By the time her parents, Jack and Sophie, knocked on the door, Sally had forgotten they were even coming. The afternoon had been spent going through Chris’s office and tidying it. There were cups and plates hidden under his desk that Sally had long thought were smashed.
“How you keeping up?” Jack asked while hugging her as he walked in.
“I’m doing okay, thanks dad.”
“That’s good. If you want to be left alone or want us to stay just let us know, alright? Whatever you need we’re here.”
“I’ll take this into the kitchen,” he said holding up a bag of Chinese food.
Sally led her parents through the house and into the living room. She sunk into the sofa seat that she’d spent almost half a decade worth of evenings in. Her mum sat down next to her, sitting up straight on the edge of the seat, while her dad found his way to the armchair and started to dish out the food.
“Is there anything else you need doing?” her mum asked.
“No, thank you,” Sally replied. “Thanks for the food though. The fridge is empty, and I hadn’t really thought about eating.”
“Oh Jack. We should have picked up some things on the way. I’m sorry. We’ll do it tomorrow morning.”
“That’s okay. I can do it.”
“We emptied the fridge and cupboard of any perishables when you were in hospital. It would be awful to have to deal with ants or something when you were back. If we’d known you were coming back home today, then we would have made sure you were stocked up.”
“I know mum, thank you.”
They started eating in silence. Sally couldn’t really taste anything she ate, just the nausea it brought on. For most of the time, she just played with her food, picking up little bits here and there as a show to stop her parents from worrying further. She could hear every single tick of the clock in the corner of the room, and each one seemed to take longer to arrive than the one before it.
“Do you remember when we used to all eat at our place,” her mum said. “All four of us and you and Chris would bring over the food, just like we’ve done today.”
“Yes, I remember,” Sally said.
“I loved those nights. We would play boardgames. They were the highlight of my month. We used to have such fun together.”
“That’s okay, honey,” Jack said. “If you don’t want to talk about him, then you don’t have to.”
“It’s not that,” Sally said.
“You have to remember the good times. It’s how we’ll get through this,” Sophie said.
“There’s no one way for anything,” Jack replied. “Let Sally deal with it how she wants to.”
“Dad, please. I’m not a child anymore, either of you. I’m dealing with it, okay.”
“Sorry,” Jack said.
Sophie didn’t say anything, she just looked down at her food in silence.
“Mum, do you remember what you used to tell me? About when grandad died, and you saw him.”
“Yes, I remember. I’ll never forget that.”
“Tell me about it again, please.”
“Of course, honey. I was on holiday at the time when it happened. I was on a beach with friends. This was before I even knew your dad. I was sitting there in the sun, having a great time. We were all having fun. Then the sun seemed to fade away. There was a shadow over us, but no one cared. It was a large rain cloud that was coming over and it started pouring. It came out of nowhere and soaked us all through. There was panic where everyone got up and started running about. As I stood up, I saw my dad, your granddad, he was standing on the pier over to the side, looking over me and the sea. He saw me too, I could tell. I stopped moving and just looked at him, made eye contact with him and he smiled at me. It was very strange, but very calming. Then the clouds parted, and the sun came back and started baking us again. Something distracted me and I looked away for a second, when I looked back, he was gone, but I knew. I knew he’d died. I couldn’t explain it to anyone, but I told my friends I had to go back to the hotel, so we did, and I called my mum, and she told me that he’d fallen down some stairs at work. I told her it was okay, that he was in a better place. That I knew he was at peace. I could sense it. She asked me how I could have possibly known that, and I told her it was just a feeling. I was still sad when I went back home that day, still cried at his funeral, but I know he’s always looking over me. He’s always been with me and I’m happy to know that he’s okay. In the same way that Chris will be with you always. He’ll always be looking after you.”
“So, you believe that there’s something after this?”
“Yes, absolutely dear. Ask anyone, they all have weird stories or things that have happened after someone died. It isn’t just me. Ask your dad about his uncle. Go on Jack, tell her.”
“It’s nothing quite like that, Sal, but it’s still weird. My uncle always told me about how his grandma always sung a song to him, and the day after she died when he was going to the shops to buy a suit for the funeral, he heard someone singing that same song in the street. Someone he walked by. It was an old song, something you didn’t hear very often. It made him feel like she was alright, wherever she was.”
“No problem. I don’t know if there is anything else after this, but I think people get to say goodbye, in their own way at least.”
To be continued…
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