When Charlie Dies

Written by Tressa

Claudia walked down the Walt Whitman Highschool. It was three months into the school year and she longed for Reed. Reed went off to college just last year. She made only a few friends, and everything at home was just as awful as things were at school. Charlie was getting worse with his cancer, Julia was off at Stanford, and got divorced to Griffin, and Bailey left to go live with Sarah in an apartment. She saw everyone one a lot, but she longed for attention. No one seemed to care where she was now adays. The final bell rang and she decided to take the City Bus to Golden Gate Park maybe a stroll in the park would make her feel better.

When she came to the park she walked around and thought about what was going on. The fresh air made her feel special. She hadn't been outside in forever, since all that was going on with Charlie she just had no time for herself. She came home around six, knowing most likely that her family wouldn't care that she were gone.

"Claudia! Where have you been!?" Bailey yelled as she entered the front door.

"I was just walking!" I yelled back.

"Ya, well you forgot about something?" Bailey said.

"What?" I looked back at him..what could I have forgotten?

"It's your night to watch Owen and now because of you I am late for my meeting with a very big group that wants their party at the restaurant, what are they going to think now that I am late?" He sounded angry.

"Sorry, Bailey.It was just a mistake." I told him.

"Well don't let it happen again." He said in an angry tone and ran out of the house. I just sighed. Whenever they talk to me they always are mad at me. I went into the kitchen and there sitting was Owen at the table. Charlie must have been at a radiation treatment and I guess Griffin went with him.

"Claudia!" He ran to me. Finally someone that is happy to see me.

"Hey O." I said to him.

"Claudia, why is Charlie sick?" He asked.

"Wow, Owen. I don't know what okay..Well Charlie is sick because that is waht happens to some people they become ill. We don't know why." I said sympathetically. He shook his head.

"Is he going to die?" Owen asked.

I was shocked. Owen had grown up a lot in the past few days. He was getting smarter and smarter before I knew it. "Owen. We don't know." I just told him, we had never talked about what would happen if Charlie did die. I didn't even want to think about that.

Me and Owen talked some more and then Charlie and Griffin came home. Charlie obviously looked exhausted, he was crying, bad too..Something bad must have happened. "Charlie?" I asked. I was worried.

"Not now Claudia." He just snapped at me.

"Charlie, why are you..what's wrong?" I asked again. I wasn't gonna let him get away with out telling me.

"Claudia. When Bailey and Julia and everyone come over tomorrow then we can talk about it." He said. "Right now I just want to go to bed."


"Enough Claudia." That was all he said and then he went to bed. A while later so did I.

The next morning I woke up late, I was exhausted from the day before. It was almost 12 though when I went downstairs. Kerstin was there waiting for me.

"Morning Sunshine, you slept in late." Kerstin was the one who was always there for me, she knew that my siblings were not really paying attention to me. She was kinda like a mother to me, after all I did grow up with her, I gave up on Julia long after she wouldn't let me share a room with her.

"So, what's the talk that Charlie wants to have with everyone?" I asked her.

"I am not sure, he just wanted everyone to come over at 12:30,but I came early. I guess everyone should be here soon." Kerstin told me.

"Really? It must be important." I responded. I was worried whenever the whole family came together that meant something was up, something that wasn't good. I decided to go upstairs and get ready before everyone came.

At 12:30 I went into the living room and there everyone was, Sarah,Bailey, Julia, Kerstin,Julia and Paul. Why was Paul here? And, if Owen wasn't here, then something had to be up, something bad.

"Hey Claudia, there you are." Charlie said. "Why don't you sit down."

He said in a scarce tone. Wow, he sure had changed since last night.

"What's going on Charlie?" Julia said as I sat down next to her.

"Well, Griffin..he already knows. When I came home from the radiation treatment I just couldn't tell anybody." He started to cry.

"Tell anybody what Charlie?" Bailey asked. I could tell that he was beginning to worry, and so was I.

"Charlie?" Kerstin asked. "What..what happened Charlie?" She asked again. He was crying more than I had ever seen him cry. As I looked around the room I could see that everyone was tense.

"You guys..Om, the doctor..The doctor gave me a month, he gave me a month." Charlie cried. I looked at him, I knew what he meant he had a month to live. A month and Charlie would be gone, Charlie would be dead.

