Thanks to MariahajilE, drivingedward, goldentemptress, BellaEdwardlover1991, bugsmama07, and Momma Laura for all of their help and support on this story.
The banner and pictures from the story can be found in my Facebook group – beegurl13's Fanfiction Beehive – and my Facebook page – Stories by beegurl13 – and I can be found on Facebook as Bee Lynn.
There are 9 outtakes for this story. Some of them go along with certain chapters, others don't. If there is an outtake that goes along with a chapter, there will be a mention of it at the end of that chapter, as well as at the beginning of the outtake. All outtakes can be found at the end of this story - Chapters 61 - 69.
This is for Polly and Whitney...
The wind blew across my face, whipping the baby hairs along my temple into my eyes. Maybe it was my eyelashes that caught them, or maybe it was the water pooling on the lashes. Either way, it stung, yet I didn't care. I was just grateful I hadn't worn mascara. After crying every day for the past three weeks, I'd learned it was better to go without it. At least I wouldn't end up with black smudges under my eyes by the end of the day. I had enough to worry about, enough people who knew my pain. I didn't need a neon blinking sign for those who weren't in the loop or too caught up in their own lives to have heard the news.
"Mommy, I needa go potty," Makenna whispered.
"Shh, baby. Not right now."
After a few moments, she started to wiggle in her seat. She was only three. I knew she didn't have a lot of time.
"Can you hold on for just a minute?" I asked her quietly.
She nodded. "I trying, Mommy, but I needs to go real bad."
I sighed, listening to the preacher as he continued to ramble on. I had no clue what he was even talking about anymore. I hadn't heard a word he'd said, anyway. My thoughts were kind of somewhere else and on anything except the box sitting in front of me.
There was a small office building at the end of the section we were seated in, and I leaned to my left to whisper into Collin's ear. "I'll be right back, okay?"
"Where are you going, Mommy?" he asked, his eyes wide and watery.
"Kenna needs to go to the bathroom. I'll be right back."
People around us were starting to stare, starting to glare, starting to get annoyed with my obvious lack of manners and regard for the situation. Their thoughts were of no concern to me. I didn't care. I slowly stood up, smoothing my black dress down my thighs as I did. With my movement, the crowd went silent. Even the preacher stopped talking.
"My daughter needs to use the restroom," I said aloud for everyone to hear. "The world doesn't stop spinning because of things like this. It just keeps going, whether we want it to or not. Excuse us for a few minutes." I reached down and took hold of Makenna's hand and pulled her behind me toward the office, where I knew there was a bathroom she could use.
I was only a few yards past the back row when I heard steps behind me.
"I'll take her," he said, and I turned to see Edward hurrying toward us.
"No, I got it. You should go back."
"Bella, please. Let me help you, okay? Please."
I shook my head and kept walking, knowing he would follow us. And he did.
Once we'd reached the office and my daughter was inside the small bathroom, I ran my hand through my hair and stared up at my brother-in-law. "How did you do this?" I asked with a shaky voice.
"The same way you are," he said, smiling a sad smile at me. "You just do what you have to do, and don't listen to what anyone else expects of you."
He knew what I was feeling, what I was going through. He'd been in my exact shoes less than two weeks earlier. It was a tragedy, they said. A senseless accident. There was no way to avoid it, no way to know what would happen, no reason for it. It was random and stupid and shattering, and I couldn't change it or fix it or erase it. It was done.
"You need to check on her?" he asked, rubbing his hand on my upper arm.
"Yeah," I said, then cracked open the door to make sure my little girl was okay. Once she was all done, we started back, walking through the grass toward the group that had gathered. Aro and Heidi watched us closely, a strange look on their faces as Edward helped us back to our seats. He smiled down at Collin, ruffling his hair when he walked past us to his chair at the end of the row. My niece, Emily, was waiting for him, leaning against his chest as soon as he sat down next to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
"Alec and Jane left this world in much the same way they entered it," the preacher said. "Both in a hurry, unexpected, and together. We'll miss their laughter and their beautiful spirits, but we're so grateful that pieces of them live on in these beautiful children. Collin and Makenna, you are made up of the best parts of your father and he'll always be with you, just as Emily's mother will always be with her."
I heard Emily sniffle and shake against Edward's side, clearly still upset over the death of her mother, Jane.
"Let us pray," the preacher said. Everyone around me began to mumble The Lord's Prayer, but I was silent, quiet. I couldn't say it. I couldn't feel it. I didn't care. My husband was dead, gone, and I was alone. Alone to care for two small children, to be a single parent. To be known forever more as the Widow of Forks.
Looking over at Edward, my brother-in-law, I wondered how I'd ever make it. How I'd ever get through all the things I knew I had to deal with. How I'd get on with my life. How I'd ever be happy, or complete, or even content again. Edward looked toward me, our eyes meeting and sharing a pain many would never know.
I didn't know what my life would be like after Alec, and I really wasn't ready to find out. But fate didn't seem to care what I wanted. I placed my arm around my son's shoulders, touching Edward's hand and grabbing onto it with a strong grip that seemed to surprise him.
"You're okay," he mouthed to me, nodding and smiling just a bit.
I was okay. I'd be okay. I had to be; my children were counting on me. I wasn't sure how, but I would make it. In that moment, a sense of relief washed over me, and I let out a breath that I could have sworn I'd been holding for the past three weeks. Everything was different, but I would learn to adjust and survive. I watched Edward and knew I would be okay, just like he was, after Jane died.
This story begins in January. Emily is seven, Collin is five, and Makenna is three.