I finished this a lot sooner than I thought I would. Huge thank you to all of you readers! It's taken me a year and a half to finish this. In that year and a half I've been through a lot so actually finishing this story is a huge deal to me. There were times I never thought I would! Now I can mark it complete. I've been wanting to finish this forever now, so why am I so very sad? Women are crazy I guess. Anyway, here is the very last chapter.
Sophia paused outside the bedroom door, her hand on the knob. She wasn't sure how long she stood there. The house around her seemed to whisper to her, encouraging her to open the door. She imagined that she could pick out individual voices. Voices that held pieces of her heart, pieces of her soul.
"Why don't you let me help you?" Carl asked worriedly, wrapping an arm around her waist and speaking directly into her ear. The whispers stopped. The house was silent again.
She shook her head. "It's been a month. I'm ready to do this on my own," she said, taking a deep breath and willing herself to open the door.
He kissed her cheek and backed away, leaving her in the hallway alone. She took in a shaky breath and opened the door, stepping into the room before she lost her nerve. She pressed her back against the cool wood, her eyes closed, breathing deeply. The familiar smell of her parents taking her back to a different time. She didn't want to open her eyes just yet. She wanted to stay there in the memory. She wanted, for just a brief moment, to allow herself to be that little girl again. She loved her boys and she loved Carl but she longed for the feel of her mother's arms around her. She longed for the look that Daryl would give her when she did something that made him proud.
Opening her eyes she took in the empty boxes that were stacked in the corner, waiting to be packed up and taken upstairs to the attic. She went to the bed and started stripping the sheets off, holding back a sob. Willing herself to be as strong as they had always been. Trying as hard as she could to force the tears back.
When Carol had gotten sick, it had seemed like something that she would bounce back from pretty quickly. A doctor from another compound had came to see her and had visited many times after that. Daryl and her mom had assured Sophia that she was fine but eventually it was obvious that she wasn't fine at all. For two months she had lingered, fighting as hard as she could to stay, but in the end, for once in her life, her mother hadn't been strong enough. Daryl had taken it all in with a strange calm that had almost scared Sophia. He died in his sleep a week later. He hadn't been sick. It was like he couldn't face a world that Carol was no longer apart of so he had just... given up.
That was a month ago and Sophia had treated their room like a shrine. No one said anything to her about it, even though she knew herself that it wasn't a healthy way to deal with her loss. She had been blessed for twenty nine years. She was lucky. Her boys were lucky. She needed to just let them go.
She worked methodically, folding and packing. She sat down on the edge of Daryl's side of the bed and pulled out the nightstand drawer, expecting to find a mess of odds and ends he had stowed away in there. She frowned down at what she saw instead. It was an envelope with her name scrawled on it. She recognized Daryl's handwriting and she smiled at the name he had written. He refused to acknowledge that she was a Grimes now and had been for twenty years. To him she would always be Sophia Dixon. She held the envelope for a long time, staring down at her name. She blinked away more tears before she opened it.
Your mama ain't getting any better and that dumb ass doctor tells us that she won't. I ain't too sure what is going to happen once she's gone but if you're reading this, then I must be gone too. I want you to know that I'm sorry for that.
I don't scare easy. You know that better than most but I'm scared now. I can admit it to you but I try to hide it from her. She's more worried about me than she is of dying. We don't know how much time we have left and knowing that the clock is ticking, well, it's damn scary. I can face down anything and not even blink. Hell, I have. But facing life without your mama ain't something that I feel I can do. You might could go on without Carl cause he's such a dumb ass so you may not understand. We've had a lot of years together and they were good happy years. I owe you for that. I owe you for every good thing that's happened to me and I hate the thought of leaving you. I really do, but I need her. I have to go wherever she goes.
Anyway, I'm not all to good with telling people things but, assuming I'm not around anymore, it don't matter what I say to you. I can't imagine resting easy thinking that you may not know how much I love you. Your mama wants to know why my face is so red so I guess I ain't much better at writing how I feel than I am at saying it.
I'm proud of the woman you turned out to be. Me and your mom, we talk about it all the time. We did a fine job. You may have bad taste in men but I think that's your mom's fault instead of mine. I guess I'm joking. Carl ain't so bad. I don't like to admit it though. Not even on paper. He is a good dad to those boys. You make sure they know that I'm so proud of them. All the time I got to spend with them out there in the woods was some of the greatest times of my life. Just wish I had more time. I guess it's too late for wishing.
I'm going to go ahead and go now. She's getting pissy about the light in her eyes while she's trying to sleep. Not only that but I think the last time I wrote anything I was still in Junior High so my hand keeps trying to cramp up on me.
You remember to keep your head up. You don't take no shit from anybody. And never ever forget how much we love you. You of all people should know that me and her are together somewhere out there. Try not to miss us too much because every good thing about us lives on in you and those boys.
She read the letter over and over, laughing at a few parts and brought to tears all over again at others. She wondered if the ache would ever go away. The empty feeling that she couldn't shake and hadn't since the day she found that she had lost them both. She read that last few lines one last time before carefully folding the paper the same way he had and placed it back into the envelope. That last line had something stirring in her stomach and it took her a little while to realize what it was. He was right. They were out there and they were together.
She walked to the window, squinting towards the trees where the ones they had lost over all these years had been laid to rest. She knew he hadn't meant that they were together in death. Death meant little in her world. They were out there and she knew that if she could let go of her selfish need to keep them with her, she would be able to feel them. Wherever they ended up, a part of herself would be with them.
I ended it like this because I thought it was fitting. All I wanted to do was let it be known that Sophia had been right. They lived a long happy life together. I'm a very predictable writer because I always end things on a happy note. I don't like torturing my characters. There is enough bad things happening in the show so I try to bring a lighter note to my stories. As a rule, I don't kill people. Not these people. But I didn't want to leave this story the way I've left the others. I hope that's okay.
Axelrocks, as always, was a huge part of this. Getting it off the ground took a lot and she was the reason I started it in the first place. No her no story, just like the others. Halohunter89 made it possible for me to finally bring it to a close. Thank you both for all of your help and I hope you forgive me for ending it this way.