Epilogue - Five year’s later
My black heels sunk deep into the mud as we made our way up the hill. The grass was wet, the rain was still pouring down. Raindrops hit the umbrella I was holding over our heads with a small plop. Small beads of rain from the umbrella somehow dripped onto my simple knee length black dress.
I sniffled, my throat was closing as I tried desperately to hold off my tears.
"Mom, I'm wet. I wanna go back to the car" Lillian complained as she put a little pull of restraint on my arm. Her shoulder length dark chestnut hair, much like my own, was pulled back on the sides by two shiny pink butterfly clips. Her blue eyes blinked up at me and I could tell she was close to throwing a fit.
I glanced down at her and frowned, "I know you are but this was mommy and daddy's friend. Once we're done here I promise I will get you some dry clothes ok?" I practically pleaded with her. I needed this moment to say goodbye to my friend. The downside was the kids didn't understand and didn't really care. They knew the basics and she just wanted to get out of the rain, to be dry and to be playing with her toys.
She didn't want to be in the rain, walking in the cemetery and watching a service for someone she hardly had a chance to meet.
She made a loud sigh but she quit trying to pull away and walked willingly forward.
The black casket that held my best friend sat beneath a large white open tent. Sarah's parents were sitting in two of the two dozens chairs placed just inside the tent. Her mother was sobbing and clutching her husbands arm.
My throat tightened even more as we stepped closer and just before we stepped beneath the tent I felt a hand on my back.
"Daddy, I wanna go home" Lillian said as she glanced at him from behind me.
"We need to be here Lilly. This is important"
She went quiet and Alec ushered us towards the front, towards her parents. I reached over and gripped his hand right for support. My legs were shaky, they felt like rubber. I still couldn't believe she was gone.
I had just spoken with her a week ago, only two days before she passed away. She had seemed fine, she had seemed to be more herself than she had been in awhile and that was really saying something.
The cancer had taken its toll on her over the last few years. She had lived longer than the doctors had predicted but still I thought we would all have more time with her.
It was true, time doesn't wait for anyone.
She had lost so much weight, she couldn't stand for long periods of time sometimes she couldn't even stand at all. Her memory had begun to falter.
Tears slipped down my cheeks as we came up to her mother and father who stood immediately and embraced us both. Despite the fact that we had once had a horrible past, we all had overcome it.
Her mother hugged me tight and the hurt in my chest squeezed like a vise. Tears spilled like a water fall and I clutched her as she was clutching me. "I'm so sorry" I said between sobs.
Mrs.Bockman made a small sound of distress in the back of her throat, "I can't believe she's gone. I just can't wrap my mind around it. Parents are not supposed to outlive their children" she said.
Her husband gripped her shoulders slightly and pulled her back into him. She collapsed against him, her face ashen and her eyes red and filled with tears.
Alec guided us to our seats and we waited as more people walked beneath the tent and took a seat.
My parents stepped in and my mother rushed to Sarah's mother. She embraced her and spoke softly to her, I could only take a guess that she was saying something comforting. Alec's parents followed them in and his mother did the same thing, embracing Sarah's mom.
"Cassandra" Alec said. I looked up and met his gaze and he pointed towards something.
I looked over and my eyes widened in surprise.
Brian and his fiancé Kaitlynn were walking forward, their hands entwined. His black suit nearly mirrored Alec's and her long simple dark purple dress was slightly wet on bottom. She had some of the fabric bunched in her fist near her thigh, attempting to keep the bottom from getting to wet.
I stood up leaving Lillian with Alec and rushed forward. Brian let go of Kaitlynns hand and embraced me immediately.
"She's gone Cas"
"I know" I said sniffling against his shoulder.
"I can't believe it. I can't even remember the last time I saw her or even talked to her" he said sounding regretful. "I should have called or made a quick stop when I visited my parents last, but... I didn't" he sounded choked up and squeezed me tighter before releasing me and stepping back.
"She knew how much you cared Brian. It's okay, don't beat yourself up about it. She knew" I said attempting to reassure him.
I let go and gave a sad and forced smile to Katilynn who gave a smile back.
"Hey" I said.
"Hi" she replied.
"We should probably take our seats" I said. They both nodded and I moved back to Alec and Lillian.
"Mom" Lillian began to whine.
"Don't start Lilly" Alec said sternly before pulling her in towards him and kissing the top of her head. She sighed but leaned into him. She was definitely a daddy's girl.
The service started as everyone settled down. I spotted a few people we had gone to high school with. I even spotted one of her ex boyfriends standing in the back. As the soft and sad music started I couldn't help but wonder if Sarah had never had gotten sick, what would she have done with the rest of her life?
It was a question that could never be answered.
There were soft sobs and Sarah's mother stood up slowly with the help from her husband. They stood up and people began a long line to shake their hands and utter their condolences.
Alec took Lillian's hand and we walked through the line, we gave Sarah's parents a hug and as we walked past her casket and silently said our final goodbyes.
Alec held himself together well but I knew him and I knew tonight, once we were in bed, he would grieve.
We stood off to the side and watched as they began to lower her casket into the ground.
Brian and Kaitlynn joined us.
"Are you all heading to her parents house now?" Brian asked with his arm arm Kaitlynns waist. His eyes were slightly puffy and I could tell even now he was trying to hold back from letting himself lose it. Kaitlynn looked calm and dry eyed but then again she didn't know Sarah.
I nodded and Lillian came around and spotted Brian.
A wide smile spread across her face and she barreled towards him with her arms spread, her small black dress whipping around her, "Brian!"
