CHAPTER FOUR HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE
“I don’t have any words to make you feel better,” Sandy said. “I know that we can feel better or that we should. Chet was a young man, who had to live a very hard life. We all hoped that we could make a difference in his life, to help him live free of … everything, I guess. Heather and Blane are just destroyed, and I …”
Sandy touched her chest and her eyes welled up.
“I … I had … a really hard life,” Sandy started, and then stopped. “But I had a … a chance to get over … it all, to live beyond all of what happened and create all of … this. I wanted to help Chet in the way I was helped. I hoped that I could, but …”
Sandy nodded her head rather than finish the statement. She felt movement and Aden appeared behind her. His hand moved across her shoulders until it rested in the small of her back.
“We wondered if you’d like to stay home today,” Aden said.
“This week,” Sandy said.
“Just to give yourself a chance to rest, grieve,” Aden said.
Rachel ran around Aden’s legs and threw herself onto Nash’s bed. Noelle picked up her sister and put her onto the bed in the middle of them. Nash hugged the little girl.
“I want to go to school,” Noelle said.
Nash and Teddy nodded.
“Chet went to school,” Teddy said. “We think we should have a real wake or a memorial.”
“There’s only a few people in our class,” Nash said. “Chet was a part of our class, our school.”
“Can you make something?” Noelle asked Sandy.
“Sure,” Sandy said.
“I’ll go wake up Jake,” Aden said. “He and Val can talk to the school and your teacher. I know they’ve already arranged for counselors to be there in case anyone needs to talk.”
Noelle, Nash, and Teddy nodded in near unison.
“What makes sense to me,” Sandy said, “is for each of you to write down how you feel.”
“Can I draw?” Noelle asked.
“Sure,” Sandy said. “Express yourself from the heart.”
“About Chet,” Aden said.
“I don’t think I can do that at school,” Noelle said.
“Let’s talk to Jake,” Aden said. “Maybe you work on it this week and we have a wake later in the week, maybe this weekend. Hopefully, Tink will be feeling strong enough to come home.”
“Can we do it for us and then do it for her later?” Teddy asked.
“I don’t see why not,” Aden said.
“I just feel so…” Noelle said.
“I think we all do,” Sandy said.
Everyone nodded, including Rachel.
“Charlie’s not even here to make pancakes,” Rachel said.
“Hey! Who do you think taught Charlie how to make pancakes?” Sandy asked.
“Get dressed,” Aden said. No one moved. “Go on.”
He gestured them into the bathroom.
“We are alive,” Sandy said. “We owe it to Chet and everyone who’s gone to live our lives because they can’t.”
Not sure of how to respond, Noelle got up, went into the bathroom, and slammed the door. They looked at the door for a moment before Sandy picked up Rachel.
“You want to help me make some pancakes?” Sandy asked.
Sandy kissed Rachel’s nose, and they left the room.
“Teddy, use ours,” Aden said.
Teddy passed Aden and they left. Nash went to pound on the bathroom door as he did every morning.
“This is my life and I don’t want to spend it waiting to pee!” Nash said.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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