"...I don't want her forgiveness. I just want her to know..."
I watch, helpless, as Johnny's eyes fill with tears. "I just want her to know...."
Johnny's voice fades away, and I wonder if he will ever understand that there is nothing to forgive. That I do know. And that I will always love him.
Johnny just wants to be alone, and for once, my brother doesn't need to have it spelled out for him. After giving Johnny one last reassuring hug, my brother walks away.
For several minutes, Johnny stares at my headstone, but I can tell he's not seeing it. I wonder what he's thinking, what memories are going through his mind. Silent tears begin to course down his face, and all I want to do is put my arms around him; to comfort him.
So I do, but he doesn't feel it. I may as well be the chilling breeze that ruffles through his hair. He doesn't feel that either.
But I can feel. It's as though I'm now a part of him, and I can feel the sobs rising in his chest. I can't stop him as he falls to his knees, dropping his cane as he reaches out for the cold headstone that bears nothing of me but my name.
"Please, Kate," he rasps, his words marred by his uncontrollable sobs. He presses his forehead against the bitter stone, not knowing that his forehead actually rests on mine as I hold him close. "Please understand. Please tell me that you know why I did this. Why I had to do this. I had to let you go, and I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Kate...."
I try to feel sorrow, whether it's for him or for myself. I try to cry with him, but I can't. All I can feel is what I've felt since my death. Peace. Total peace, and a deep, abiding love like none I had ever known in my earthly life. I try to share that feeling with Johnny, whispering these thoughts into his ear, but he is heedless as he climbs unsteadily to his feet without his cane.
He raises his tear-stained face to the sky. "Why?!?" he demands, rage coloring his words. "Why did you do this? Why did I see it if I couldn't stop it?"
He pushes his voice to its breaking point. "I wasn't even supposed to stop it!! Why? Why can I save strangers, and not the people I love?!?!?"
I want to tell him why, but I know he won't listen. He isn't ready yet. I can only watch as he viciously swipes the tears from his face and takes a deep, trembling breath.
"I just... I just want a sign, Kate. Just a sign, huh? Just let me know that you're okay...."
He shakes his head, bending down to retrieve his discarded cane. As he walks away, I can only smile.
Johnny knows me, almost as well as he knows Sarah. We shared so much, all of us friends. We watched the same movies, sang the same songs.
I watch as Johnny climbs into his jeep. He turns the key, and as the engine roars to life, so does the radio.
...."Don't you forget about me. Don't, don't, don't, don't...."
Johnny's incredulous gaze is fixed on the radio for several seconds before he raises his eyes once more to the sky. It's a beautiful thing, to see his face as he finally does understand. Fresh tears fall, but he is laughing.
"God, I hated that movie!" He lowers his gaze again, closing his eyes. "But it was always your favorite, wasn't it, Kate? Even after all these years. And this stupid song...."
He opens his eyes as realization dawns. "You always said that this was our song. For all of us...."
He looks back towards my headstone, not knowing that his gaze is meeting mine.
"I hear you, Kate," he says softly. "I hear you. And I won't ever forget...."
As he drives away, I feel reassured. He finally knows that I know.
* * * * * *
The Arrow and The Song
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.
I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of a song?
Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again, in the heart of a friend.