I looked up at Charlie in aw. How could he be this sick? Just two weeks ago the doctor said that he was doing great, and now his doctor is saying that he only has a month to live? Julia got up to give Charlie a hug. "Charlie, you know doctor's can be wrong, they can be wrong you know that..right Charlie? You know that?" Her voice cracked she was so overcome with emotion. I was now too, crying. Practically everyone in the room except Paul. I really didn't like Paul. Something about him, he also had a cold face. Why was he here anyways, it's not like he is apart of this family? All of us went up together to give Charlie a hug. It were times like these that we would look back on and wish we could do more of. Memories were so important, just being together is the main thing. We all went to go go sit back down. I looked up at Charlie, I cried so much my eyes were red and swollen like. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. In the last five years my parents died, Julia got pregnant, Charlie lost Kerstin and ruined the marriage and Bailey had his alcholism. Now, Charlie was going to die. It wasn't fair. Why do I have to go through this. I am only 15. Before I could say anything Kerstin interupted me.

"Charlie, what about Claudia and Owen. Who is going to be their gaurdian, who is going to live with them?" I could tell that Kerstin was worried, very worried.

"Well, they would live with us. Charlie right? Claudia and Owen they would live with us." Julia sounded paranoid. I knew that she didn't want to lose us.

"Ya, I mean Charlie you have to leave them to us..I don't even want to talk about this..But, I guess it's what we have to do." Bailey said. Charlie took his hand to his face and sighed and was starting to cry more. I could tell that he was becoming adgetated.

"Ya, I know we do have to talk about that. And, I am not sure Bai. I am nost sure what I want to do." Charlie told everyone.

"I mean you are at Stanford Julia, and Bailey you have the restaurant, you are so young." Charlie added.

"So, I will forget about Stanford. I don't have to go. Or, I could still go and Claudia could just watch Owen more. Don't give them to someone else Charlie." Julia was stern, she really didn't want us to leave. I was shocked, I didn't know that she would give up Stanford for me and Owen. He turned to Kerstin and Paul.

"Actually I was thinking maybe someone a little older could take care of them." Kerstin was just schocked by what he said, Paul gave her an upsetting look. I knew that he didn't want to take responsibility of us, and I didn't want that either.

Kerstin didn't know what to say. "We'll let you know Char." She said. She grabbed her coat gave Charlie a kiss on the cheek and they were out the door. I didn't know what to say, no one did. I just went upstairs and cried myself to sleep.

In the middle of the night I woke up and heard Julia, Bailey and Charlie talking.

I went up to the stairs to try to hear what they were saying.

"Charlie, how could you ask Kerstin to get guardianship of the kids?" Julia asked.

"Ya. I mean Charlie we are there family. Not Kerstin and Paul and besides we don't even know Paul." Bailey said.

"Look, I just think that Claudia and Owen would be better off with them." Charlie defended himself back.

"How do you know what's best for them Charlie. I mean especially Claudia. Char, she is 15. She has a right to what she wants." Julia said.

"Jules, she is just a baby. She doesn't know what is right for her." Charlie said.

"Ya. Char, she is. Okay, but that's not what we are talking about. This is our family and if you give them away to Kerstin and Paul then that's man, that's messing up our family Charlie. I mean Mom and Dad wouldn't want that."

"Look, Bailey mom and dad aren't alive and I am dying. And, it's my choice." Charlie said. That made me mad, I mean I loved Kerstin, so much. But, I didn't want her to be my guardian. And, I know Owen didn't want that either. We wanted to stay with Bailey and Julia.

I came down and everyone was surprised to see me.

"Claudia, what are you doing up?" Bailey asked. "You she be asleep."

"No, I want to know what's going on down here, I heard everything. And, I am sick of it, you never include me in anything anymore. I mean don't I have a say about what I want. I mean last time I checked I was apart of this family too!" I started to cry.

"Can't you all just stop fighting. God, Charlie is dying! Is this how you want to remember him. Fighting all the time! Cause I know I sure as hell don't." I cried some more. I mean they didn't realize how important Charlie was. Especially since he was dying. We had to make the best of the rest of his life.

"Claudia, come on lets go back to bed. I will take you back up." Julia started to take my hand, but I backed away.