Brian let go of Kaitlynn just in time to catch Lillian. She wrapped her arms tight around his neck and he planted a kiss on the side of her head, "Hey munchkin" he said.
She giggled and leaned back to look at him, "Did you bring me a gift?" She asked.
Brian spoiled her rotten, usually bringing her a new toy every time he came for a visit.
He shook his head, "Not this time. But next time for sure alright?"
She seemed to think it over before nodding. He set her back on her feet and she came back towards Alec and I.
"We'll meet you at the Bockmans" Alec said and gave Brian a firm friendly handshake before we parted ways and walked to the car. The rain had let up a bit but it was still drizzling as we pulled out of the cemetery and headed towards Sarah's parents house.
They were having a small get together for close family and friends which of course meant most of the town would be there.
We pulled up to the curb behind a few other parked cars as people had already started to arrive. My parents and Alec's were greeting people at the door. Sarah's parents had sat back down at the grave sight after we had pulled away so it was likely that it would take them awhile to get here.
Lillian unbuckled herself from her car seat and Sprang from the vehicle, she headed straight up the large neatly trimmed front lawn, right to her grandmothers.
I looked at Alec and laughed, "I guarantee the next time we see her she'll have chocolate on her face. "
He laughed and replied "oh I don't doubt it"
We got out and made our way into the large Victorian mansion where Sarah had grown up. The house hadn't changed, although I hadn't really expected it to seeing as I had just been here last week but it had almost always looked the same. They had orginal hard wood floors and the intricate carved details within the wood trimmed walls and stair case. The kitchen was highly updated as were all three bathrooms but for the most part her parents had kept the classic features.
I glanced at the large wood staircase as we entered the house, the staircase that could lead us up to her room. I wasn't quite ready for that yet though.
"I'm going to go say hi to a few people ok?" He said.
I nodded and leaned up and placed my lips against his before watching him walk further into the house.
Sighing I turned on my heel and headed back out the front door and was thankful the rain had completely stopped. I needed some fresh air, and that house was jammed packed.
I slowly made my way around the side of the house, I made sure to keep my steps slow and slightly sluggish. I wanted to stay out here as long as possible.
That house held so many memories and it was difficult to take it all in with the entire town inside.
"You to huh?"
I spun on my heel and smiled as I watched Brian walk towards me. He still held his boyish charm. Even after all of these years.
"Yeah it was all just to much at once" I said.
He nodded, "I couldn't agree more. So where are you headed?"
I shrugged and turned back towards the way I was originally going as he fell into step with me, "I don't really know, I just needed some fresh air"
"Do you mind if I walk with you?" He asked.
"Nope, not at all"
We walked in a peaceful silence, just walking along the backyards wooded tree line.
After awhile he spoke up, "So how's the shop? My mother said she stopped by a month or so ago and said business was booming"
I felt my mood get a little lighter, "Yeah um, the shop is good. I've had some help with that though, Michael has really stepped up and has helped me get my name out there. He's helped promote the business in a major way. He's nearly my partner"
Brian's face held a state of surprise, "Really? So he's a partial owner?"
"No, he's more like my business guru and if I'm out of town for some reason or can't come into the shop then he steps up and he takes my place. He's actually become quite an asset" I was honestly surprised at how Michael had stepped up and stepped in. I never expected him to do anything other than help redesign the shop itself but it seemed that he had grown a bit attached to it as I had.
"And Alec is ok with that?"
I couldn't help but laugh, "He has his moments but he knows that I love him and I come home to him. Michael is attractive and all but I would never do that to Alec."
Brian made a small sound in the back of his throat and then asked, "So whatever happened to Trish?"
The great white shark had attacked again but this time she had gone hunting in different waters.
"Oh she found some older widowed man who's very rich from what Alec has told me. She hasn't show her face around me for a few years now actually" which I definitely wasn't to sad about.
"So is she just sleeping with him or?"
I shook my head, "She actually married him although from what Michael has told me she still sleeps around but I guess Michael never went back to her either"
Brian stuck his hands deep into his pockets and sighed, "Cas I feel like I've missed so much. I mean I come around a few times a year but... it just doesn't seem like enough. I miss you guys, especially Lillian. She's such a sweet girl Cas, you and Alec have done really well on raising her." He said before glancing up towards the cloudy grey sky and then back down to the grass again as we headed back towards the front of the house "I feel so guilty for not visiting Sarah as much as I should have. We were so close once and I feel like I failed her a friend."
Brian looked completely guilt stricken.
"You didn't fail her. She knew you were busy, we talked about you a lot and I kept her updated on what was going on with you and your life. She knew how hard you've been working to become a doctor and she would have been so mad at you if you'd dropped everything to come rushing to her bedside every week knowing you had to study and you had your own life to live. She wasn't upset with you Brian, don't do this to yourself" I soothed.
My words seemed to have a small effect on him and I knew he would still feel guilty for a bit but I think In time he would think on what I said and realize that he had no reason to feel guilty.
Sarah really had understood. She knew how hard he had been working.
"Thank you Cas" he said pulling me into a side hug as we walked up the front steps and into the house.
I nodded and took a deep breath before walking through the doors with him.
Alec came to my side as Brian let me go in search of his fiancée, "Do you feel better?" He asked.
I let myself relax into his body and nodded, "much" I replied and smiled.
He gazed down at me, "good" he said before kissing me gently on the lips.
Sarah was gone but she would always remain my best friend. The three of us would always remain best friends despite what we had been through.
Life could only continue from here.
And what a beautiful life it was.
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