A Thousand Days
Epilogue-A Thousand Days
The Future-New York City
She stood at the window of their loft and stared out at the expanse of New York City, marveling at the granite streets, the cleaning bots, and the hovering cars which drifted aimlessly down a sun drenched road. As she stood there, she was struck with the strangest sense of déjà-vu, a feeling as though she had once done this same thing only long ago. As she searched her own memories, clarity found her most un-expectantly, for that first night in the loft with Rick those many years ago that had meant so much was the harbinger of her ever changing matrix. That night, Kate placed her mother’s case in the past, a beacon of a life unworthy of her only to have the specter of Mason Harrison whisper his evil into world, and yet, it was also the first night she spent in the loft together with the man she loved. It’s interesting how life always seems to come full circle; how both the most wonderful and painful moments can rise from the same ashes, how it always seems to conjure memories of actions long past, how it can force us to look back and wonder, and in the end, how it can reveal to us, in sharp detail, the moments of our lives that matter the most.
Over a lifetime, Kate had come to discover one important thing. Life isn’t measured in minutes, days or even years. It is measured in moments. The moments that define us, that challenge us, that break us and that lift us higher. Time is just the tool we use to keep track of the pieces of our lives. Ultimately, if your life consists of enough moments, if your life is comprised of those special times when happiness breaks through the despair and agony, then life can be a magical journey.
When Rick walked into the loft, he was struck with the momentous turn of the past few days. As one, Rick and Kate had lived lives that made a difference and provided him purpose. Since the day they were together, the woven tapestry of his life projected the color of the love and sacrifice they shared. What he realized early on was that life was death’s partner, the two inexorably linked just as he and Kate, and when they faced death, their link had brightly shown a path through the darkness. His purpose, like that of any relationship, was to show her that death was worth a life of love and joy, and her purpose was to show him the road he sought towards redemption and meaning.
When he saw her at the window, he was struck with the strangest sense of déjà-vu, “Kate?”
She didn’t turn, her knowledge of his presence the product of a connection that only grew as time passed, “Hey old man.”
She had taken to calling him that when the grey overwhelmed him, “You know how much I love it when you say that.”
He walked up behind her and wrapped his loving arms around her stomach, “Oh, I know you do, but you love me, so you will indulge.”
“Everything is ready?”
“Yeah, everything is planned and ready to go. You did most of the work, though.”
She sighed and continued to look out the window. Even after all this time, she was still a mystery, and in this light, he couldn’t be sure what he saw play across her face. “I tried to get everything ready but…”
“It’s alright, Kate. Nobody is good at this.”
A tear escaped her eye and snaked a salty path down her older and wrinkled face. “Rick, am I a good person?”
Rick looked down at his wife of thirty years and finally understood the internal struggle she faced, “Of course. Of course you are a good person, Kate.”
“I just…I just wonder whether…”
Rick caught on quickly, “Whether you have lived the life he would have wanted?”
“Whether I lived the life they deserved. My mom…my dad…did…did I make them proud? Did I honor their memory?”
“I know they were both so proud of the life you built. I’m not really sure you had to honor them, but yes, I…I think you did.”
She turned in his arms and laid her head on his chest, “How do you know that?”
He looked down at his wife and smiled, “Let me show you.”
Slowly Rick backed away from his wife and took her hand. He led her into Emma’s old room and there he showed her the moments that made her the best person he had ever known. On the wall was a mural, painted by her grand daughter Emily that was only finished yesterday as their anniversary gift:
11,120 days since they first kissed, for real, in the study of the loft.
10,751 days since they were married on the beaches of the Hamptons. Everyone who mattered was there, it was a joyous occasion.
10,123 days since they found out their family would grow in number.
9,921 days since Emma Rose Rodgers-Beckett was born.
9,723 days since the score was tied at 12.
9,722 days since they were separated.
9,714 days since they were rejoined.
9,698 days since the investigation into Mason Harrison was finally closed. At the time of the close, three United States Senators and six United States Congressmen were indicted for corruption, along with thirty-two of the most powerful people in New England.
9,687 days since they found out their family would once again grow in number.
9,484 days since they were blessed with Charles Alexander Rodgers-Beckett
9,123 days since he published the last Nikki Heat novel.
8,846 days since she was promoted.
8,821 days since he started a new set of novels based on Alexis.
8,820 days since Alexis graduated from Columbia with a degree in law.
8,780 days since Alexis was accepted into Duke Law School.
8,243 days since they nearly lost Emma.
8,186 days since Rick decided to run for mayor.
8,185 days since Rick’s last day at the precinct.
7,934 days since Rick became the Mayor of New York City.
7,674 days since the attempt on Rick’s life that nearly succeeded.
7,456 days since Jim Beckett married Evelyn Masters.
7,123 days since the family lost Martha to cancer of the liver.
6,819 days since Alexis became the Assistant District Attorney of New York City.
6,567 days since Alexis married Austin Williams.
6,234 days since their first grand-child, Emily, was welcomed into the world.
6,078 days since Alexis was divorced.
5,873 days since Alexis became the acting District Attorney of New York City.
5,134 days since Alexis officially became the District Attorney of New York City.
5,014 days since Rick’s last day as Mayor of New York City.
4,872 days since Kate was chosen to replace a retiring police commissioner.
4,534 days since this family buried Captain Javier Esposito.
4,087 days since Kate retired from the NYPD.
3,765 days since Rick wrote his last book based on an intrepid lawyer named Alexis Williams.
3,546 days since Rick began to write a new set of novels based on a crime-solving piano prodigy.
