going to be home?” Jacob asked, pulling at my shirt with his small hand to get
know, honey. But he should be back any minute.” I answered the dark haired
5-year-old. He had clearly inherited Dan’s hair colour, that looked like milk
he’d play with me tonight.” Jake told me, and his eyes started glowing at the
thought of all the Lego and games he could play with Dan.
We had just
eaten dinner and I was in the kitchen, putting the dirty dishes in the
watch TV until he comes back?” my son looked at me with puppy dog eyes and it
was so hard to say no.
today. But don’t be too loud your little sister needs her sleep, right?” I gave
in and before I had even finished my sentence the little man had already
sprinted into the living room and jumped onto the couch.
at his enthusiasm and turned the TV on for him since he couldn’t handle the
remote control very well. He made me zap through all kids channels we had until
he discovered that they were showing his favourite show on nickelodeon. He
shouted for me to stop and seconds later his eyes were glued onto the screen.
to check on your sister, honey. Tell me if you need me for anything.” I said
softly, while ruffling through his hair.
I walked up
the stairs of the house me and Dan had bought four years ago. Jake was one year
old when we moved in and it was a pretty hectic time for both of us back then.
I slowly opened the door to our daughter’s room. She was now 11 months old and
the whole family loved her to bits. I had expected that Jake would be a bit
jealous of her, like all kids were when they got siblings, but he wasn’t. Jake
was a typical older brother figure, he wanted to protect the little thing and
he always asked me if he could hold her. I had put Ava to bed right after dinner
and just wanted to check if she had already fallen asleep.
careful not to make any noise when I walked up to her cradle. Ava was already sound
asleep. Her tiny body was hidden behind a little blanket that she held onto
with her little hands. One could only see her round head. She looked like an
angel and her and Jake made me proudest mother in the world.
finished studying law at university a long time ago and took over his dad’s law
firm. That’s why he wasn’t home for dinner tonight. He had crazy working hours
and was very successful, but he also loved what he was doing. He had been in
New York for the last three days for a business meeting and I had already
started to miss him dearly. He had called me in the late afternoon, telling me
that he couldn’t wait to be home and spent time with me and the kids.
Dan was a
great daddy. He played games with Jake whenever he managed to have some free time.
They went to football games together on the weekends and Jake was already on a
junior football team because he wanted to be as good as his dad. Dan loved his
son and daughter equally and he was the one who fed Ava her baby food and read
her good night stories. The cutest thing was that whenever Dan got home late
from work he’d give me a peck on the lips as soon as he returned and then he’d
sneak up to the rooms our kids were sleeping in to give them a little good
night kiss on the forehead.
Ava sleep for a minute or two just because she was a tiny bundle of cuteness
and looking at her made me feel all warm inside. I checked if the baby alarm
was turned on before I left the room and closed the door behind me. Shortly
before I was about to walk downstairs my phone started ringing. It was Dan.
I answered and walked into my bedroom so I wouldn’t wake up Ava.
expected that Dan just wanted to let me know that he had safely arrived at the
airport and that he was going to be home in half an hour, but it wasn’t Dan who
was on the telephone.
“Who am I
talking to?” the person on the other line asked. She sounded like a middle-aged
Howell.” I answered, confusion in my voice.
Howell your husband?” the woman wanted to know, sounding concerned.
“I am his wife, yes.
What happened?” I asked and suddenly my heart was racing.
Howell, I am calling because you are your husband’s emergency contact.”
emergency contact started ringing in my ears and I sat down on the edge of the
bed I shared with Dan. I swallowed hard to prepare myself for what the lady was
going to say. I nervously kept fiddling with my wedding ring.
“I don’t know if it’s already on the news, but
the New Yorker aircraft had serious technical difficulties during the landing. Mrs.
Howell it breaks my heart to tell you that, but I’m afraid that your husband
didn’t make it.”
And in that
moment the world stopped turning.
hit the ground after I had dropped it out of shock, but I couldn’t hear the
loud thud it made. Somehow the whole world went quiet, deathly quiet. All air
had left my lungs and I had troubles breathing, unable to comprehend that Dan
wouldn’t return home in twenty minutes. We had hung up a huge picture from our
wedding day above our bed. I couldn’t help but stare at the dark-haired beauty
who stood next to me and smiled into the camera. The thought that I would never
be able to see that smile again send waves of endless pain through my body.
Never before had I ever felt such hurt. The feeling was unbearable and indescribable
at the same time. I thought I’d sink to the ground but in reality I was just sitting
on the bed, unable to move and stared into the void. It was surreal.
couldn’t be a world without Dan Howell. I sat there on my bed, swallowed by horror and
sadness and I didn’t understand why time hadn’t stopped ticking. It was just a
simple phone call and suddenly my live was turned upside down. There were no
goodbyes, just a ‘see you in three days’ and maybe that’s why it was so hard
for me to understand that 3 days would pass without him coming back.
