“Gillian?...Gigi?” she heard the gentle voice calling her name and ignored it. She didn’t have the energy or the inclination to talk. She just wanted to go back 72 hours and beg him to go to the doctor, to fight whatever it was that was making him sick. But she didn’t know then what she knew currently and the pain was all consuming. She felt a hand on her arm and the voice again calling her name again.
She turned her head and saw her best friend Carrie looking at her with tear stained cheeks and her husband, Kurt with his arm around her and a look of love and concern on his sad, but handsome face.
“Gigi honey, are you ready? Everyone else is gone…” Carrie asked gently.
Gillian looked at her, trying to comprehend her words, but it was like she was talking in some foreign language. She sensed they were trying to get her to leave and she finally relented. She was tired and cold or at least she imagined that she was after standing at the cemetery. She couldn’t feel anything.
Kurt went on one side of her and Carrie the other. They got her in the limo and turned the heat on full blast, trying to warm her as they drove to where the reception was being held. They escorted her into the room with a hot cup of coffee pushed into her hands.
It felt like hundreds of people came by to pay their condolences and how sorry they were for her loss. They had no idea how much of a loss it actually was. Mike Bryant was more than just her guardian. He was her world; the one person in the world that loved her and was her family. Well, the only family that she knew of.
Carrie set a plate of food in front of her and gave her a no-nonsense look indicating that she needed to eat. Sighing deeply from lack of energy and sleep, she picked up the fork and put whatever was closest to the piece of metal into her mouth. She had no idea what it was, but it was warm. Like a robot, she put in several more forkfuls as the afternoon wore on.
“Gillian?” She looked up and saw a gentle smiling face of Harold Jenson next to her.
“Sweetie, I will see you tomorrow at my office ok? We have to get the reading of Mike’s will done and settled. I will have the hall send me any other bills, ok?”
Gillian nodded her head and stood up to hug the sweet man and whispered her thanks. He kissed the top of her head and smiled sadly at her as his wife Janet hugged her as well. She watched them walk away and sat back down and saw the face of her ex-boyfriend coming closer. He sat next to her and put an arm on her chair in his usual cocky manner.
“Gill, I just wanted to say how sorry I am. Mike was a good man. If you need anything, you have my number. I will always be there for you.”
“Thanks Ian. I appreciate it…” she replied back, wishing that he would just leave along with the rest of the people that were lingering.
“I heard Mike’s lawyer say you have the reading tomorrow. Do you need a ride to his office? I can do that for you…” Ian asked.
Not really caring, she nodded and replied, “That’s fine Ian. Thanks.
He smiled and leaned in, kissing her half on the cheek and half on her lips, then left. Finally, people said their final goodbyes and Kurt and Carrie packed her back up and ushered her back to the limo. Having left their car at her condo so they could ride with her in the limo, they thanked the driver and took her upstairs to get her settled.
Carrie could see she was beyond exhausted and helped her into some sweats and a long sleeve t-shirt. February was very cold in Montana and she had been outside for too long already. Kurt set her alarm clock for 10:30 the next morning so she could get up and get to the lawyer’s office. He went and got the mail from her marked box and put it on the table as he heard them talking.
“…So call me when you get up so I know you are up. Are you sure that you don’t want me to take you? I will.”
“No Carrie, you have already taken too much time off. Ian said he would take me so I will let him I guess…”
Kurt wasn’t thrilled that Ian was lurking around again. He sensed that he was going to try and weasel his way back in now that Gillian was going to be getting some money, the slime ball. He would have to talk to a few people and make sure that didn’t happen.
Satisfied that she was set for the evening, they kissed her and hugged her tightly and closed the door behind them. Being alone for the first time in three days, Gillian flopped on the couch and pulled a blanket around her, listening to the welcomed silence. She closed her eyes for a minute, feeling an impending headache coming on from all the crying and the sheer exhaustion. She went to the bathroom, took a few pills and then came back, grabbing the photo album from the bookcase.
She sat back down and flipped through the pages. She was very thankful for the protective plastic over the pictures as the tears fell like rain from her eyes. She saw herself growing up with the man she loved dearly, always with her; encouraging her, loving her and building her up. From horseback riding, dance classes, reading, teaching her to fish and to hunt, he was there. She loved her childhood and the only thing she would have changed was actually having her parents there.
She turned to the last page and saw the one photo that she had with her mother and father before she passed away in the hospital the day after she was born. For the next six years, her father raised her alone. Mike was his boss, best friend and the owner of the construction company that he worked for as an electrician when a freak accident killed him.
Mike took Gillian in and petitioned to be her guardian so she wouldn’t end up in foster care. Mike was older than her dad and recently divorced when he hired her father several years before. He found out that he couldn’t have kids and adored Gillian, so it seemed only natural to take her and raise her. She already knew him and had a relationship with her. Gillian and her father lived in the apartment over the garage at his house. The three of them were together quite a bit.
She remembered the camping trips and the first time she caught a fish. She was proud of herself but absolutely refused to clean the fish. That was the last trip the three of them took before she started kindergarten and her father died. She gingerly touched the picture of her father laughing hysterically as Gillian had a look of total disgust on her face with the dead fish on the table. Gillian looked to see how much she looked like her father. The sun shone through the picture, catching their hair, making it look like it was on fire.
Mike and her father always told her to be proud of her auburn hair, no matter what the kids said. It was the most beautiful color and she was special to have it. It wasn’t until she was older that Mike had told her more about her father that she realized that she knew nothing about him other than he was from Scotland. He and her mother came to America to elope as she was pregnant with Gillian and being from a very Catholic family, no one was very pleased about the whole situation.
Feeling the pain and heartache starting to set back in her chest, Gillian put the photo album on the coffee and laid her head on the pillows she had and let the pain overtake her.