Florence hated seeing herself in black, black meant darkness, black meant all hope was lost.
But here she stood on the church field with Levi, her parents, Macie and many patients and nurses, she knew what was coming, she herself had told Levi she wanted to speak, needed to speak at Chase’s funeral.
She refused to go and look at his coffin, she didn’t want to remember him as a corpse, she wanted to remember him alive and well like the last time she had seen him, she didn’t want her memories tainted by a still body.
Her mother squeezed her hand as she took a deep breath and stepped onto the podium pulling out her note cards, she imagined him next to her, squeezing her hand or telling her a silly joke to lighten the mood and began:
“Most of you here knew Chase here from the hospital, I knew him from the hospital where I was admitted as a patient
Most doctors and nurses do amazing jobs in whatever they do, but Chase Roberts went above and beyond in his duties, it was like he didn’t even see them as duties, though I wasn’t aware that he was a patient himself at the time he was without a doubt the best thing that could have happened to me at the hospital
It saddens me beyond belief that his parents who sadly perished in a house fire were no longer around to see the commendable person their son became, in my years I have never seen such humility, and such a sense of hope radiating from a person, to be faced with death and still manage to work up a smile everyday is an amazing thing
Everyone who met Chase couldn’t help but see him for what he truly was, an inspiration, an embodiment of what it means to be a human being, I hope that I will live a long and healthy life so I can continue to spread the message of a nurse who managed to save my life in so many ways
To all of you standing here please don’t mourn that a life was lost, let your grief turn into your happiness that his was a life not wasted, it was a life spent caring for others and we should all strive to follow in his footsteps
When people die the first thing to feel is pity, pity and sadness as I’ve felt for days on end, but just because someone is dead it doesn’t mean they are lost forever, they’re only lost if we let their candle burn out, if we don’t stoke their fire with our memories and our joy, I ask you all now to stand in respect and in commemoration for the greatest person I have ever met and will possibly ever meet
Please stand for Chase Roberts, and remember him”
She was crying now and she wasn’t the only one, tissues were appearing everywhere like white flowers waving in the wind.
Her Mother and Father rushed towards her and scooped her up into a hug as she sobbed onto their shoulders.
Her Mother stroked her hair soothingly “I’m so sorry darling, I had no idea that he meant so much to you”
Words couldn’t describe how much Chase had meant to her, still meant to her.
Dr Levi was hugging Macie tears dripping into his greying beard and she dabbed at her own eyes, Florence reached into her pocket and felt for Chase’s note for reassurance, she carried it around everywhere along with his dying wish in her heart, she was going to find Cole Roberts even if he didn’t want to be found and she was going to tell him how amazing his brother had been, how amazing he could be if he just took a chance on life.
She was leaving the hospital this week, Levi had come to tell her this morning, he believed she was ready to be released into the world once more, and he had told her that she was brave enough now, braver than she had ever been he had brought with him a guidance councillor to talk about her career plans, up till now she had never thought about the future, she had been so stuck in the past but now she wanted to go college.
She wanted to make something of her life.
She was Florence Elizabeth Clarke.
And no one would ever have the right to label her again.
They stood arms around each other as the rose petals were scattered onto the coffin and the sun slowly set, none of them were crying anymore, instead they wore almost triumphant smiles on their faces, smiles showing that when the world tried to tears you down all it took was a friendly hand to bring you right back up again.
Florence rested her head on her Mother’s shoulder feeling her steady breaths, to her shock she saw Neeta appear in her periphery, but instead of her usual twisted scowl Neeta was smiling, she looked at ease and her features were no longer angry, she embraced Florence as the sky turned black.
“You did it Florence, you beat me”
And then she was gone, disappearing into the night sky.
They were both free now.