"No, No, No! Stop treating me like I don't know whats right for me. I am 15! I am not a baby anymore. Charlie I don't want to live with Kerstin, I want to live with Bailey and Julia. Okay. That is what I want. Please, Charlie. Don't let me go live with Kerstin and Paul. Please." I cried.

"Claudia, it's gonna be alright." Charlie said and I went to go hug him. "Right now all we are doing is trying to find out what is best for you and Owen." Charlie added.

"And, I know. I don't want to live with them. I don't." I was angry. Why couldn't Charlie understand that I didn't want to leave my house and live with Kerstin and Paul.

"Claudia, come on..It's late. Let's go back to bed." Julia said. I shook my head. She took my arm and we went back up to my room. I sat and my bed and so did Julia.

"Claudia. I know you are worried. I know you are. But, Charlie just wants the best for you guys, you know that right?" She asked.

"Yes, but I don't want to live with them Jules." I complained.

"Claudia, neither do me and Bai and I know Charlie doesn't want that either, he just wants you to be happy." She added.

"I know." I just looked at her. She looked back at me with a sympathetic look.

"Claudia, me and Bailey, we aren't going to lose you, we won't let that happen. I promise." Julia had tears coming to her eyes.

"Really?" I was happy that she wanted me to live with her.

"Ya, you are our baby sister, we can't lose you." She said. I smiled. I fell asleep after that. The next morning it was beatiful. The sun was shining and not a cloud in the sky. I just wish everything was going to be okay. I wish the whole cancer thing would just go away.

Bailey was downstairs making breakfast for everyone. "Hey Claudia. I made your favorite, pankakes." He smiled. I smiled back. I was glad that he did. I was really hungry. Everyone was downstairs, for once we were actually eating together, just the five of us.

We talked and before we knew it, everyone was on there way. I wanted to go for a walk at Golden Gate Park since it was such a beautiful day some time alone would make me feel better. I arrived at the park a few minutes later. I decided to sit on a bench and look out over the bay. The site was beautiful I could see Sausolito all the way from here, it was so pretty. I was thinking and then all of a sudden I got chills down my spine. Whenever something is wrong that always happens. I decided that I should go back to the house and see if everything was okay. It took forever or what seemed like forever to get home. I finally did arrive home and waiting there for me was Sarah in the kitchen she looked pale and sullen. "Sarah, why are you here? What's going on?" I asked nervously.

"Claud. It's Charlie." She said.

"What, what about Charlie?" I asked.

"Claudia he's in the hospital." She said sadly. She was crying. I could tell she was glad to get that off her chest. I just looked at her, shocked. What happened to the month that we had together. "Anyways, we have to go now. The doctors don't think..that he is going to...they think he is going to.." She couldn't say the word.

"Die?" I asked.

She shook her and head and ran over to give me a hug. "Let's go." I said and we got into her car and went off the the hospital. I ran inside running much faster than Sarah, I opened the hospital doors and saw everyone in the lobby waiting area, even Owen.

"Claudia! Thank god you came." Bailey ran over to me. "Are you okay?" He asked.

"Ya. Why wouldn't I be okay?" I asked.

"You were gone so long.I was worried."

"Mr. Salinger." The doctor said our last name.

"Ya, that's me." Bailey raised his hand. We all sat down and the doctor came to talk to us.

"Well, I thank you all for coming, unfotunately I wish I had better news for you. Unfortunately I don't." She said sympathetically. I knew what she was going to say. "I think that all of you should say your goodbyes. I am sorry to say that he most likely won't make it through the night."

I was so tired of doctors say that they coulnd't do anything. "What?! That's it! That is all that you can do. For gods sake you are doctor damnit! Can't you go and do something!" I cried. And, everyone was sullen and didn't know what to say.

"Mrs. Salinger, I am sorry. We have done everything possible for your brother." I just shook my head. I ran to go hug Bailey.

"Its okay, Claudia..It's okay." We all went into the room together to say goodbye to Charlie. Joe even came. Paul decided to go first.

"Well, I didn't know you well. But, I wish you the best..God, I just don't know what to say." Paul told Charlie.

"It's okay Paul." Is all he said. With that Paul left. Then Sarah went.

"Charlie.." She was movin her hands around a lot and chocking back tears. "I have known you for a long time. And, the truth is. I always looked up to you as a big brother, Char. You were always there for me, and I can't believe that you are..you are just going..like this." She said.

