To Start Again
Written by Amy E
What might've happened if Charlie had died
"Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust." Reverend Gregory repeated those
age old words
as he spread Charlie's ashes over the graves of Nicholas & Diana
Everyone slowly walked away from the gravesite after going over
to hug offer
their condolences to the remaining family.
Slowly, Claudia came awake from a troubled sleep. Remembering
buried her head under her comforter to keep the sun from
awakening her fully.
'I don't want to wake up, not yet.' She told herself. She
couldn't face the
world yet. 'Maybe,' she thought, 'with everyone coming in and
out of the
house they'll forget about me and I can just stay up in my
Claudia tried to ignore it, maybe they'd think she was asleep
and not bother
Knock, knock . . . and again.
"Claudia" whispered Bailey as he opened her door poked in his
head. "Are you
awake? It's almost 10:00." Claudia didn't move in her cocoon.
quietly closed the door and walked back downstairs to the
kitchen. Julia &
Griffin were sitting talking to Kirsten & Joe & Frannie. None
of them had
slept last night. Paul had finally had to leave to get ready to
hospital at 6.
"Claud's still not up." Bailey remarked. "Let her sleep." Said
least someone other than Owen's getting some sleep around here."
think she sleeping, I think she's hiding." He replied. "I
Kirsten. "We had a talk several months ago, about how she would
if Charlie, you know, did die. But I admit, our talk wasn't
I mean, I really don't know how to help her."
Slam. Owen came running in from the back door. "I got an ant
see?!" He opened his cupped hands and there was dirt and weeds
and a few ants
crawling around. Julia jumped off her stool "Owen - don't bring
that dirt in
here! Now I'll have to clean you up!" Griffin got up. "Here,
let me. 'Come
on bud" as he takes hold of Owen's wrist "let's go put the ants
they get hurt and then we'll wash you up."
"Are they going to be okay, really?" asks Frannie once she & Joe
got back to
their hotel. She didn't say anything in the car because she
didn't want to
distract Joe while he was driving. Besides, she knew he was
alot also. This brought bad memories back for him. Of Nick &
"They've dealt with death before. This time they had the time
to go through
the grieving process." He paused. "You know, I don't know
better . . . knowing ahead of time that someone you care about is
going to die,
like Charlie - or sudden, with no time to prepare, like Nick &
"Those kids are strong, I don't know if I could've done as well
the tragedies they've had to deal with in their young lives."
"They've had to be with all they've been through." Responded
Joe. He put his
arms around Frannie facing her. "Bailey's been
ultra-responsible since their
parents died - so this is nothing new to him. Julia's matured a
last few months. I don't know how this is going to affect her &
marriage, but she seems more serene." He paused. "I think they
can do this.
Kirsten said she would help out for awhile, and Paul seems okay
with that. Do
you mind if we stay through the guardianship hearing in two
days, and then
we'll go home? The sooner they start putting their lives back
better." "Let's ask them first." Suggested Frannie. "I can't
leaving them without knowing that they are okay."
Joe gave her a tender kiss. "You know, I really do love you."
A lot of friends had called the day after Charlie's funeral
asking to if they
wanted company for dinner, but they needed some time alone.
finally comes downstairs for dinner. She didn't want to deal
right now, but she could face her family. She walks into the
everyone is seated at the butcher table. Julia's warming
leftovers in the
microwave, Griffin is setting the table while Owen is playing
with his silverware.
"How're you feeling?" Julia asks Claudia. "Okay, I just needed
to be alone
for awhile." Claudia responded. "Yeah, it's been pretty crowded
the last few days, huh? I don't' know where these days have
Julia. "Feel up to eating something?" Claudia shrugs her
shoulders. They eat
in silence, not looking at each other, but lost in their own
Julia sighs as she realizes everything that Charlie had to give
up to raise
them. Tears drop from her eyes as she realizes that he never
really had a
life to live for himself after their parents died. Griffin,
seeing her tear
up grasps her hand and gives it a squeeze, but says nothing.
The next day the Visiting Nurse Association and San Bernadino
representatives come by. They had made arrangements to pick up
bed and the rest of the medical supplies that Charlie never
used. "We also
wanted to see how you were coping" said one volunteer to
Claudia. "Why? I'm
tired of people always asking how I am, if I'm keeping myself
busy. I don't
want to. My life has been horribly sad, so I should be sad
right along with
"Part of our services is offering counseling to the terminally
ill and their
loved ones. We noticed that no one in the family ever had
counseling to deal
with your brother's impending death." Said the hospice
countered Claudia. "We've dealt with death before, you know.
were killed in an accident."
"Did you ever have counseling for that? Please, think about it.
You have our
number; we have professionals at your disposal if you wish to
talk to someone.
Let your family know, okay?" Claudia nodded her head as she
left the dining
room as they continued to pack up.
On Tuesday, Julia & Griffin got dressed up to go to court.
Claudia wasn't due
back at school until the following week so she stayed home to
They met with Emmett, their attorney, and Mrs. Gladstone, the
social worker at
the Children's Services office prior to going over to the court
"Everything is really all in order, I just wanted us to meet
ahead of time to
catch our breaths and to tell both of you not to worry." Said
"This is just a formality and it won't take long." "What will
Julia. The judge will be presented with the guardian transfer
forms prior to
the session opening so that he can briefly acquaint himself with
on. Then he'll just ask you to confirm or deny your acceptance
as legal and
financial guardians of Owen & Claudia. You'll be asked to
formally sign the
guardianship agreement which reiterates areas of responsibility
and that you
appeared before said judge and were not under any due influence.
ask if there are any objections to your being named as
guardian." "Who might
object?" she asks. "Well, formally, this would be the point for
the county to
step up and state why they feel you shouldn't be awarded
custody, also if your
brother wanted to take custody he could state so at this point,
or any other
relatives." Replies Mrs. Gladstone.