I remember the time I broke my arm when I fell
out of a tree. It hurt like hell and Dan ran back to my house to get my mum. Later
he signed my cast and told me that everything was going to be alright. That
wouldn’t happen this time. There were no casts for broken hearts. And Dan was
are you crying?”
my hands from over my eyes. My face was drowned in tears and snot. My whole body
was shaking with sobs. I wanted to shout and cry out in misery but Ava, our
daughter, was still sleeping next doors. She and Jake would have to grow up
without their father.
walked up to me. There was a sad look on his normally so happy face. He
examined his mother’s tears. I took him into my arms and pressed his little
head against my heaving chest. I caressed his chocolate brown hair and held him
as close as possible.
daddy going to be back?” he asked.
When I started
sobbing heavier instead of saying ‘soon’ he started crying too.
are going to be late for my football game.” Jake whined. He was all dressed and
ready to head out, but stared at the staircase with an annoyed and awaiting
look on his face. Jake grew up to be a very handsome teenager, just like his
father. The similarity was striking. He was the quarterback of his high school
football team and I was sure that Dan would be very proud of him.
please hurry up.” I shouted and seconds later my daughter came running down the
“Why do you
always have to take hours to get ready?!” Jacob complained as his little sister
put on her jacket and shoes.
his tongue out at him as a response.
“If you two
don’t behave, uncle Phil will not take you to another game.” I threatened. They
groaned but didn’t keep fighting.
patiently waiting for the kids to get ready. He was taking them to Jake’s game today
since I didn’t have time to do it myself. Over the past couple of years he had
visited us a lot on the weekends. Phil barely missed one of Jake’s games, being
a football player himself he loved to support his godchild. He was always there
to help when times were rough and I could tell that he always enjoyed spending
time with the kids since he didn’t have his own family.
honey.” I said and kissed Jake’s left cheek.
he protested and wiped over his cheek with the sleeve of his sweater.
I shook my
head laughing. “Have fun.” I shouted and waved as the kids hopped into Phil’s
for taking them.” I told Phil, giving him a quick hug.
problem, Rose. You know how much I love those little bugs.”
why I didn’t have time to attend Jake’s match today was that our house was
being renovated on Monday and the attic had to be empty till then. I hadn’t
been in the attic for years. It wasn’t big and we still had unopened boxes from
when we moved into the house fifteen years ago up there. I wasn’t really a fan
of spiders or small rooms, but the work had to be done. After I had climbed the
foldable attic stairs I found myself in a crammed room filled with boxes and
I had cleared out most of the cartons when I discovered a box that
somebody had written “important” on. It must have accidentally ended up here
along with all the other useless stuff. I carefully tore it open and found a
few pictures that we took in college. There were Phil, Caleb, Hayley and I and
of course Dan. We were laughing in most of the pictures. There was a picture of
Dan, smiling so wide that his dimples were showing and a picture of me sleeping
that he must have taken without me noticing. I also found Dan’s old football
jersey and on the bottom of the box there was something soft and dark grey. I
pulled it out and before I had even realized what it was my heart had started
racing and I was crying again for the first time in a few months.
“Hello, my name is Rose and I found his
jumper” I said, my voice trembling.
Rose. It’s nice to meet you.” All members of the self-help group replied.
And then I
started telling them my story. I told them about my childhood best friend, who I
watched the sunset with. I told them about the jock that I hated in high
school. I told them about finally being with the boy I had loved for years in
college. I told them about our ups and downs and the first time he told me he
loved me. I told them how we finally got married. I told them about our two
beautiful kids. Then I told them about the plane crash and the day he didn’t
return from work. I told them about the love of my life, knowing that he was
long gone. And I told them about the jumper that he gave to me, that I cuddled
with whenever I missed him or I when was sad. I told them it was the same jumper I found
in the attic and the one I couldn’t fall asleep without now.
“I will never forget about you. You will always
be my best friend. I promise.”
Dan whispered and smiled at me gently. There
was only one last glimmer of the sun left and just as that vanished as well I
felt Dan’s hand on top of mine.
Dan, do you
remember the one time we watched the sunset on the last day of our summer break
before you started high school?
I asked you
how long forever is and you said:
“Forever is the amount of time I want to spend
The music started in the garden and Jake felt his stomach
churning with nerves. Pooch patted his
back and he looked back at him.
“Relax.” He mouthed
to him and Jake nodded, looking down and tapping the tip of his shoe on the
ground anxiously. The morning had gone
way too fast although at the time it seemed to drag on. He thought back to the events of the day as
he waited to keep his mind off of his nerves.
He had woken up early, went to Claire’s room to check on her
only to find Eleanor already up and already helping her prepare. She shooed him away saying Claire was in the
shower and would text him later. He
headed back to their house to get ready and meet up with Pooch and Cougar for