Like I Would


I was lucky – a couple of ladies came over and helped me clean out the fridge, before dropping off a casserole for me and giving me their condolences about dad. The only nice part about a small town was the fact that there were so many people willing to help, and so many that knew what was going on. It didn’t, however, make the knowledge that I’d have to clean out the house any easier. Go through his things, that would make it seem so final that he was gone. It was too much, and so instead I found myself curled in his blanket on the couch watching our old home movies.

“Hello? Anybody home?” I jumped up, the voice spooking me and waking me from the slumber I’d fallen into. I quickly got up and adjusted my clothes before answering the door.

“Hello?” my stomach nearly churned when I saw Mrs. Staal at the door. I hadn’t seen her since high school, and while I’d missed the incredible woman the immediate fear of her bringing her son was very present.

“Carly,” my name came out a rushed whisper before she pulled me into her arms, and the tears began streaming down my face.

“I just… can’t… believe…” she nodded, softly stroking my hair as she got me sitting on the couch.

“None of us can believe it either. When Jared and Nat told us… it was a shock. Then all I could think about was you having to be here all by yourself – no one should have to do that sweetheart,” just as she always had, Linda effortlessly stepped into the role of mother for me. My mom had passed away just after I was born, so I’d grown up completely void of having someone in that role, until Marc and I became friends and Linda all but adopted me into the family.

“Thank you so much Linda,”

“You know it’s not a problem Carly. You’re family, and there’s no way we’d let you go through this alone,” she insisted, holding me at arm’s length for a second.

“I’ll make some tea, okay? Why don’t you find something on TV; we’ve got some catching up to do anyway,” I merely nodded as Linda got up and made herself at home in the small kitchen, bustling around and humming lightly to herself. She was a huge comfort just being here, and I managed to flick through the channels until I found some daytime talk show that helped fill the silence of the house.

“I don’t know what to say Linda, I mean, you’ve always done so much for me, and I haven’t even seen or talked to you guys in so long…”

A gentle hand on my arm stopped my train of thought, and I was met with a soft smile.

“Sometimes we get a little off-track and busy. But that’s the great part about family – no matter how long we’re gone or apart, we’re still always there,”

We sat and talked for over an hour, covering the boring, the exciting, and every detail in between that we could manage. It was so good to catch up, to even just talk to someone who understood that talking about everything else but the matter at hand was important. And Linda did just that, keeping my mind busy and entertained with stories about her life and Thunder Bay since I’d been gone.

“I’m so sorry I missed so much… sometimes it just felt easier bringing Dad out to wherever I was and being caught up in my little world than trying to come back and deal with everything,” I shrugged, too embarrassed to look up from my cup. Linda merely shook her head and hugged me.

“I get it. Some days I wish I could just run away and not come back too,” she chuckled, somehow getting me to join in effortlessly. “But for me, everything is here. For you, your dad was everything; it was just as easy if not easier to bring him into your world. And think of all the things he was able to do because of that; things some people only dream of. He used to brag you up all the time, you know. Henry sometimes goes into town for coffee and he said anytime your dad was there and somebody happened to ask what you were up to he lit right up. Couldn’t stop talking about how proud he was that you’d found something you loved and that you were doing so well. I’m sure half the men in here didn’t know what the hell he was talking about; catwalks and go-sees and designer label names. He learned it all, followed everything that you did, and believe me, you made him so, so proud my girl,”

Linda’s touching words had me in tears again. I knew dad had been super excited about me going to college – something he and my mom never had a chance to do. And when I’d dropped out he was disappointed. I knew he’d been surprised by where I’d ended up with the modeling stuff, but I hadn’t had a clue about this.

“I… I never knew. I mean, he always said he was proud of what I’d accomplished, but I always thought that deep down he was still disappointed that I’d dropped out of school,”

“Maybe he was at first – all parents want what they perceive as what’s best for their kids. But when he saw that doing this, what you love, you’re passionate about, and successful at, he knew this was what was best for you. And he embraced it just the same as you did,” all I could do was hug her, the emotion too overwhelming to bring forth any words.

It was only about ten or fifteen minutes later when we realized just how late it had become. Linda was surprised, and I knew she probably had a whole clan to feed at home.

“Thank you again for stopping by, Linda. We should, um, get together again sometime soon,” I felt awkward making the proposition, but seeing the smile on her face was a relief.

“Of course we will. And I’m glad you’re doing okay; Marc’s worried sick about you – so are Jordan, Jared and Eric. They were wondering about coming by to see you sometime. And please, please let us know if you ever need any help, okay?” as if I’d never left without so much as a goodbye Linda was making me part of her family again, something that made the pain in my chest ache a little more.

“Okay,” I nodded, waving when she was in her truck and I was watching her drive off. What if I’d been selfish and agreed to go to New York with Marc, would I have had this all along?
♠ ♠ ♠
Here's another one! Again, I'm trying to get myself back into more regular posting schedule again, but I do apologize for not being there quite yet!

Let me know what you think!