Saying Goodbye

Pen Name: Jackie B

Rating: PG, for some of the descriptions

Summary: Lee visits the grave of someone he loved.

Time Frame: Set approximately 18 years after the show ended.

Disclaimer and other stuff: These characters belong to Shoot the Moon Productions and Warner Brothers, and I will return them safe and sound when I'm done. In my world, Lee and Amanda's first child was born about a year after their wedding. I want to thank my beta reader, Debby. It was a lot of help! This is my first SMK fanfic, so feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Small warning, though: it might require at least one tissue! Enjoy.

Hello, sweetheart. I’ve brought you some flowers. A spray of roses, your favorite. Dr. Pain even managed to bring a beautiful, soft pink one from the White House rose garden. He told me to say he misses you. We all do, so much. Even after a year, it still aches. Every day I expect you to come around the corner and ramble on about your day, but you never do. And the hurt hits again.

It’s a pretty day. The sky has just a few clouds, and the birds are singing. Everything’s blooming. It almost seems more a park than a cemetery. You know, I come here a lot to think, and talk to you. At first, I couldn’t bring myself here, but now…it helps to just sit here near you, almost like you can hear me best in this place.

Emily and Francine come by once in a while. They miss you, especially Francine. In spite of the differences in your attitudes, you two became very close. Billy told me he came by the other day. You know you always had a special place in his heart, and even after he stepped down as Section Chief, he always sent you cards to see how you were.

I wanted to talk about that day. The day you died. I come here and talk about everything to you except that. But it’s been a year, and I think I’m ready. It was warm that day, like today, remember? We were walking across the park, for a picnic. You were laughing, smiling that incredible smile.

I remember thinking life was good. Career, family, friends, all on track. Perfect weather, in comfortable jeans instead of a suit and tie, a park that wasn’t crowded. I smiled at you, and your eyes twinkled. I thought, “Stetson, you are one lucky man.” God, it only took an instant for my whole world to collapse.

You saw him before anyone. You always were alert to the little things. Witnesses said later that he’d been hunched over and his eyes were darting nervously, but no one wanted to say anything. We had gathered evidence for a case against him, and because of that, he went to jail. He’d just gotten out after serving two years.

He pulled out a gun, moving before anyone could react. Anyone but you. You recognized him, saw that he had a target in mind who wasn’t looking at him. You were closer, I was too far. You moved, pushed the target out of the way. I heard the shots, saw you jerk as they hit, saw you fall.

They say that in a moment of total terror, you can also have a moment of total clarity. I did. I turned to the shooter, saw him as clearly as if he had a target painted on him. I don’t know when I pulled out my gun, it was just there, and I shot. Time stood still. Then he fell, and it all rushed forward.

I dropped the gun, rushed over to you. You were so still, so small huddled on the ground. I dropped to my knees, I was afraid to touch you; afraid I would make it worse. But I picked you up, held you in my arms, felt your blood running over my hands. You felt so boneless, your soft dark curls spilling over my arm, those beautiful liquid eyes unable to focus, rolling.

I yelled for someone to call 911, and whispered frantically to you, telling you to hold on, to fight, just hold on. You were a fighter, you’d always been a fighter, and you wouldn’t dare to stop fighting. You could make it; you’d never let anything beat you. You looked at me, smiled just a bit, and formed the words “I love you.” You had no breath to speak, and then you fell unconscious. I was still whispering when the ambulance came and took you.

At the hospital, they made me wait while they took you to surgery. I sat there, in shock. I looked down at myself. My hands, my shirt, covered with your blood. So much blood. I couldn’t believe it. Just a little while ago, you’d been laughing, joking, enjoying the fresh air, and now…

Later, I don’t know when, the surgeon came out. His face was so sad. I felt the panic rising in my gut. No, no, no, “I’m sorry, she lost too much blood, there was so much damage, we tried everything,” no, dear God, no, “we couldn’t save her, I’m so sorry,” NO! Shaking my head even as the tears rained down my cheeks, Billy gripping my arm warmly, comfortingly. The doctor took me to you.

At your funeral, I looked at you. You just looked like you were sleeping, except for the awful stillness. The room was filled with flowers in bright colors, except for fragrant white and peach roses all around you. At the cemetery, after they lowered you into the ground, the numbness wore off and it hit me. I dropped to the ground. I realized, then, that there would be no more laughter or jokes, no rambling explanations or little tosses of the head and shoulders, no more hearing you say “Oh my gosh!” You would never again repeat my questions when you were trying to avoid them, and I wouldn’t hear you recite your mother’s words of “A good breakfast.” I would not feel you hug me, or hear you say that you loved me.