"Sarah, I will be fine..I love you, and I always thought of you as my little sister..Take care of Bailey okay?" She shook her head yes. And, left the room followed bye Joe who had some things to say. Owen cried and said that he didn't understand why Charlie had to leave forever. But, Charlie said that he would always be watching Owen, no matter where he was. Then Owen said bye. Now it was Kerstins turn.

"Charlie. This shouldn't be happening not like this. I can't do this Charlie..I mean watch you dying, like this. I am gonna get sick again..I am gonna get back into depression Charlie. I won't be able to deal." She said.

"Look, Kerstin you have to be strong for me. You can't get back into depression just because I am gone. You will do fine..Do it for me Kerstin, do it for me." He said.

"Charlie, I haven't said this in a long time,but I love you Charlie. I love you so much."

"I love you to Kerstin.." He was crying. Kerstin left and then it was just the three of us. Bailey Julia and me.

"Well you guys. I guess this is it.I decided that Claudia and Owen should live with the two of you. It's what's best for them" He smiled. He was wearing off, I could tell he was going to go anytime now.

"Thank you Charlie." Julia said. She said goodbye and how much she loved him and thanked him for raising her and Bailey did too. Thanked him for everything that he did for him. And, then just left in the room was me. Just me and Charlie.

"Charlie.." I cried. "Do you have to go..Can't you fight." I asked him.

"Claudia. I have tried as hard as I could..I have..I really have..now all I need for you to do for me is to be happy that i am going to be with mom and dad. Can you do that for me?"

I shook my head. "Charlie, it won't be the same with out you around..I can't do it. Not with out you. You are my dad now Charlie..You are." I said. I could tell that he was really touched.

"Claudia, thank you..I love you and I want you to know that I am so proud of you and I will always be proud of you..You just have to be strong and go on..for me..it's the best for all of us. I know you can do it. Claud, your the one the keeps the family together, the one that always reminds us that we are a family. I know you can do that..You are brave claud..you know that..I just want you to do something for me."

"Anything Charlie, anything." I said to him.

"Tell Owen about me. Don't let him forget about me." He told me.

"I promise." I gave him a hug and kiss. "Char you are the best dad anyone could ever have..I love you, I love you so so so much." I couldn't believe I was saying goodbye to him. He was the one who raised me after my parents died, it just didn't seem real. He took one last breath and tried to talk.

"Claudia, I love you, and I always will." With that his eyes just closed and he fell asleep, his heart machine went off and he was gone, my brother who was like a father to me, was gone..gone forever.

It had been exactly one week since that fatal night at the hospital. It had been exactly one week ago that Charlie died. It just didn't seem real. I had lost Charlie, the guy who practically raised me and took care of me and was like a father to me, was gone and I would never see him ever again. I was in my room getting ready for the funeral. It had been hard to deal with Charlie being gone, but I knew I could be strong for everyone. I cried a lot but I was actually starting to feel better.

Charlie's last words to me were " I love you and always will..You have to be strong for me." So, that is what I am going to do. I have to be strong for Charlie.

Everyone else was dealing pretty well about it too. Bailey took off work from the restaurant and Julia took leave from school. Sarah was always around the house doing something, trying to do whatever she could, even Kerstin was being strong. She came over to the house more than Sarah and we talked a lot about what was going on.

I dressed into a black skirt with a blue button down shirt and black cardigan over it, I didn't want to wear all black. Then I put on the locket that Charlie gave me with his picture of him in it and he always told me that if I missed him or needed him then he would always be there. I took hold of the locket and closed my eyes and tried to picture Charlie. Just then Julia came in my room. She was a little teary eyed, but that was about it. Everyone around here was either crying or had drabby looking eyes.

"Claudia, it's time to go, are you ready?" She asked me.

"Ya..I guess so." I said sadly. I really didnt' want to go to the funeral and watch my 28 year old brother be buried. I mean he was only 28 years old, he didn't even live that long to experience everything he wanted to do.

"Come on Claud, lets go and get this over with." She said and grabbed my hand. I shook my head in understanding. Me, Owen, Bailey and Julia all got into Bailey's car and went to the cemetery. There everything was all set up. I saw Charlie in his casket. It was really ery. I had flashbacks of my parents funeral. I started to cry right when I saw it. I just had to let it all out, it didn't help to keep it inside of me anyways. I was weeping and Bailey came over and held me till I was able to walk on my own.

