I am soooo sorry its been such a long time between updates but we have all had a flu type virus - twice! When one of us got better another one would start. I've had no energy for a couple of weeks now, its only just started coming back - then my daughter caught it again and at this moment in time my husband has caught it again!
Then I hit a wall with this chapter, but I've climbed over it so I hope its ok.
I might have taken a few liberties with this chapter - for instance, I'm assuming that Henry's wife died before Franks wife.
Anyway, here goes...
The traditional sound of Silent Night filled the frigid night air as the large double doors of the church opened to release its occupants. The parish priest stood in the doorway wishing his congregation a Merry Christmas as they filed past him out into the crisp, dark night. The midnight mass had been a joyous affair, as there had been lots to give thanks for, "Thank you Father, it was a lovely service." Linda shook his hand. The priest smiled at her, "Thank you Linda - there's a lot to be thankful for in your family this year," he stated as he glanced back into the church towards the rest of her family, who were still seated.
"Very true Father, very true..." Henry strode up behind Linda and the children, "Thanks again Father, and a Merry Christmas to you!"
Henry took the car keys from Linda, as she had her hands full with a slumbering Sean, so he had offered to drive them back to his and Franks house, where it had been decided that all the family were staying for the next few days.
Meanwhile, the remaining Reagans all sat together in a reverant silence - allowing the soft tones of the church choir to wash over them. Frank was still kneeling, eyes fixed on the crucifix hanging before him, deep in thought and prayer.
Danny, who was never one to sit still for very long, was already figiting, glancing around him, always on alert, "Danny stop it - you're giving me the heebie jeebies!" Erin whispered as she nudged him with her elbow.
"Sorry sis-I just get a little stir crazy sometimes."
Erin couldn't hide her smile, "You've only been here a little over a hour..."
Danny looked surprised. He glanced at his watch, "Really?"
Erin rolled her eyes and turned her attention to her youngest brother, who was currently sat with his head in his hands, "You ok Jamie?" Erin asked quietly.
Jamie lifted his head to reveal his exhausted features, "I'm fine Erin," he answered tiredly.
"You look and sound exhausted, Jamie, perhaps we should get you home," Erin countered, her anxiety for her brother kick starting her mother henning.
"No I want to light a candle first," he explained as he stifled a yawn. In truth, he was extremely tired, even though he had had a three hour sleep earlier, but he wasn't going to let that get in the way of the tradition that had started after his grandmother had passed away."Good evening Frank - always good to see you and your family here at mass," the priest's voice broke into their quiet conversation. Frank smiled and shook his hand, "We always try never to miss this mass Father...another beautiful service."
"Why thank you Frank. I have to say that midnight mass on Christmas Eve always holds a special place in my heart - there's something magical about it."
He looked down the line of Reagans until his eyes fell upon Jamie, "I read about what you did Jamie - a very selfless and brave act - I'm so very thankful that you seem to be recovering well."
Jamie ducked his head, embarrassed by the attention that was aimed his way again, "Thank you Father," he replied quietly.
"And how are Erin and Danny?" The priest asked, smiling at the two older siblings, "I'm surprised you're still here Danny - I know you find it difficult to sit still," he commented, causing sniggering to break out from the others. Thankfully Danny saw the funny side of it, "Yeah, good one Father," he chuckled.
The priest took his leave, wishing them all a Merry Christmas - leaving the Reagans to their yearly tradition of lighting candles for their loved ones.
They each took a candle, lit it and one by one placed it in a holder, "Merry Christmas Mary," Frank whispered as he bowed his head in silent prayer.
"Merry Christmas Grandma," Erin stated as she set her candle steady in its holder.
"Merry Christmas everyone," Danny set his next to Erins.
"Merry Christmas Joe - miss you every day big brother," Jamie whispered over the lump in his throat. As he set the candle down, the flame flared causing Jamie to take a step back in surprise, "Looks like Joe misses you too kid!" Danny stated as he put an arm around a tearful Jamie and brought him into a warm embrace. They were quickly joined by Erin and finally Frank, who somehow managed to get his arms around all three of his children.
"Merry Christmas guys."
They never heard the words from the presence in the shadows - but he was there and would continue to be close for as long as he could.
That was it! I know it was short - and probably full of cheese but I hope it wasn't to awful.
I really struggled with this chapter, but I wanted to round the story off. Hope it was ok. Hope to see you again soon xxx