The tears coursed down my face then, hot and painful, but somehow cleansing. I was crying for you like I’d wanted to, needed to, for the past few days. More tears would come later, but these allowed me to start to heal.

So, it’s been a year. It’s been difficult, at times. Most of the time. But we’ve all gone on, because you would want us to.

Did you know that you saved a life that day? The shooter’s target received only a flesh wound, a graze that healed rapidly. And, honey, I’m more grateful to you for that than I could ever say.

She’s coming towards us across the grass; can you sense her? She stops, sits down by us. She gently traces your name on the marker, then looks over at me and smiles through the tears that fill her eyes. God, that smile, it’s your smile; I can see you every time that she smiles. “Hi,” she says softly. “Hi,” I reply, just as softly. We sit for a minute, just absorbing the beauty of the day.

“Where are my other kids?” I ask. She smiles, gestures to the car. “They thought you’d want a little time alone with her.” I look over and see Jamie, home for a visit, looking at us from the car, holding Dorothy Jean and Michael. They wave. The twins are very protective of each other these days. And DJ, well, she looks like you more every day.

I look back at your marker. How can I say thank you? How can I express my gratitude for your sacrifice? Losing you was hard enough, but to have lost her…I don’t know what I would’ve done. She’s been my rock, even though she lost you, too, and says if she’d been paying attention, you might have lived. She picked out the song we played at your funeral, an older Sarah McLachlan one. I thought of the last lines before I came here.

         “Don’t let your life pass you by,
          Weep not for the memories.”

I realize that you would want us to go on, to remember the good times, not to cry. So we do, because we know you'd want it, even though it's so hard.

She sits next to me, places a small recorder in my hand. “I brought this song, I thought you’d want to play it for her.” A single tear slips down her cheek. She traces your name again. “She always loved it.”

She says, “I’ll leave you alone with her,” and starts to get up.

I grab her hand, pull her down next to me. “She wasn’t just my miracle, she was ours,” I say, staring deep into those beautiful brown eyes I’ve loved ever since that long-ago day when a secret agent handed a housewife a package for a man in a red hat. “Amanda, she would want us both here.”

I pull her slender body close. Amanda, my Amanda, my love, my wife, the mother of my children. Did you know you saved your mother’s life? Thank you, sweetheart.

I push the button. “There are two things I know for sure/ She was sent here from Heaven, and she’s Daddy’s little girl…” You were, you were our angel, my special baby girl. Jennifer Rose Stetson, my first-born child. You reminded me so much of Amanda; maybe that’s why you were my girl. I repeat your mother’s gesture, tracing your name, tears sliding down both our faces. You always said it was our song, so perfect in describing us.

I hear the words of the song, and wish for what could have been. You did look like your mother, so much, but time will never pass for you. I will never see you getting ready to be married, never see you in a white dress, never give you away. I will never see your children, never see you look at them the way Amanda looked at you.

I hear the last few words. “I know I’ve gotta let her go/ But I’ll always remember/ Every hug in the morning/ And butterfly kisses.” I suddenly feel you all around me.

Amanda suddenly jerks her head up. She can feel you, too. “Oh my gosh, Lee, she’s here.” I nod.

I understand, sweetheart. You’re here to say goodbye. Today was about talking to you, sharing with you my feelings; being able to, finally, let you go. I will always remember you, my sweet baby girl, I will always remember your hugs, your kisses, your smiles, your beautiful hazel eyes, your “I love you” every day. You will always be my daughter, always be in my heart.

But I think I can go on. I can go on with my Amanda, with your brothers and sister, with my friends and career, just like you would want. I can go on without you. I will still miss you terribly, we all will, and I can’t promise no more tears, but I can promise I will heal. I know your mother feels the same way.

I stop the recorder, stand up and pull Amanda up with me. Arms around each other, we look down at your grave.

“Goodbye, angel,” she whispers.

Goodbye, my Jenny girl. I suddenly feel a lightness, a warmth, and I know you are saying you love us and will watch out for us, our very own guardian angel.

We start to walk away. I hear a bird sing in the distance. I love you, sweetheart. I can say goodbye for now, but I will love you forever and always.

I love you, too, Daddy, Mom. Goodbye.