"Claud..it's okay..shh..it's okay sweetie." I nodded my head that I was okay and all of us remaining siblings grabbed hands and walked over to where Charlie was. There were Frannie, Joe, Avery, Kerstin, and Paul, plus a lot of other people that Charlie knew. We sat down and the service began. The father was speaking and I felt sad so I just ran off I didn't know where I was going, but it was just too painful. I heard Julia call after me, but I didn't listen. I went under a cyprus tree and I decided to sit there. About fifteen minutes later Kerstin came.

"Claudia, there you are. Everyone is looking for you." She said.

"I didn't go that far." I said back to her.

"I know, but Claudia they're worried..I mean they just lost their brother, they just don't want you wandering off somewhere. And, I know why you ran off because you are scared and sad but, remember what Charlie told you Claudia. You have to be strong from him..and be brave, and I know it's hard for you Claud..I know it is...but, you can deal with this. I mean you have gone through this before. It's going to be okay." Kerstin looked at me straight in the eye. "okay." I agreed with her, I had to be strong and running away from it wasn't going to help any. I got up and we headed back to where everyone else was. Half the people had already gone and a few were just remaining.

"Claudia!" Julia yelled. "Are you alright?" She asked.

"Ya..I am fine, Jules." She gave me a hug.

"Good, come on let's go home." We got back in the car and we went home. I went up to my room when I came home. I jsut wanted to go there and sleep, the day had been so exhausting. Tomorrow was a school day, but I didn't think that I was going to go. I knew that Julia had to go back to Stanford and that Bailey had to go to the restaurant, but I wasn't ready to go back.

"Claudia!" Sarah yelled up to me.

"Ya?" I yelled back from upstairs.

"Come on we're all having dinner together." She yelled back.

"Okay, I will be down in a minute." I went downstairs and there was tons of food. We all sat down in the dining room together. Bailey, Julia, Sarah, Kerstin, Paul, Owen and me we were all there. It didn't seem right with out Charlie.

"So, Jules, are you going to Stanford tomorrow?" Bailey asked trying to make conversation.

"Ya..I guess so. Claud, on my way there in the morning I will drop you off at school and I will take you in." She said. I was surprised. I wasn't planning on attending school this early.

"Jules..I thought I would stay home just a little longer." I told her.

"Claud, I know that's what you want to do and I know that something awful happened, but you have to get back to school, you can't just dissaper again." She said.

"Bailey. Do I have to?" I asked.

"I think it's a good idea that you do, Claud. I mean you don't wanna get behind on your school work."

"Ya, Claud..You know if you miss so many days you can fail and you don't want that." Kerstin told me.

"But, you guys..It's only been a week. I mean I know that I am dealing well with what happened, but I don't want to go back to school..Please Julia..Bailey, don't make me go back." I begged.

"Claud..you are going to school tomorrow and that's the end of the story." Bailey said. I could feel that tears were swelling up in my eyes but I decided to fight them off. They didn;t need to see me cry.

"Okay." I groaned. That night I went to bed around 10 I wouldhave to wake up at 7 tomorrow. I woke up the next morningand got ready I was nervous about going.How would people react to me? I went downstairs and Julia was cooking breakfast for me.

"Hungry Claud?" She had a smile on her face. That was a sudden change.

"Ya..Why are you so happy?" I asked.

"I don't know, it's just so beautiful outside." She was obviously happy for some reason other than that and I was happy for her.

"Jules, is there something that you aren't trying to tell me?" I asked.

"Not tell you..Claudia no.." She sounded like she was lying, I could always tell when she was trying to keep something from me.

"Julia..Tell me." I begged.

She sighed.."Claud..I don't know how to tell you this, and I didn't want to tell you I didn't think I would ever have too.."She said.

"What?" I asked again.

"Today, me and Bailey have an appointment with someone from Social Services."

I looked at her in shock. "What exactly do they want?" I asked worringly.

"Well, they just want to know what's going on with our family and decide if..if me and Bailey are good enough guradians for you and Owen." Julia said. Her smile faded and she was beginning to act nervous.

