It was early the next morning, when my mom and dad asked Keyla, Courtney, and Matt to come over and see me. I’m still in bed. Suddenly I heard a familiar voice.
“Wake up, sleepy head,” said Courtney.
I’m feeling a bit tired, but I’m so happy to see it is Courtney.
“Oh my gosh! Courtney!”
“Yes, Mia. It’s me.”
“Hey, Mia,” called out an excited Keyla.
I jumped out of bed. “Hey, Keyla.”
They both embraced me, and then we all cried for about five minutes.
Keyla is the first to stop. “Okay, come on now.”
“Courtney, is Mia up?” called Matt from downstairs.
“Yes, babe, she is.”
“Okay. Tell her hey from me.”
“Hey, Matt,” I called out to him.
We’re all excited to be together again. Since leaving for school, I have not seen anyone. It’s nice to be able to catch up with everyone again.
It’s exactly 8 in the morning, and I want to be ready for later today, so I go ahead and get up to shower while the gang waits downstairs. Then we all sit down with Mom and Dad and have a nice breakfast. Everyone wants to know how everything was going in NYC.
“So, Mia, how is NYC life treating you?” asked Matt.
“I am loving NYC, Matt. There is just so much to do.”
“I’m glad. Courtney tells me that your classes are all going well.”
“Yes, I am always running around. I’m very busy.”
“So happy to hear it, Mia,” he says.
“Yeah, Mia,” chimed Keyla.
“Oh, I love hearing about the big city,” said an excited Courtney.
Mom and Dad smiled as they listen to us talking. It feels good to be able to tell my closest friends and my parents about my life in New York. I’m feeling more at ease than I was last night. It’s a hard thing for me to accept that Mrs. Dancy is not quite herself; especially after all the fun she’d apparently had on her trip.
I’m so caught up in my thoughts of Mrs. Dancy; I don’t hear my mother calling. “Mia, honey, you okay?”
“I’m sorry, Mom. I’m just thinking how happy I am to be here.”
“Oh, I know, honey. We have missed you.”
I felt bad about lying to my mom. I just don’t want to let her know that I’m feeling like a terrible person for leaving them the way I did. First they lost Leo, and then I just go off to New York. One minute his loss, and then the next minute I’m running away consume me. Plus, there’s still this issue with Henry Watson. I don’t want to speak of him. I’m hoping to avoid any talk of him.
Sadly, that does not seem possible. I’d already mentioned him and Sandy to Keyla and Courtney. To my dismay, they bring his name up at the end of breakfast.
“So, Mia, how are Sandy and Henry?”
Okay, I needed to stay cool. If I begin to hesitate, Mom and Dad are going to see right through me. “Oh, they are good. Busy, like me.”
Mom leaned forward slightly. “Mia, I heard about Sandy, but who is Henry?”
“Oh, he is a painter. And a friend too.”
“Oh, okay. It’s just that you never mentioned him, dear.”
“Well, it must have slipped my mind.” I look over at Keyla and Courtney. They’re obviously embarrassed. I avoid looking in Matt’s direction. What will he think of me?
“Well, I’m glad you have good friends up there at school too, Mia,” he says.
I sighed in relief. “Thank you. It is nice.”
“So, where is Henry from?”
“He is actually from Yorkshire.”
“Wait. Yorkshire…in England?” asked my father.
“Yes, and his family still lives in Yorkshire now.”
“Well, I have heard of Yorkshire,” says my Dad.
“Hmm, small world.”
“Wow, you actually know someone from the UK!” exclaims Keyla.
“Oh wow!” echoed Courtney.
“Here we go,” Matt teased.
Courtney glared at him. “What?”
“Don’t what me!” he hollered.
She frowned and scratched her head. “I don’t get it.”
“Come on, Court. All of us are on to you!” he continued.
A smile crossed her face as a light of recognition dawned. “Oh, is it because of my love for Brits?”
“Yes!” I chimed in.
She let out a laugh. “Okay, I do.”
We all laughed so hard. I almost fell out of my bed.
“Okay, enough questions about Henry. He is a friend, just like Sandy.”
“I am glad Sandy is your roommate, Mia,” said Mom.
“Me too. She is great. You guys would love her.”
“Well, come on guys. Let’s all get ourselves ready for the memorial,” Dad said in a more stern tone.
“Yes, I agree,” I say.
“Okay, Mia. We will meet you at the memorial,” Courtney says.
“No problem, guys.”
Then Courtney and Matt left to go to her place and get dressed. Then Keyla had to tie up some loose ends at work, so all of us agreed to meet up at the memorial.
