...the funeral home was only a few miles form the house, but Jane had wanted to get there early to have some time by herself with her sister.
Cara and Jane walked from the car in stride with each other, Jane's arm hooked to Cara's.
Cara's heart sank deep inside her chest as she stood at the soda machine. Just beyond the machine, Cara's little brother, Charlie, lay fighting for his life. Cara and her family were at the hospital intermittently and together during Charlie's grueling treatments. The family vowed to stand together and stay strong and see Charlie through his new battle with cancer. Care felt a bit guilty as she slid her quarters into the soda machine and saw that her favorite drink was sold out. She immediately started to beat herself up in her head. "You're so stupid, Cara! Your brother is lying in an ill lit hospital room, and you're upset because the dumb soda machine is sold out of root beer!!? Grow up!!!" she yelled to herself.
It had been about 2 months since the Cane family had been first apprised with Charlie's condition. Charlie turned 6 in the hospital. Jane was faithful to Cara, just as Cara was faithful to Jane during Ally's death. It was the summer after Ally passed away and Jane wasn't doing any better than when she first learned of Ally's death.
Positive spirits and encouraging words filled Charlie's room. The Cane's were sure that their little bout would pull through. And He did for awhile. The night after Cara stood at the dumb soda machine, Jane called to see if Cara wanted to hang out and go see a movie. Jane wanted to get Cara out of the hospital even if just for a few hours. The Cane's took turns staying over at the hospital, and it was Cara's turn, but her parents were happy to see her get some fresh air. Jane arrived about 30 minutes after phoning Cara. Cara jumped from the chair next to Charlie's bed, startled. Her phone was buzzing, it was Jane. Cara stood up and blew Charlie a kiss as she walked out of the room.
Jane and Cara had a great time together, and didn't talk much about life's current circumstances. They just had fun, it's what the both of them needed. They laughed through the movie, and exchanged funny stories about themselves as younger kids over some hot chocolate after the movie. It was alight-hearted evening full of humor and just best friend chatter. It was a satisfying night and a much needed break from life for both girls. It was getting late, and Jane needed to get home, so she drove Cara back to the hospital.
The girls said goodnight to each other and Jane drove away. Cara walked through the swinging doors, and into the waiting room. She looked up from putting her phone back into her purse and the chairs in the lobby, empty only a few hours before, were now filled with members of Cara's family. Cara stopped and her smile quickly faded, her eyes wide open. "What... why are you all here, where's Charlie?" Cara's Uncle Dave, her favorite uncle, looked up at Cara, his cheeks puffy and said, "Charlie headed home," and glanced upward with his eyes to the ceiling.
Cara fell to her knees. She knew what Uncle Dave meant, Charlie was in Heaven. Cara knelt in shock, and didn't make a sound. Tears didn't well up, her lip didn't quiver, her shoulders didn't shake. She just kneeled there in utter silence.
The elevator buzzed, indicating someone was getting off on the lobby floor. Cara didn't even lift her head. She just observed the pattern of circles on the hard floor. then she heard the sound of slow, heavy steps walking toward her. She recognized her mother's shoes but didn't move from her spot. Mrs. Cane knelt beside her daughter, and whispered, "Love you, Cara. I love you so much."
The next 12 hours were a blur for Cara. she was awake all night in her grandparent's guest room. Cara didn't want to be alone that night. She called Jane the next morning, notifying her about the recent turn of events.
"Hi Jane, it's me," Cara said somberly. Jane knew why her best friend was calling her, she could sense it in Cara's voice.
"Cara, I love you. And i want you to know that it's OK for you to need me. I want to be needed by you. I have no words to offer any sense of comfort, only know that i will do anything for you. Just give me the word, and I'll do it."
Cara lost her composure. She doubled over on the floor and cried into her pillow. Jane stayed on the line, and remained silent. Jane was immediately consumed by flashbacks of seeing her sister for the last time. Her year anniversary was nearly 2 weeks away. Jane shook her head as if to chase the thoughts away and whispered through the phone, "I wish i could fix it, Cara. I wish i could strip the pain right off of you. I wish i could carry it for you. I can tell you that i will do anything i can to just be a normal person. I'll just continue to be your friend. nothing will change. I will still be your best friend."
Cara sniffled, and managed to muster a "thank you," and slowed down her breathing. "I love you so much," Jane said softly. Cara whispered back, "I know Jane, I know."
"I'll call you soon, Cara, get some rest, don't think, just cry, just let yourself go, give yourself a break. Go for a walk, write in a journal, play a game, do whatever you need to do. I'll see you when i see you. I'll come over when you're ready to be with people."
Cara started to cry again, "Jane," Cara managed, "I'm ready right now."
"Ok, Cara, I'm on my way," Jane replied. "After all," Jane said, "it is Tuesday."
end part 4
end part 4