Life After You

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Chapter 15

“Olivia! Olivia, sweetie, are you alright?” My dad’s voice boomed throughout the church as I slowly stood up, using the podium to pull myself up.

“I-I’m fine. I think.” I mumbled, running my hand gently along my stomach.

“Should we take you to the emergency room?” Tori asked as she helped me stand up straight.

“No, nothing hurts or feels strange. There is no blood anywhere. I think I am fine.” I quietly spoke, not wanting to share my news with everyone inside of the church.

“Well, okay. Please be careful!” My dad soothed while lightly rubbing my back. “After we leave here, I want to take you to get an ultrasound, just to be sure.”

“Okay dad. Thank you.” I sadly smiled as they all took their seats again.

I slowly stepped towards the podium and stood in front of it. I took out my folded piece of paper and placed it on the podium. I took in a deep breath, as I have not yet looked up at the crowd, and pushed a piece of hair behind my ear.

I cleared my throat once and began, still feeling a little shaky.

“Well-” I looked up at the crowd with a small smile, “What an entrance huh?”

A few light chuckles zoomed throughout the room.

“Landon would have been the first to tell you how clumsy I am. I suppose I never really grew out of that phase. Landon knew everything about me, and then some.”

I slowly read from my paper while occasionally looking up to see people’s reactions. There were a few tears, and many sad smiles. I saw Barbara with sad eyes and a tissue in her hand. Her eyes lit up when they reached my own.

“See, we met in the second grade when Landon moved to Nevada with his parents. The moment I saw him, I knew he was special. Well that, and there were a few kids picking on him and I could not stand the sight of bullying. I immediately knew that I wanted him to be my friend. Little did I know; he would turn out to be my entire universe.”

Barbara’s eyes began leaking yet again, and I almost winced at the pain I was most likely causing. Although, this is a funeral, a time to grieve and feel the most sadness.

Brian put his arm securely over Barbara’s shoulders and I longed for the days when Landon used to do the same to me whenever I were having a bad day.

Water began lining the rims of my eyes and I knew that before this speech were over, I would be a mumbling and crying mess.

“The very day that I talked to Landon for the first time, I invited him over to my house after school to have a snack and play. Mind you, a little boy probably had no idea how to play with a little girl, so of course once he got to my house he began hanging out with Riley my older brother.”

At the mention of Riley, I found his eyes and he slightly nodded with nothing but a sad smile on his face. I glanced at Tori sitting next to him with her head leaning on his shoulder. He had his protective arm around her shoulders as well, and I gave them a small smile.

“Riley instantly clicked with Landon, despite the small age difference. So here I was... little seven-year-old Olivia, mad because my new friend would not stop hanging around my older brother. Eventually they let me join them and I got over my mood. Riley was Landon’s best friend and I just want everyone to know just how special their bond was and how incredibly sad I am to see it end so suddenly.”

Riley shed a small tear and I gave him a reassuring smile as Tori placed her hand over his.

“Landon not only impacted my life, but he impacted so many other lives. All he could ever talk about were how much he missed his parents when we first moved to Florida.”

I glanced back at Barbara and Brian who proudly smiled at my words.

“Him being an only child gave him the time he needed to bond strongly with both of his parents. To Barbara and Brian, Landon loved you like no other, and I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for you both and how well you raised the man that I grew to love unconditionally.”

Barbara then turned into a crying mess as she buried her face into Brian’s chest. Brian gave me a very warm, proud smile and wiped a small tear of his own from his cheek.

“And boy did I love that man. Waking up to his smiling face is something that I will always treasure and remember. Landon was certainly one of a kind and if I could just go back in time...” A tear finally fell from my eye, “I would only want to tell him again, how much I loved him and how much he means to me.”

I slowly brought my hand to my cheek and brushed the tear away as more threatened to fall.

“I can’t help but feel like this isn’t right. That he shouldn’t be gone. That he should still be here, popping up from one of those seats saying ‘got ya!’ or something along those lines. He was taken from this earth far too soon and I am so deeply intrigued at how sudden this incident was.”

I looked down at my paper and realized that I had already finished reading my words, and now I was only talking completely out of randomness and I noticed that if I didn’t wrap this up soon, I would be standing up here all day talking about Landon.

“I also have another announcement to make.” I began, and I could see the questioning looks from around the room.

I slowly stepped away from the podium and lifted my hand to my stomach, emphasizing my small bump.

“I am carrying Landon’s baby. I found out right after the accident and it has been a hard pill to swallow. I am a few months along now and growing every day. I do not know the sex yet, but I will be finding out shortly. All I can say at this point is this baby is a true gift from God. Not only did he bless me with barring a child, but also he blessed me with something I will smile about for the rest of my life. A true piece of him that I will cherish forever, until my fateful death.”

Enormous amounts of gasps were heard throughout the room. Not everyone knew that I was currently pregnant, and I honestly have no idea what gave me the courage to announce it... During Landon’s funeral at that.

“I know you all must be shocked, I know I am. We weren’t even trying to get pregnant. I know that Landon would have been an amazing father. We always joked about our future children and what they would look like or how they would act. I just never thought that would become a reality. This baby is a silver lining in the chaos that is my life now and I just wanted to share that little bit of happiness to everyone here today, despite the tragedy that we have all come to feel.”

I smiled at Landon’s parents and took my piece of paper, folding it back up and holding it tightly in my hands.

“To wrap this incredibly long speech up, I just want to finish by saying that I am truly grateful for each and every one of you, and thank you beyond words for coming today to celebrate the beautiful life of Landon Cavalier.”