"You mean, they might not let me and Owen stay with you?" I didn't want that to happen. "No, Julia. You can't let them. I won't..I won't go with them." I yelled.

"Claud, calm down..Okay me and Bailey will take care of it. We aren't going to lose you. I promise." She assured me. I shook my head.

Julia took me to school and then I went to my first period class. Everyone was staring at me, I guess they knew what had happened. My teacher, Mrs. Shrader came up to me before class.

"Claudia, it's so good to have you back, how are you doing? You look well."

"I am actually feeling well, Mrs. Shrader, thank you." "Well, if there is anything that I can do for you, just let me know." She said sympathetically.

"Okay." I said to her. The day went by quickly and then I went home. Julia and Bailey were there waiting for me.

"Did you have a good day at school?" Bailey asked in a calm voice.

"Ya..how did the meeting go?" I asked them.

"Well, good news Claud..You aren't going anywhere." Julia said.

"Yes! Thank god! I am so happy!" I said with glee. We all gave each other hugs.

"But, there are some things that we need to go over." Bailey said. "Like?" I asked.

"Well, I am gonna try to be like Charlie, I mean not exactly like him, but I wanna do just as good as a job, as he would have."

"What do you mean?"

I asked confused. "Well for instance rules." Bailey pointed out.

"Rules, what kinda rules." I asked.

"Well, no parties with out permission, you can't go anywhere with out telling us, and well jsut don't do anything stupid." Bailey said.

"Okay..I can live with that."

"And, your curfew is 10:45." Julia added.

"Woah, Julia..Isn' that just a little early?"I asked.

"No, not for your age." She said. I just shook my head, what was she thinking by making me come home by 10:45? I could tell though, that we were gonna be okay.

( Two months later)

Things had gotten back to normal, my grades improved and I made more friends, but Bailey and Julia had become more protective. I guess I couldn't blame them.

One night I was going out with my new friends, Kate and Lilley. We were just gonna go o the movies.

"Okay Claud, have fun." Julia said as I walked out the door. "You sure that you don't need a ride?" She asked me..

"no Jules." I told her.

"I love you Claud." She yelled as I was on the way out.

"I love you to Julia." I yelled back to her. We had always been saying that just incase anything ever happened to us, and we might not get to say goodbye. I went to the movies and I met Kate and Lilley. We went ot see a movie and it let out at 10, which left me 45 minutes left. We started talking to some guys from our school and before I knew it, it was 11;45..How did it get to be so late!

I told Kate and Lilley that I had to go and I ran to go catch the city bus. I knew that Julia and Bailey would be so mad. I went and outside was Sarah and Kerstins car. I bet they called them over to help look for me. I went inside and I saw everyone in the living room. Julia was crying and Bailey was pacing back and forth.

"Claudia!" Julia yelled as she came running to me. "Where have you been. We were so worried!"

"I am fine Julia." I told her.

"Don't ever come home late like that again..We thought something happend to you..don't do that ever ever again!" She yelled. "you got it!?" She added.

"Ya, I promies Jules." She got over being worried, but Bailey was upset with me and we had a lecture over being responsible. Julia and Bailey were telling me how I couldn't just come home late like that, and forget about everything else. Finally they stopped yelling at me and I went up to bed. The next morning everyone else was gone and I found a note from Bailey. Claudia, We went out be back at 5 be ready to go to Salingers for dinner."

Finally it was 5pm and Bailey and Julia came home with Owen.

"Hey Claud." Bailey said. "You didn't go anywhere today did you?" He asked.

"No." I said back. I wasn't aloud to go out on the weekend for a month cause of what I had done.

"Claudia, we're sorry about last night, you know about yelling at you like that and everything." Julia said.

"Yea..We're just worried about you. We don't want anything to happen to you cause you are all we have, I mean besides Owen. We were just worried..Cause you mean so much to us, and we don't wanna lose you." Bailey said.

"I know."

"Well, come on everyone lets go to Salingers." Julia said happily.

"Okay!" Bailey agreed.

It had been two months since Charlie had passed, but things were going well. I just stood there looking at my remaining family. "Comin Claudia?" Bailey asked.

"Ya." I smiled. "Let's go." I knew that even with Charlie gone, that we were still a family and that no matter what happened we still would be. I grabbed my coat and walked out the door we went to Salingers to make reseravations for a Party of Four.