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Epilogue: 7 Days - The Aftermath Of Love - Part VII
Disclaimer: The following chapter might contain disturbing and/or painful descriptions and touch sensitive issues.

Los Angeles, June 25th 2009, around noon

Drifting off to La-La-Land.
To the place where there is no voice in his ears, no pictures in his brain, no melody moving his aching body.
He can feel his features relax, the pain slowly fading from his aching limbs and this calming feeling of shutting down taking over; after hours of struggling once again. Like he does almost every day, for weeks now.
His thoughts go drifting, become dull, lose shape.
He thinks of her and their baby, feels his heart speed up at the thought of all those plans. They will come to fruition. Soon. He can feel it down in his stomach. Last night was great. He had fun, he felt good. The show came together now and he started to feel excited again.
Feeling weightless, like floating, he sighs and exhales.
Without sound, without air.
Eyes wide open he looks around, knows that he’s too far away.
He knows this state.
Has been here before.
Not that far. Not like this.
He tries to come back down like the last time, just turn around and slip back on solid ground, but this time he can’t reach.
It’s too much space, too much light.
He feels panic in his chest; knows that something is wrong.
And yet, this feels so incredibly good!
It’s so beautiful and bright.
So serene and soothing.
Without pressure, without pain.
All the malicious attacks, all the lies and accusations, all his burdens and sorrows left far behind. He finds them smashed and scattered all over the floor.
Down there, where there is chaos going on.

Kicking and struggling.
Trying to reach through the ethereal cloak of light when he sees his babies crying.
Those gifts of god, his treasured saviors.
“Lord, please forgive me, let me go back home! Please, let me go back to my children!” he prays and cries.
How could he do this to his loved ones?
“Prince! Paris!” he screams.
Colors fading into bright white light.
There is someone calling. Waving. Smiling. Waiting with arms wide open on the other side.
“Lord, I need to be with my children!”
His soul about to be torn into a million unfixable pieces.
But before the pain gets too much there’s music in his ears, soothing him so perfectly. And those arms around him carry him gently, love him softly, ease all his pain.
Looking back.
One last time.
He wishes them well.
Catches a glimpse of his physical body, a burnt-out shell of someone he once used to know.
Opening his arms wide he reaches for the sky, tilts his face and bathes in music and light.
It’s here on those holy grounds where he walks free again.
Where pirouettes and spins come off so easily.
Where his soul is cleansed from all the burdens life threw upon him.
Where he’s wrapped in pure love, freed from flaws and damages, he is welcomed back home.

Los Angeles, June 25th 2009, late evening

Not knowing how she made it here. What time it is or how many hours have gone by. Unaware of those people around her, the voices, the sobs, the screams and the crying. Only hearing the frightening silence after all.
She’s freezing cold, or maybe boiling hot. Can’t feel her numb body, only the pounding pain of her heart. Through a haze of stinging tears she sees the children, his mother, brothers, sisters, people going in and out of the room on the other side of the hallway. She can’t remember their names. Doesn’t know her own, doesn’t know who she is and what she’s doing in here. She has lost sight of her daughter, of Gerry and Maria, has lost track of everything that was her life before.
After hours someone asks her if she wants to leave with them, take the kids home to Hayvenhurst. She doesn’t know his face, hears his words but doesn’t understand what he’s saying. She just shakes her head no, drops her eyes and watches her fingers, touches the golden band and flinches, as if it is hot and poisoned and hurts her even more.

Not knowing how her feet carry her or why she is still functioning at all she enters this room, feels a cool breeze when the door falls shut behind her and makes her jump. There is that smell in there that makes her stomach sick. There is that blue neon light shining from the ceiling, a light that tints the room into a pale white shade, a color that is surreal, like everything about this day.
For minutes she stays unmoving. Frozen with her back against the cold door, pressing her shoulders hard against it, to feel anything, to stay grounded and keep her mind sane. She doesn’t dare to look at him, doesn’t dare to look in the direction of the stretcher. Sucks in air and fights against the lump in her throat, fights for air to breathe and the courage to live.

Like her he sits on the floor, knees pulled up to his face. Crying like her, sobbing like her, reaching his hand out but cannot touch her. He tries harder, but the distance of dimensions is too far. He calls her name, but his voice remains unheard, echoes in the room and hurts his ears.

She never wanted to feel his skin so cold. She never wanted to see him sleep so deep. She never wanted to see him like this. Empty. Lifeless. His pure heart silent. His angelic voice mute. The light in his eyes gone out. The passion of his soul faded.
She never thought he would leave her behind. Like this. Without saying goodbye. Without holding her hand, squeezing her for one last time.

He watches her staring across the room, at the gurney that carries his physical body. Watches her getting up, approaching him slowly, hide her quivering lips behind her hands when she finally dares to see him for the last time. He feels her pain, sees how her heart breaks, how it tears into pieces and starts to bleed. He feels her body trembling in shock, knows she is fighting so hard to keep her sanity.