I found the courage to smile at everyone, who were now beaming at me from the pregnancy news. I gave a slight nod to the pastor and found my seat next to my father.

He instantly wrapped his arm around my shoulders and gave me a very proud smile.

I buried my face into his chest and finally let the tears consume me.

Once the pastor finished Landon’s service, the funeral home workers took Landon’s casket to be buried next to his Grandfather’s.

I could not even watch them cover his casket with dirt. It was like saying goodbye for the final time. I could not bear it.

I felt nauseous so as everyone watched Landon’s burial, I walked away clutching my stomach.

“Olivia?” My father said but I didn’t acknowledge him.

Once I was further enough away from the crowd, I began running. I had no clue on where I was going, but eventually I stopped.

I collapsed to my knees and looked up at the tombstone that lay in front of me.

“Here lies Jane Harper – Beloved mother to Riley and Olivia Harper.”

“Mom...” I whispered. “It’s been so long since I’ve came to visit. I’m sorry. College is so amazing mom, really. I love seeing new sights.” I sniffled.

“Riley is doing okay... he gets decent grades, not that his high school transcript would agree.” I softly giggled into the cool air.

Tears began falling from my eyes. One by one, tear after tear until my face was completely soaked in the salty liquid.

“Mom, Landon is gone. He is gone and I don’t know what to do. As you may already know, I am carrying his child. What if something bad happens and I lose this baby? I can’t even think about it.”

My fingers began trembling and I slouched in front of my mother’s grave.

“I miss you mom. So much. It was so hard when you died. Now I have to deal with losing Landon too. How many more people are going to leave me that I care about?”

I looked up into the sky and then slowly back down onto my mother’s grave.

“I know it’s not your fault. I am sorry. I think about you all the time mommy. Remember that summer when we all went to Disney land? Riley got scared of the walking Disney characters. Goofy came up to him and ever since he has been afraid of dogs.” I chuckled to myself.

“I remember that.” I heard from behind. I instantly turned my head and smiled when I saw Riley standing behind me.

“It was so funny.” I looked down at my lap.

Riley came and sat next to me. “Hey momma. I’m not sure what Liv here has told you, but it wasn’t me who ate the last brownie that one Christmas Eve, no matter what she tells you.” He joked while nudging my shoulder with his. I laughed.

“Oh please, it was so you.” I stuck my tongue out.

“Come on mom, who are you going to believe? The devil herself or your first born?” Riley proudly smiled to which I rolled my eyes.

“I can still hear her laugh.” I softly spoke. Riley looked over at me.

“Me too.” He sadly smiled.

“I can’t believe they are both just gone. That we will never see them again.” I frowned.

“I know sissy. But we can’t think that way. We have to smile at the fact that one day we will see them again, up in heaven. Landon will be waiting for you, and he will greet you with a kiss. Mom will have a batch of her famous brownies made and waiting for us, well for me.” He smirked. “And we will all live eternally together.”

“You’re really cheesy sometimes Rie.” I giggled.

“Only the best for my baby sis!” He pulled me in for a side hug while kissing the top of my head.

“We’ll be okay Liv. I promise.” He softly spoke.

“You’re right.” I sighed into the cool air. “We will be okay.”

“So Doc, how is everything?” I asked, peering over my stomach to look at the doctor my father called.

“Well, there’s a strong heartbeat and nothing seems to be out of place or bleeding. I’d say you are going to be just fine! Your baby too.” He smiled.

I beamed at him and looked over at Tori to which she gave me a smile with thumbs up.

“Is it still too early to know the sex?” I quietly asked.

“Hm, let me check.” He smiled.

“Well, you are right about 13 weeks, so about three months along. Normally we can’t see the gender until about 16 weeks, so you still have another month before the big reveal.”

“Aww, alright. Thank you for checking.” I sadly smiled. I really wanted to know if I was having a boy or a girl. I have a gut feeling it is a girl, though maybe it is only because I couldn’t handle having a little boy who looks exactly like Landon. It would be too much too soon. Although, no matter what the gender, I will love this baby to no end.

“No problem. I’ll fax the records from this stay to your OB in Florida, alright? Take care!”

“Thanks Doc!” I smiled as he left the room.

I got up and Tori helped me get dressed. When we met Riley and my father out in the lobby, they were pouncing for details.

“Hey sissy, what happened? Is the baby alright?”

“Sweetie, did the baby get hurt? Did you find out the gender? I hope I have a grandson in there.”

“Um, guys. Chill. Everything is fine and I don’t know the gender yet. I still have a little bit to go before I find out.” I rolled my eyes.

“Sheesh, what crawled up her rear?” Riley whispered towards Tori.

“I can hear you.” I deadpanned as I made way outside to our car.

“Wow! Tori, pregnancy gave Olivia super powers! She can hear almost anything!” Riley squealed as he jumped up and down.

“You are such a child.” My father sighed as he got inside the car.

“Yes I am. Your child.” Riley smiled.

“Sometimes I really question that...” My father mumbled towards me, causing me to giggle.

“Hey I heard that!” Riley pouted while crossing his arms.

“It’s alright babe. I’m happy to have you.” Tori cooed while patting Riley’s head.

“Aww, you’re the bestest girlfriend ever!” Riley beamed, squeezing the life out of Tori in the backseat.

“Yuck, get a room.” I mumbled.

“We plan on it.” Riley winked to which my dad glared in response through the rearview mirror.

“Lord help us all...” I deeply sighed while Tori’s face became red.

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