Outside, it began to get cloudy. I loved how the sky looked, with the slight overcast on it. My only concern was that the rain would cause issues with the memorial service.
Hey! maybe this is Leo’s way of blessing us.
Before I got dressed, I decided to help my mom pick up all the dishes and organize the house. She didn’t ask me, but I want to help. I enjoyed being able to do things for my parents, especially since they had been so supportive of me throughout my transition to New York. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy for them, but they knew I needed a change. I’m so glad they didn’t stop me from moving after everything that happened.
I’m just about done with the house when my cell phone rings. I don’t recognize the number, but I know the area code is a New York one.
“Hello,” I said.
Oh my goodness, it’s Henry!
I don’t want to go into the reason for my trip, so I transfer the call over to voicemail when I heard his voice. As I said, I haven’t shared anything about what happened to Leo. It took me long enough to open up to Sandy about it, and I lived with her. I felt a little guilty about hanging up on Henry like that, but this is something I needed to keep to myself for now.
“Mia, was that the phone?” Mom calls from the kitchen.
“Yes, Mom. It was mine.”
She doesn’t ask anything else, and I’m grateful for that. I waited for her to go, and then I ran upstairs to get dressed. Once my bedroom door is closed, I pull out my phone and checked his message.
“Hey, Mia. Sorry to disturb you. I am a bit daft today. I forgot you were away. I was heading out for coffee and thought of you. I just ran into Sandy, and she said you were back home. Later Luv.”
I can’t help but bite my lip and begin to smile when I heard his message. I remembered asking him about the word daft, and he said it meant stupid or silly in England. I like learning a few new words here and there.
Oh my goodness! Look at the time. I needed to get ready.
Later that evening, it is time for the memorial. It’s being held at the church where Leo’s funeral was. Boy, I never thought I would be back here so quickly. These past couple of years has just flown by, but I’ve grown a lot in that amount of time. I’m much stronger than I was when I left Ann Arbor.
I saw Mr. Dancy as soon as we got inside. He came right up and embraced me.
“Hey, Mia. It is so good to see you.”
“You too, Mr. Dancy.” I tried looking around for Mrs. Dancy, but sadly I didn’t see her.
He lowered his eyes to the floor for a moment. “I am sure you heard about Leo’s mom.”
I lightly touched his arm, “Yes, I did. I wanted to say that I am praying for her.”
“She’s getting better, and that is why I couldn’t bring her today.”
“I am sorry for not being here for you both.” Tears filled my eyes, and I began to sob uncontrollably.
He tapped my shoulder. “Mia, please, dear. Don’t blame yourself, we know you had to leave.”
“I just needed to find myself again,” I said through the tears.
“I know, dear.”
After talking with Mr. Dancy, I felt a little better. I knew, at least, that he understood my reasons for going.
“After today’s memorial, I am going to ask everyone to just remember Leo in their own way. I will ask for a blessing at church, and I visit his graveside quite often. But I think this was a mistake. I should have kept this low-key.”
“Mr. Dancy, I thought what you all planned today is lovely, and I am sure Leo appreciated it.”
He cleared his throat. “Thank you, Mia.”
I’ve been talking to him for a while now, and I realize that the time is running away from me. I go to sit down in the back next to my parents as Leo’s Mass begins.
It’s a lovely tribute. Courtney and Matt are sitting in front of us, and so is Keyla. Mr. Dancy sits in the front with a few of Leo’s relatives and some of his other friends.
The priest does a beautiful job of starting everything off, and then Mr. Dancy decides to speak. Tears fill my eyes as he says, “Thank you all for being here for Leo’s anniversary. I know it doesn’t seem like it happened at all, and to think that two years have gone by without him is just so unreal. As you know, my wife would’ve wanted to be here today, but she is not doing so well. The toll of dealing with our son’s tragic passing has been an enormous one. For this reason, I am not going to be scheduling any more public memorials. I am going to be doing them more privately from here on. This, as you can see, does not get any easier.” He bows his head, and his shoulders jerk as he sobs.
The tears flowed down my cheeks, and I rummaged around in my purse for a tissue. Both my parents hold onto me, and I can see Matt getting teary-eyed in front of us.
When the Mass ended, we head back to Leo’s resting place. We all stood over his grave and tossed down our flowers. Mr. Dancy went first and tried to remain calm. I waited for everyone else to go first, and then I placed my flower down last.
All the old feelings came back to me stronger than ever and I began sobbing once again.
“Mia, I am here,” said my mother.
I leaned my head against her shoulder. “Mom, I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t.”
My father is also there to comfort me.
“Thanks! Daddy,” I cried.
I had already made my peace with his loss and now this visit has brought it all back.
I need to get back to my new life.