After 6, I'll have some of you girls start hitting with her. She might be a little rusty, so take it easy!" He clapped his hands together, offering her a quick smirk before he pointed in two directions. "Our little 7th graders, Rebecca and Courtney, will be taking on the fab freshman on the first court and you will have Bella with you to start."
Kessler went on to assign the rest of the girls courts and matches while the four that Bella were with got situated on their court. Bella leaned against the net post as they got ready.
Bella paid close attention as the girls started playing. The freshman team was good, but not anything amazing. Their forehands hardly held a candle to the younger girls, but they were enough to some spin and be placed nicely over the net.
The girls went to duce fairly quickly, before the freshmen won the game. The switched sides of the net, and Bella realized she knew what their problem was after only five minutes. She watched the next game even more closely to make sure she was right. When the freshman won that game as well, Bella knew she had figured it out.
By the third game, Kessler made his way over to where she was now leaning against the fence and watching them.
"What's the score?" he asked so they wouldn't hear as they continued to volley back and forth.
"0-2. Courtney and Rebecca are down," she told him, not taking her eyes of the ball.
"Figures. But you know what I mean? Their skills and technique is much better than the freshman team, and I can't understand why they don't just crush them."
"I figured it out."
Kessler looked over at her, eyebrows raised to his hair line. "Seriously?"
She nodded. "They don't trust each other."
Surprised into silence, Kessler turned back to watch as Courtney, the blonde one, got ready to serve the ball across the net.
"Watch this," Bella said, "Rebecca will get to the ball and volley it, but Courtney will move up behind her, in the ball's line just in case and the team will return to it where Courtney should have been."
Bella was not surprised, but rather confident, when that exact thing happened.
"So, it's Courtney then? She needs to play the court better."
She shook her head. "No, not just her. The freshman have figured out that Rebecca is awesome at the net and are intentionally lobbing over her….like right now." They watched as the ball went high in the hair and Rebecca leapt up, trying to reach it and then ended up slamming the ball down into the net.
"Rebecca doesn't trust that Courtney could have easily gotten that. They communicate well, but just don't fully trust the other. They're playing selfish doubles and it's not working out for them."
Kessler surprised Bella then by slinging his arm around her shoulders and giving her a half hug. "It's good to have you back, kid."
Bella grinned. "It feels good to be back here, with these girls. It just reminds me of some amazing times."
He gave her shoulder a squeeze. "Good for you."
Yeah, Bella agreed silently, Good for me.
It took the girls about an hour to finish their matches. Courtney and Rebecca lost their sets 2-6 and 3-6 before it was finally time for snack time. The freshman walked off the court, chattering happily amongst themselves well the younger girls moved more slowly as they gathered up their water bottles.
"That was great playing, girls," Bella told them with a smile.
The blonde one, Courtney, smiled shyly. "Thanks."
"Do you two like doubles?" she asked as they walked to the bags.
They nodded. Rebecca said, "Singles is hard. It gets kind of lonely."
Bella nodded in agreement. "I always thought so too. I loved doubles because of how great it was to share the sport with someone."
The girls sat down at their bags, leaning against the dividing fence. Courtney looked up at her curiously as she swallowed her water. "Who were your doubles partners?"
"I only had one," Bella said with a small smile. "Her name was Taylor Daniels, or Cullen I suppose you might recognize her as, since she got married a few years ago."
The girls grew quiet as they recognized the name. "Oh," they said softly.
Bella was about to say something, probably make the awkward situation more uncomfortable, Kessler called, "Swan! I got food for you!"
She gave the girls a little wave before jogging over to where Kessler was. The tennis coach grabbed a grocery bag which was filled with various foods and he led her out of the fencing to sit at one of the picnic tables.
"I really appreciate the fact that you never forget to feed me," she commented as they each grabbed at the junk food he had clearly picked up right before practice.
Kessler smirked. "Consider it bribery to get you to come back."
"Don't worry, I'll be here," she assured him as she opened a thing of crackers.
"You know," she continued, "It's actually freaky how much the two of them are like me and Taylor were."
Kessler nodded. "I've called Rebecca, Bella a few times and called Courtney, Taylor the other day."
"Is it weird that I keep comparing Rebecca to myself, based completely on her age and hair color?"
"You know, I've figured out over the years that we often see ourselves in the ones we coach. I mean, when I was your coach, I would watch you play and listen to your snarky comments and just see myself. It's one of the reasons you were my favorite. And sometimes it's good to see ourselves in others, to remember where we used to be."
"I just keep seeing me and Taylor on these courts doing the same thing those two are…and for the first time, I think about it and I can't stop smiling. Being here makes it hard to be sad, but instead I just feel so…thankful and glad that I had the experiences I did with her."
Kessler offered her a small smile as he swallowed a bite of his apple.
"Good. That's what it's about. Looking back on memories with a smile. Remember that one Dr. Seuss quote?"
Bella slapped her forehead. "You and your quotes."
"I can't help it!" he defended, "My wife has a daily calendar with different ones on it!"
"We both know it's not your wife's." She rolled her eyes, "Continue."
"Anyway, the quote is, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." And while I agree with Mr. Seuss to a point, I think that it's really okay to cry that it's over, but then you gotta smile because it happened."
Bella nodded as she ate another cracker and he took a bite out of the red fruit he was holding.
"You're a good coach," she commented.
He grinned. "It's easier when there are good people to coach."
Bella was about to reply, but she looked over and saw Brianna standing up, along with another girl Bella recognized as a senior. She listened as the captains addressed the players.
"I know we talked about this last week at captains, but I want to let you all know that it's going through." Brianna held up a white tennis skirt that had small purple stitching on the bottom.
"This tennis season is going to be dedicated to Taylor Daniels Cullen, an alumni who helped lead this program into where it is now and inspired all of us. She may no longer be with us, but we're going to play for her this year. All of our skirts are going to have the initials TD embroidered in purple to honor her."
Bella's eyes watered and a tear leaked out of her eye as the girls all started conversing about the prospect and looking at the skirt with smiles of agreement. And even though she was crying, she still felt a sense of peace and happiness that had been with her since leaving her truck.
It's so much better to cry with a smile on your face.
May the angels protect you, trouble neglect you
And heaven accept you when it's time to go home
May you always have plenty, the glass never empty
And know in your belly, you're never alone
May your tears come from laughing, you find friends worth having
As every year passes, they mean more than gold
May you win and stay humble, smile more than grumble
And know when you stumble, you're never alone
Never alone, never alone
I'll be in every beat of your heart when you face the unknown
Wherever you fly this isn't goodbye
My love will follow you, stay with you, you're never alone
Never Alone, Lady Antebellum
AN: Sorry this update is a tad later than usually, I'm just a fan of posting on my birthday! Your reviews are like presents to me (:
Not a lot of E&B time here. This chapter was mainly on Bella healing, because we've seen a lot more of Edward processing his grief, and now he's on the right track. We had to get Bella on that track with him!
What do you think of where their relationship's at now? How do you think Edward's handling everything? Is Kessler just what Bella needed?