Authors: Rebecca Lynn Clayson
By Rebecca Lynn Clayson
2013 by Rebecca Lynn Clayson. All rights reserved worldwide.
No part of this publication may be replicated, redistributed, or given away in any form without the prior written consent of the author/publisher or the terms relayed to you herein.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, and events are products of the author's imagination, and have been used fictitiously. Any resemblance or similarity to persons, living or dead, events, or organizations is coincidental.
It was the type of phone call every person dreads getting.
hung up the phone and tried to keep her composure, but despite her best efforts to hold back tears, she couldn't keep them from running down her face.
Her father was gone. The funeral was on Monday. Her heart was pounding, and she felt short of breath, trying to make sense of the news she had just received.
The death had been sudden and unexpected, and the doctors were still trying to figure out exactly what had happened. Wednesday evening he seemed to be fine and had even attended a potluck dinner at the church, but when the housekeeper arrived on Thursday morning, she couldn't get him to wake up. She had called 911, but it had been too late. They suspected that it was a heart attack, but the doctors wouldn't know for sure until an autopsy had been performed.
had just talked to him on the phone Wednesday evening, and he was making plans for the Fourth of July festivities that their small town had every year. Her dad, Jerry, loved the Fourth of July; it was his favorite holiday. Every year, their small town in southwestern
had a big gathering with a parade and fireworks. Her dad loved seeing all the people in his community, and he stayed up late to watch the fireworks show - which was a big deal since he was usually in bed by 10 o'clock each night so that he could get up early for work.
Since it was his favorite holiday,
flew home every year to attend the event with him. She already had her flight booked for next month so that she could go to this year's annual celebration.
stood up from her large oak desk and walked over to the big window of the high-rise in
where she worked. Her office was at the top floor of the building, overlooking some of the other tech companies in the area.
She tried to admire the scenic view out the window, but it was hard to see through her tears. Her father was her last living relative; it had been just the two of them for the past 15 years since her mother died had died of cancer.
Yes, there were times when they had their disagreements, mainly during her teenage years, but the two of them had grown quite close because they were the only family each other could turn to. During her mother’s courageous battle with cancer, Chelsea and her father had become each others rock and comfort. Months of chemotherapy and several surgeries hadn’t been enough to save her mother.
She still remembered the day of her mother’s funeral. The sun had been shining and
had thought it unfair that she should be going thru something so horrible on such a beautiful day. When she had said as much to her father, he reminded her of how happy being in the sunshine had made her mother and told her that every time she saw a sunny day from now on, she should think of her mother up in heaven.
It had been little comfort then, but through the years,
had continued to think of her mother every sunny day. These days, a sunny day made her smile. Except for today.
hard a hard time finding happiness from the sun shining through her office window. She had gradually gotten over the pain of losing her mother and now she was going home to bury her father. Life didn’t seem fair at times like these.
Chelsea felt as though her legs would give out, so she sat down on the chair across from her desk. She looked across the room and could see the picture of her and her father framed on the shelf. It was one of her favorite pictures, taken when they spent a weekend together at Lake Tahoe.
The rest of her desk showed a realistic picture of her daily life: files and piles of paperwork from her current projects, a phone headset that seemed to be attached to her all day long, a brand new laptop computer provided by the company, and her half-eaten lunch sitting to the side of the computer.
Seven years ago after graduating from college with a business degree,
had moved away because she was offered a great job with a startup tech company in
was far away from her quiet hometown in
, but it was the perfect opportunity to work for a company in the heart of the tech industry. It was hard to move so far away from her father, although she was excited for the adventure of living in a big city.
"There's no place like home, I guess I'm going back earlier than planned this year,"
muttered to herself. She stood up and reached across the desk for a box of tissues, trying to clear her nose and wipe away the mascara that was surely running down her face.
She knew that she needed to arrange the flight and talk to her boss about getting the time off. The online advertising company that she worked for provided her with good benefits, and although she knew they offered bereavement leave, she never would have imagined that she would need to take advantage of it. She wasn’t even sure how many days were offered; she hadn’t paid much attention to that benefit because she had never planned on using it – at least not any time soon.
Chelsea took a deep breath and knew what she needed to do. She closed her eyes, bowed her head and offered a silent prayer to ask God for help. It was going to be a hard week, and she knew that she couldn't do it on her own.
After the prayer, she stood up and tried to pull herself together. She would have time to grieve later, but right now it was important to get her travel arranged so that she could make it for the funeral.
walked back around her desk to sit down at her computer and began to make plans to fly out for the funeral. While she waited for the customer service clerk to finish her airline ticket, she pulled out a notepad and began making a list of all the things she would need to take care of in Idaho before flying back to
After hanging up with the airline, she continued to add to the list. She knew more things would come up after she arrived and looking at the list, it was a good thing that she had bereavement time available. She knew that she would need at least several days to arrange her father’s assets and the clean up the house. The bereavement leave would be helpful, but it was likely that she would still need to make another trip around the Fourth of July as planned.
It would be hard to be home over the Fourth without her father there, so she made a mental note to do the best that she could to wrap everything up in one trip. No need to prolong the pain of being home, and the firework show wouldn't be the same without her father at her side.
