I found his jumper 15 || D.H.
A/N: I want to apologize for this part in advance. It was planned like this from the beginning (check part 1). This is the end of the IFHJ series. Thank you for reading it. x
Word Count: 2.1K
going to be home?” Jacob asked, pulling at my shirt with his small hand to get
“I don’t 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 chocolate.
“Daddy said 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 dishwasher.
“Can I watch TV until he comes back?” my son looked at me with puppy dog eyes and it was so hard to say no.
“Okay, just 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.
I laughed 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.
“I’m going 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.
I was 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.
Dan had 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.
I watched 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.
“Hi, baby.” I answered and walked into my bedroom so I wouldn’t wake up Ava.
I had 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 lady.
“Rose Howell.” I answered, confusion in my voice.
“Is Daniel Howell your husband?” the woman wanted to know, sounding concerned.
“Yes, I am. What happened?” I asked and suddenly my heart was racing.
“Mrs. Howell, I am calling because you are your husband’s emergency contact.”
The word 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.
My phone 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.
There couldn’t be a world 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 gone. Forever.
“Mummy, why are you crying?”
I removed my hands from over my eyes. My faces drowned in tears and snot. My whole body was shaken 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.
Jake had 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.
“When is daddy going to be back?” he asked.
When I started sobbing heavier instead of saying ‘soon’ he started crying too.
“Mum, we 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.
“Ava, please hurry up.” I shouted and seconds later my daughter came running down the stairs.
“Why do you always have to take hours to get ready?!” Jacob complained as his little sister put on her jacket and shoes.
She stuck 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.
Phil was 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.
“Good luck, honey.” I said and kissed Jake’s left cheek.
“Ew, mum!” 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 car.
“Thank you for taking them.” I told Phil, giving him a quick hug.
“No problem, Rose. You know how much I love those little bugs.”
The reason 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 on 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 spider webs.
I had cleared out most of the cartons when I discovered a box that somebody had written “important” on. It most 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 on most of the picture. 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 with 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.
“Hello, 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 was sad. I told them it was the same jumper I found in the attic and the one I needed to fall asleep 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 with you.”