Disclaimer: Neither the show nor the characters belong to me, they belong to ITV1. Nonetheless, I love to borrow them from time to time. The idea of the story as well as the story itself – including all possible pre- or sequels published afterwards – are mine.
Summary: Dedicated to my father – because I felt like it was the least I could do for him.
Warnings: once again not beta-read
AN: I know, it’s been a very long time since I wrote anything. This story is supposed to explain everything, that’s why I’m not going to go into too much detail here. Also, the story could take place anywhere at any time with any characters. The reason I chose Jess and Becker probably are, because first we know so little about her background story and second I could identify with her the most.
I thought about writing this story ever since April when all that happened. But somehow, whenever I sat down on my computer and wanted to start, I couldn’t. I just didn’t dare. Maybe because I feared it wouldn’t be perfect. I mean, this was supposed to be dedicated to my Dad, so I felt like it had to be perfect
It still isn’t perfect. But I began to realize that maybe it’s not all that important. What’s important is that everything Jess says in here is what I want to tell people asking me how I am or telling me to talk about it. I loved my Dad very much, and since I won’t get a second chance to tell him that, I felt I had to at least tell it to the world.
This doesn’t really have much of a plot. So if you don’t like it, don’t read.
Like I said, this is dedicated to my Dad. I love you, I miss you, and I will never forget you.
Turning away from the door, Becker decided that maybe it was better not to knock. What was he doing here anyway? He wasn’t the kind of guy doing visits of condolence. Not at all. He was neither good at expressing how sorry he felt nor at finding the right words to make anything better. Hell, he wasn’t good at talking at all.
On the other hand, everyone else had been here already, he knew that. What would it tell her if he didn’t show up? That he didn’t care, probably. There was no way he was going to make her believe that.
So, finally, he took the courage and knocked.
Her face showed obvious surprise when she found him standing in front of her door. But there still was something else, even after almost five months. He wasn’t sure if it was grief. In a way, it seemed like she looked older – if that was possible.
“Hey,” he greeted, not sure what else to say.
“Hey,” she mumbled. “Um… Come on in! Nice to see you.”
He just nodded as he followed her inside the apartment. The place was bigger than he had expected, neat and cosy.
“Can I get you anything?” she asked coyly.
He shook his head no and waited for her to sit down on the couch before taking a seat himself. He wasn’t sure what to say, so he remained silent.
For quite some time they were just sitting on her couch in the middle of her living room gazing into space. None of them seemed to have any idea what to talk about. If she had still been working at the ARC, they could at least have talked about work.
“So, how’s your new job?” he finally asked, when he absolutely couldn’t think of another topic.
She shrugged once more. “It’s okay, I guess. The ARC was better, though. I should have stayed when I got the chance, I suppose.”
“Why did you leave in the first place?”
She sighed, before replying. “It wasn’t like I wanted to leave. But they told me my work was no longer needed, so I started looking for something else. And when I had found another job, they asked me if I could imagine staying – but it was too late, at least for me.”
Becker frowned. “Seems like they’re pretty clueless about who they need and who they don’t need.”
“Thanks,” she mumbled. “I take that as a compliment.”
Once again the room filled with silence.
“Thank you,” she finally whispered. When he looked at her expectantly, she added, “For not asking how I was.”
“I know the question is useless in a situation like this,” he replied.
She turned to look at him. “Then why do so many people ask?”
He shrugged. “Maybe because they just don’t know what else to say.”
“Yeah, well, I can empathize with that,” she mumbled.
Becker turned to raise an eyebrow at her.
She snorted. “You know, people keep telling me that I have to talk about it. But I honestly don’t know what to talk about. That my father died? That I’m gonna miss him every single day for the rest of my life? That there are so many things I still want to share with him or wish I had told him when he was still there? “
It was funny. She really hadn’t known what to talk about. But now with Becker just sitting there listening, there seemed to be no way to stop the flood of words that escaped her mouth. Suddenly, she could think of so many things to say.
“That even though I saw his body and attended his funeral I can’t believe he’s really gone? That the day he died and his funeral are like an endless loop playing in front of my eyes over and over and over again? That I could burst into tears whenever I think about him?”