3,351 days since Emma graduated from high school and was accepted at the Juilliard School of Music to pursue her love of the piano.
2,914 days since Charles graduated from high school and was accepted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study mathematics and economics.
2,541 days since Rick’s heart attack nearly took him from the family.
2,214 days since Kate retired from her position as Executor of the Johanna Beckett Scholarship Foundation.
2,013 days since Kate began to write her own set of detective novels in the vein of Sherlock Holmes.
1,546 days since Alexis left New York to work at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
945 days since Rick wrote his last book.
944 days since Kate released the last of her detective trilogy.
534 days since the accident.
504 days since they finally left the hospital together.
134 days since they discovered her father’s lung cancer.
130 days since her father gave her the letter he told her to open when he passed away.
And 1 day since her father, my great-grandfather, took his last breath, with a whisper of love and devotion, at the age of 93.
They made the moments count. And so will we…
The mural took up the entire south wall and was adorned with drawings for each moment that spoke of their lives together. It told their story is vivid detail. Their fourteen year old grand-daughter was quite the artist, “It’s beautiful.”
“It’s also how I know you are a good person. You made the moments count, and I could never be more grateful.”
Kate leaned into Rick and allowed him to envelop her, “We both did, Rick.”
Rick smiled and held her close, “You made it easier.”
Kate smiled but her thoughts turned to her father, “I don’t know how I am going to get through tomorrow.”
“You will do it with the same fierce determination and stoicism that you employed to face down the worst and bring them to their knees. And I will be by your side…”
Kate allowed another tear to stream down her face and turned to her husband of over 30 years, “As you always have.”
Later that night…
Of the many nights they had spent together, few had kept him up like this. They weren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination but they had a rule. Do not go to bed angry and do not fail to say ‘I love you’. It was a rule she had reluctantly agreed to, even if cliché, but one that had brought them joy and peace for over 30 years.
Of course, they still avoided things…
They were in bed together later that night when Rick reached over to his nightstand and pulled a letter from the drawer, “Kate?”
“Did you forget about the letter?”
She sat up a little in bed and looked at the letter Rick passed to her, “No…it’s just…with everything…”
Rick smiled in understanding and placed his arms around his wife, “Why don’t you read it, baby?”
She looked into his eyes and grabbed his hand that was around her stomach for the support she both needed and knew he would provide. He held her close, and though she was apprehensive about this letter, she knew she couldn’t hide from it. She wasn’t even sure why she wanted too…
Kate slowly took the letter from Rick and opened it:
When I first got the diagnosis, I wasn’t scared. We should only fear death when we haven’t had enough life, and for the last thirty years, I gulped it down. I did that because of you, and though I am so very sorry that I have left you, I can’t help but think it’s alright.
When Johanna died, I slipped to a place only few could fathom or reach. It was an abyss, a cave of my own making, a giant hole that I dug with a shovel born of past mistakes and weakness, and yet, all I remember from that time in my life was the ever present constant in my life. You. I don’t remember the alcohol, I remember you. I was so grateful then, and I’m not sure I can express how grateful I am now. You brought me back. You forced me to face my own demons. I could never thank you enough.
As our lives went forward, I finally realized that while I may have lost Johanna, I always had you. When you and Rick began this magical ride you embarked upon, I saw the life and the passion with which you met life. By doing so, you both inspired me to truly live once more, and for many years, I finally embraced a life I never thought I could.
As I come to the end of my life, I am reminded that a father’s primary purpose is to see his daughter achieve a life touched by the wonder and majesty of this world. And I succeeded. Somewhere along the way though, you became my hope, my inspiration. You forced me to live.
And now I must return the favor.
I must ask one final thing of you, Katherine. Please do not mourn my death, do not allow death to taint this life you have created, and if at all possible, revel in the joy that I felt because you were brave enough to allow others into your life. If you must, celebrate my life, and know beyond a shadow of doubt that I died a happy and fulfilled man.
Death is not the end, Katie. It’s not the worst possible ending to a wonderful tale. Death is simply another twist on this road we follow. For you, the road stretches out much further than mine, it is a road full of love and unbridled joy, and if you ever understood my meaning, please now understand me when I say that I want you to embrace those moments that you have created. And have yet to create.
Do not waste a moment. Not one single moment, as I did those many years ago. Learn that one lesson from me, Katie.
Learn the urgency of life.
I love you so much, baby girl. You and Johanna made life worth living.
Now, go and embrace the years you have left. Live them for Johanna. Live them for me.
But mostly, live them…for you.
With all my love
Kate finished reading the letter and did not fight the tears which tore down her face, threatening to quench a fire deep within. She sobbed for her father, and as she fell, as he always had, Rick was there to hold her up, to catch her, and allow her heart to beat back the grief. As it had done so many times before.
She looked into the green eyes of her husband and found solace in the same place she had for over thirty years. Tomorrow was another day she would cherish, as she had the 11,200 that had come before, and though she would be burying her father, she understood the great power of the joy they had brought each other.
As the night passed, she cried in his chest for her father, she laughed at Rick’s tales of her father’s life, and later, when she was ready, she would celebrate his life and the moments he had created.
But more than that, she would live. As she had for thirty years. In memory of all those who touched her and made her a better person. In memory of the man she called father and the woman she called mother.
Her heart had conquered her darkness, had won out over the guilt, and the trials of a once tragic life. For Kate Beckett, when the grief collided with her powerful heart, when the agony of tragedy threatened to destroy her, she fought back with the most powerful muscle in the human body. Her heart. Her light from within.
She was a stained glass window.
As we all are.
And now that you know, it’s your turn to shine.