Falling

Jess is just starting her second semester of being a Junior in high school. To start the semester off, she volunteers to show the new kid around the school. Mainly because she gets to skip gym class, but also because she is intrigued by the idea of meeting someone new. Over the first month of school, Jess becomes really close friend with the new student, but who wouldn't become best friends with Louis Tomlinson. He's funny, entertaining, and not to mention cute, but Jess would never admit to thinking that. Louis is always there for Jess, especially when she gets heart shattering news that changes everything.

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29. Twenty Eight.

Eight days later, Jared died.

I remember the drop of my heart when I was called down to the office to meet my mom. I walked numbly through the hallways like a robot on autopilot. I remember the look on my mom's face when I arrived to the office. She was pale and sullen, the office was filled with a gloomy feeling that stuck to me like glue. She took my hand and lead me out of the school, holding my shaking body in her arms once she shared the news. The sliver of hope that I had vanished. I felt like I wasn't in my body anymore, like nothing was real. I cried and shook as she drove me home, the tears not stopping for what felt like years. My father and John were waiting at home when I got there. Their heartbroken expressions will forever be imprinted into my brain, the look of emptiness and despair. The room felt gray and thick, the quietness shaking me even more. It no longer felt like my home, but a place of mourning that didn't deserve to be live in. Throughout it all, my brain repeated one phrase: it can't be real.

The last time I spoke to Jared was six days before his death. I was visiting him with Louis, as he had been going with him almost everyday. I gave me a comfort to have him there, it made it easier. Jared didn't talk much, but he listened to everything I had to say to him. I told him stories from school, from things I'd seen on television, and from home. He made staying awake seem like the hardest task, like it was taking a toll on him to keep his eyes open. I felt for him when his little voice spoke, saying he could no longer stay awake and wanted to take a nap. His reservation for falling asleep scared me. I knew that he was afraid of not waking up again, a fact that I observed from his perilous attempts to stay awake day after day. I always reassured him that he would be okay, that I would see him again the next day. I could only hope that it eased his worries. The last words I spoke to him were “I love you”.

Two days after that, Jared fell into a coma. I had skipped school that day because I wasn't feeling well. When I received the call from my mom that contained the news, I immediately got out of bed and threw up. I sat on my bathroom floor and cried, knowing that his time was fading away. I laid on the cool tile in my bathroom for hours, thinking about how I skipped my visit with Jared the day before to see a movie with Louis. It made me feel worse, as if I was the worst human being on the planet. The immense regret was immediate and prominent, it rattled through me like I was being struck by lightening.

After that, I went to see Jared whenever I could. I didn't take my time with him lightly, even if the conversation was completely one-sided. I still talked to him, I still told him stories and updated him on the recent actions taken on his favorite cartoons. I brought along his favorite action figures and left them next to his bed, aligning him in the positions he always liked. As I sat with him, I thought about how he would never get to see another cartoon, watch another movie, play with his action figures, or eat another peanut and jelly sandwich again. I thought about how he would never get to grow up and experience the best things in like, like getting married, having kids, having a career, walking his daughter down the aisle, or being a grandparent. He would never get to go to high school and fall in love with someone and have his heart broken. He would never experience the joy of passing his drivers test, getting into the college of his dreams, or graduating high school and leaving home to experience bigger and better things. He would never get his first cellphone, first kiss, go on his first date, get into his first fender bender, or pull his first all-nighter to study for a test he forgot about. He was going to miss out on so many things, so many stupid, little things that made life special. And I cried for him. I cried for all the things we wouldn't get to do, and I cried for all the things he was going to miss.

Though my life carried on like normal, nothing about it felt the same.

Then, it was time for Jared's funeral. It was a small, family filled service. Louis was with me the whole time while I spoke with family members about my little brother and shared precious memories with anyone who would listen. I found it easier to share the best memories to keep my mind off of the darkening pain that was growing inside of me. Louis was there to hold me up and give me strength during that time, helping me more than he would ever know. It was a surprise to me when he stood up to share a few words during the service, though his words made the evening brighter.

“I remember one time, when I was visiting him,” Louis spoke. “he was feeling particularly down that day, an emotion that rarely occurred with him. Despite his sadness, he greeted me with a large smile, one that can only be described as Jared. It was the day after I had asked Jess to be my girlfriend, which is what I went too share with him. Now, Jared was a big supporter of Jess and I dating. But he still needed to make sure that my intentions were straight. He told me to sit down, a serious look on his face. He told me that he wouldn't be around forever,” Louis paused to clear his throat. “and he wanted to make sure that I would be there for Jess when he couldn't be. He wanted to make sure that someone was always there for her, and I think that that encapsulates everything that Jared was. His care for his family was so strong, so powerful. Even though he was the younger brother, he took on the challenge of protecting his sister as if he was the older brother. He ended our visit that day by reminding me that he'll be watching me to make sure that I'm treating Jess right, and then gave me his permission to date Jess.”

I found myself laughing for the first time in days at the words that Louis shared. It was the first time that I was hearing that story. It warmed my heart to know that Louis spent time with Jared. I could picture the two boys together talking about superheroes and discussing our relationship. Jared would have loved to have heard all the amazing things Louis had to say about him. He loved Louis like he was his older brother, and it made me smile to know that they has this connection, even if it only lasted for a little while.

It was clear to me then that Louis was not only a gift to me, but a gift to my entire family. He was there for all of us during our time of loss. He there for John by being someone to play with when no one else was available. He was there for my parents by lending a helping hand at all times. He was there for my through everything he did. He was a light in the darkness that led me to find a way through the hard times.

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