On the day of the funeral, the weather cooperated and it was a beautiful June afternoon. The sunshine peeked through the trees, in a way that her mother always referred to as "dancing sunshine fairies" on the grass. At the graveside service, Chelsea could feel the warm sunlight on her face, smell the sweet scent of the field next to the cemetery, and hear the rustle of the leaves as a gentle breeze blew through the treetops.
Many friends and neighbors showed up for the services, and
enjoyed seeing the familiar faces. Since it was a small town, everyone knew each other, so the whole town had come to show their support and to honor her fathers’ passing.
recognized a few people, but she hadn't kept in touch with very many of them since she moved away. She remembered names but had no personal connection to any of these people any longer: Mrs. Jorgensen, her piano teacher; Al Johnson, her Sunday school teacher during her teenage years; Katy O'Neil, who had graduated from high school a year after Chelsea; Dean and Ron, her dad's fishing buddies.
She felt as though time moved slower in the country town, almost as though nothing had changed. The streets and buildings were still the same as she always remembered, and the people hadn't changed much. There were a few more wrinkles and gray hairs to prove the passing of time, and the children had grown taller.
As she looked around at the crowd of people, she felt completely lost and out of place. Her new life in California had changed her in so many ways, and her busy city life seemed to move at the speed of light. She knew that she was a big-city girl returning to her hometown roots, and she felt a little self-conscious about the juxtaposition of her high-fashion clothing with the simple style that was common to the little country town.
was familiar with the community, she had spent many years running around the area and causing trouble with the other kids. But now she felt completely disconnected from the people in this town. She recognized that a lot had changed since she had moved away, and it wasn't the community that had changed. She had started a new life in
, and hadn’t looked back as she moved forward with her new adventure.
's stiletto heels dug into the grass as she walked across the cemetery, a stark difference from the ragged tennis shoes that she had worn as a young girl. She brushed her shoulder length, dark brown hair out of her eyes, and looked at her manicured fingernails-- observing the fact that her hands had lost the toughness she had as a young girl when she spent hours out in the large family garden with her parents.
After the funeral was over, she felt a gentle hand on her back and turned to see a familiar face: Mrs. Nancy Bullock.
"How are you holding up, my dear?" Mrs. Bullock said gently. She was genuinely concerned about
, and had been a dear family friend for many years.
"I can't believe he's gone,"
said numbly. "He seemed to be in great health, it's such a shock to me."
"It was surprising to us all," Mrs. Bullock agreed. "Jerry was a wonderful man, and he did great things for this community. He will be sorely missed."
"Yes, he was a wonderful man, and a great father. Even though I live so far away, we spoke on the phone several times a week. It's going to be strange to not hear my phone ring in the evenings."
"Give it time, honey. It's going to be hard, especially in the beginning. Just remember that God understands how you're feeling, you can always turn to him for help and support."
"Thanks for the reminder, sometimes it's easy to forget that I have a Heavenly Father to turn to. Life can get so busy sometimes, that it can be easy to forget the important things. God has always been there for me in the past, and I'm sure He won't leave me alone during this trial."
"Yes, God is always there to comfort you, just like Jerry was always available to help. You need to take some time for yourself today, but tomorrow you and I should probably talk about your father's radio station. You need to make some tough decisions about what should be done with the business."
's father and mother had started a Christian radio station 30 years ago. It had become a favorite of the locals, and the nondenominational Christian messages were geared to lift the spirit and give people hope. On the radio station, they shared messages of hope and inspiration, as well as uplifting music throughout the day.
’s dad had employed Mrs. Bullock for 20 years. She started out as a secretary helping with the paperwork and keeping up with odd jobs around the office. Over the years, Mrs. Bullock had become more of an assistant, involved in many aspects of keeping the radio station running. In recent years, she became an integral part of the day-to-day administration and had basically become part of the family, even though there was no blood relation.
"There are old neighbors that I need to catch up with today, and I should try to get some sleep,"
agreed. "But let's meet tomorrow morning and I'll take a look at what's going on with the radio station."
Mrs. Bullock gave
a big, mama bear hug. "It's going to be all right, we'll get this figured out together. I'm by your side."
squeezed her back. "Thank you so much for your help, I'm going to need it."
spent the rest of the afternoon talking with neighbors and family friends at the cemetery and at her father's house. The neighbors brought food and flowers to the house, and asked if there was anything they could do to help. The community came out of the woodworks to share their happy memories of
's dad, and offer support in her time of grieving.
She had good friends in
, but it felt nice to be home and remember what a small-town community was like; there was a bond of friendship and camaraderie in a small town that was hard to find in a big city. She had forgotten what it felt like, and didn't realize how much she would enjoy being surrounded by so many people who were concerned for her well-being.
knew that her father had been actively involved in the community, but she didn't realize how much of an impact he had on so many people. Throughout the day, she heard many stories about how his radio station had touched their lives and made their days a little better. She was inspired hearing the stories from all of these people, and was grateful that her father had left such an incredible legacy.