Her lower lip trembled as new tears threatened to fall. But she didn’t mind. For the first time, she really didn’t care if she looked like a sissy.
“That I wish I could just once more tell him how much he meant to me, because I’m not sure if he really knew? Or that sometimes I just wish he could hold me once more like he used to do when I was a kid? I don’t think that really is what people want to hear me say. So what am I supposed to talk about?”
Seeing the tears running down her cheek, Becker reached out to take her hand in his. “All of that, maybe,” he whispered. “Or none of it. Depends on the mood you’re in and the person you’re talking to.”
She nodded, and then burst into tears.
Not knowing what else to do, he pulled her closer so that her head was resting against his chest.
She cried for what seemed like an eternity. It felt good to be able to let go like that and just to know that there were people who cared.
“Can I ask you something?” Becker whispered when her sobbing had subsided.
She nodded against his chest.
“What… happened – if you don’t mind telling me?”
“In January, he was diagnosed with lymph node cancer,” she replied quietly. “No one could really tell how bad it was. Then all of a sudden he got a stomach ache and couldn’t eat anything anymore, so my mum took him to hospital. Mum and I visited him every day, but no one seemed to know what was wrong with him.
“It took them more than a week to find out that one of the nodes had grown through the wall of his small intestine and was blocking it. He had to undergo surgery first thing the next morning. They removed a part of his intestine and some of the other infested nodes. According to the doctors, everything went really well and apart from the fact that he had to spend Easter at the ICU, things seemed to get better.
“After about a week, he even was allowed to eat again. But unfortunately, for some reason he couldn’t stomach the food properly. So the next day, he was really unwell again. He felt cold and then he had a circulatory collapse. They told us his blood pressure was too low and they gave him something against it and then made us leave.
“I’m not even sure what they did with him that day. All I know is that the next morning my phone was ringing and my mum told me the hospital called her because dad was about to die. Only ten minutes later they called again saying that it was over.”
For a moment, she remained silent. But from the slight shaking Becker could tell she was crying again.
“They said it probably was a pulmonary edema,” she whispered. “They weren’t sure, of course. To be sure, they would have had to do an autopsy. My mum asked me to make the decision, but I… I honestly couldn’t let that happen to him. Maybe it was selfish, but… I just didn’t want it. Knowing it wouldn’t have changed anything anyway.”
“I don’t think it was selfish,” he assured her. “I would have made the same decision had I been in your place.”
She nodded against his chest, and then cried again, silently this time.
“I’m sorry,” she sniffled after a while.
“Don’t be,” he told her, gently kissing the top of her head. “It’s okay. If you feel like crying, you shouldn’t try and keep it in.”
“You know what I don’t understand?” she whispered. “That people always say the first time after is the hardest. When is this ‘first time after’ going to be over? I can’t say that it gets any better. If anything, I guess it’s getting worse.”
“I don’t think that there even is something like a ‘first time after’. It’s not so much the time… It’s… the things you do without your dad for the first time. I don’t think this will ever stop being hard. The pain won’t stop. But somehow, after some time, you will learn to live without your dad – and with the pain of having lost him.”
She raised her head to look at him.
“I lost my dad when I was fifteen,” he answered her questioning look. “And it still hurts to think about him.”
“I’m sorry,” she whispered.
Smiling sadly, he replied, “I think no one should know what it feels like to lose someone – especially not a parent. But eventually, we all get there, I guess.”
She just nodded.
“I can’t promise that it will get better,” he told her. “But I promise it will get less painful eventually.”
“You know,” she whispered in return. “It’s not only that I lost him. It’s also that… at the moment, my whole life really sucks. I don’t like my new job and I can’t stop thinking that everything would be a lot easier if I was still working with the ARC.”
“But things don’t have to stay that way,” he mumbled. “Maybe you’ll eventually start liking your new job. Or maybe you can return to the ARC some day. You’re the best field coordinator ever, after all. Maybe one day they’ll realize that and ask you to come back.”
Raising her head, she looked into his eyes and the hint of a smile crossed her face. “Yeah, maybe.”