Tears falling silently onto the white gown, soaking the fabric upon his unmoving chest. Lips quivering, hands trembling. Sucking in air as her fingertips touch his. Terrifying sobs escaping her lips when her fingers crawl into his cold hand and he doesn’t respond. Calling his name desperately, she touches his face, his hair. Collapses and wraps him in a tight embrace. Buries her face into the crook of his neck and cries and cries and cries. Cradling him slowly, holding on to his dead body for dear life.

“I love you so much, Angel.” he says, over and over again.
Sits right next to her and wishes he could reach out and hold her. But he can’t. He wants to wipe her tears and kiss her one last time but he can’t. Like he can’t change what happened. Like he can’t rewind time and make things undone. He is finally free and yet he lost everything. Gained peace and yet has to witness how a million lives have been torn to pieces.

“I can’t live without you, Baby! Don’t leave me, Michael!” she begs; screaming, choking, hardly breathing, running out of air. Sinks down on a chair next to the gurney with no strength left.

“I’m here, Angel.” he whispers into her ear and at the soft whiff of his words she flinches a bit, raises her head and looks around the room. Hopes to see him walking through that door, smiling, joking, laughing his head off cos he pranked her so bad once again.
But the room remains dead silent, empty and cold.

Los Angeles, June 26th 2009

That night there is chaos all over the house. No one strong enough to control the situation.
Two babies desperately crying, calling for daddy and mommy at the same time.
Two children crying silently, falling apart with every minute that is cruelly ticking away. Separating them more. Extinguishing him further.
A mother is crying and wailing, whimpering and choking on her tears, rocking herself from side to side with that picture of her son in her shaking hands.
There’s Grace trying to keep it all together, cradling the kids, kissing heads, squeezing hands, while tears are silently falling from her face.
This is like war. Like a bloodstained battlefield. Smoke still rising from the guns.
This is like Jericho. Where there is nothing left but despair, pain and tears. No sense and no hope at all. And in the middle of this unfamiliar place she is holding her head, pressing her fists against her temples, pulls her hair and crashes her knees when she falls to the floor. Crouching together to protect herself from more pain. But it’s too late. It already happened. No protection, no comfort, no home, no love. No more!
She can’t help but throw up. Again and again and again. The bitter acid burning her throat, choking her to the point where there’s no air in her lungs anymore. Until her body starts to spasm and someone gathers her from the bathroom floor, holds her and strokes her back. Combs back her hair and whispers softly to her.
Through hazy shades of tears she recognizes a woman. Wraps her arms desperately around her neck and falls apart in her arms.
“Grace, I lost my life…” she sobs and holds on to her friend for dear life.

Los Angeles, June 30th 2009
She’s been crying in the arms of a mother who has lost her baby. Has been falling apart in the embrace of siblings who lost their brother. Has been cradling children to sleep who are her life and yet feel like strangers at the same time. She has no one who can soothe her, who will dry her tears and comfort her pain. There is no one in her life anymore to hold her.
The love of her life gone. Vanished. Faded away forever

Los Angeles, June 30th 2009

She’s been crying in the arms of a mother who has lost her baby. Has been falling apart in the embrace of siblings who lost their brother. Has been cradling children to sleep who are her life and yet feel like strangers at the same time. She has no one who can soothe her, who will dry her tears and comfort her pain. There is no one in her life anymore to hold her.
The love of her life gone. Vanished. Faded away forever

South Africa, Early October 2009

She never heard him flatline. She never saw his heart go into arrest or a green line on a monitor proving her eyes he was gone. And yet that nasty sound, that devastating picture haunts her. Settled in the back of her brain to come back out and shake her to the ground every time her mind is still.
She jolts out of her dreams; the cruel monotonous sound loud in her ears, her body trembling, quivering like a quake shaking the earth.
Getting up out of bed, she starts to cry. Again.
Feels her heart breaking. Again.
Tearing into a million pieces and starting to bleed. Again.
She stammers his name, over and over again.
As if he can hear her. And somehow he always does. Stings her chest to let her know he’s around.
She roams through the backpack, touches something hard and cold in there; flinches as if something bit her fingers and pulls back her hand for a while.
Looking inside again she finds one of his sweaters, the one he wore the last time. The one she retrieved from the hamper the day her world came crashing down. She buries her face in the fabric, inhales his scent that is still lingering inside and quickly puts it on. Closes her eyes and feels the tears slowly subside. Being close to him makes her feel safe. Like he wraps her into one of his loving bear hugs and cradles her slowly.
Feeling brave enough she looks back into the bag, stares inside, onto the black container that is hidden inside. Dares to rest her hand on top and just tune into him for a while.
“Soon.” she whispers with a smile gracing her face.
And though she still feels like crying, though her body feels weak and nauseous, she knows it’s a new day, a new morning, a new chance at life.