"And Emmett has to be here because . . . ?" "I'm here for your, and
Owen's, protection Julia. In the event anything undue comes
"Okay, I think we're ready." Julia takes a deep breath, grabs
and follows them to the courthouse.
Everything proceeded smoothly and was over in 10 minutes. "That
was real nice
of Joe & Frannie to show up and show their support." Says Julia.
bad your brother couldn't of shown up. Didn't he know the
hearing was today?"
Replied Griffin. "I think so, but he probably took it for
everything would proceed okay, and it did. After all, he does
restaurant and everything."
Julia dropped Griffin off at work with a warm kiss and a thank
standing with her and supporting her. They hold hands as they
"Hey no problem. Like you reminded me at our wedding, we're
happens to one of us, happens to both of us." "You're so
sweet," she replied.
When Julia gets back home, Claudia mentions that she'd like to
have dinner at
the restaurant that night. "Are you sure Claud?" asks Julia.
"I mean, won't
it be too much for you right now?" "No, I need to feel their
that's the one place I can feel both Dad and Charlie." Julia
calls up Bailey
at the restaurant. He's preparing for the lunch crowd. "What's
up?" he asks.
"Can we have a family dinner at the restaurant tonight? You
know, like we
used to so long ago." "Sure, but we've been having family
dinners at the
house for the last month, aren't you tired of them." "But it's
not the same."
Julia responds. "I think we need to have a nice family dinner
away from the
house. Away from all the bad stuff." "Yeah, well it's pretty
too." Bailey replies. "I mean, everyone's afraid to bring their
me, like I'm going to bite their heads off or break into tears
"I think it would be good for the staff to see that we're okay.
was Claudia's idea and I think we should do whatever we can to
help her. She
feels she needs to have Charlie close and while the house
cancer, the restaurant not only represents Charlie when he was
in good health,
but also Dad. And you know how close she was to Dad."
After they made arrangements, Julia hung up the phone and turned
look for Owen , calling for him. She looked under the beds, in
in the closets, behind the dressers, in the toy box. "Owen!
Where are you?!"
Julia climbed up to the attic loft. There on a ratty-old couch
asleep; wrapped in a wool blanket that used to lay on Charlie's
bed before his
skin became so raw that he couldn't use it. As she picked him
his arm slipped down. He was holding something. Julia took him
downstairs and put him into his bed. 'He's tired; we tend to
forget that's he
been through a lot these last few weeks, too.' She thought. As
she tucked the
blanket in around him, she noticed what Owen was holding. It
was one of
Charlie's flannel shirts.
Claudia jumps right in and mentions that the hospice workers
told her that
professional counseling was one of the services they offered.
"I don't think
we need it Claud." Said Julia. "Well, me neither, but I thought
it in case anyone was interested." Julia doesn't want to think
counseling. Like it's something bad; her only try at counseling
Griffin earlier in the year and it was horrible. There was no
way she wanted
to go through anything like that again.
"It's been one week since Charlie's death. I think we should
up his stuff." Said Julia as everyone sat around at dinner.
"Great. Just get
rid of him now too." Replied Claudia sarcastically. "Remember
how you felt
when Kirsten moved in and started moving around some of Mom's
that the same? I'm not ready to let
him go yet."
"I'm not talking about letting him go Claud. We could keep some
woodworking stuff around. Owen might be interested in it
someday, and I know
Griffin uses some of it, right?" said Julia as she turned to
hmm" he replied, his mouth full. "Anyway, I was thinking more
along the lines
of all his clothes. I think it would be a nice gesture to offer
Paul some of
them. He's about the same size as Charlie."
Bailey chuckled. "Can you see Paul in Charlie's clothes? I
don't think so."
Griffin came up with an idea. "Hey, why don't we give them to
shelter? They could always use men's clothes and that was
Charlie was involved in." "You know," said Claudia, tapping her
chin with her
finger, "that's not a bad idea. Maybe I can take them down. I
do have my
license now. Maybe I could talk to some of the guys Charlie
Julia frowned "I don't know Claud. I don't like the idea of you
there." "Why? I'm not some little kid, you know. If you're
worried that it
might be a little rough down there, I can take someone with me.
"Claudia, No! If anyone's going down to the homeless shelter,
Griffin or Bailey. I just don't want to take any chances."
you're not going to smother me." Claudia slammed down her water,
some of it
sloshing out of the glass.
They all start to argue. Claudia didn't like the way Julia
suggestions, Bailey didn't like the idea of Julia volunteering
him for things,
Griffin couldn't understand why Bailey didn't show up at court
Owen watched all this arguing and kept his mouth shut until he
it anymore. "Stop it! You all need timeout!" He gets out of
his seat and
runs past the waiters into the back storeroom.
Griffin goes to get him while the rest sit back quietly.
Everyone hangs their
heads. "You know, Claudia's right." Bailey says as he raises
"about the counseling."
Griffin brings back Owen. Julia stoops down to talk with him
"Hey bud. You
okay now? We're really sorry we acted like that." "You were
being mean to
each other." He sniffed. "Yeah, but you know what? You made us
listen; if it
weren't for you we would've made a fool of ourselves in front of
people." She gives him a hug and they sit down and finish their
Sherrell, the hostess, looks over at their table and she knows
that they'll be
okay. It's going to be a long road ahead, but they've traveled