We called all 17 people, telling them the situation, telling them we needed them to come quick. Of course, Aaiden and I weren't worrying about whether or not Taylor, Preston, Hazel, Shane, Stephen, Daniel, Jeremy, Bailey, Lilly, and Eva would come; they said yes without a question. It was the majority of the people I had to call, that I was worried about.
Tanner, said yes, right away. He said he would bring along Kaylie, who is officially his girlfriend again—despite what her parents want. Anthony quickly put away his pregnancy books, helped get Brie ready, who would also be joining us, and met Aaiden and I within minutes. Kelly said she would come, only if she could bring Riley. We said of course. I'm sure that'll be the least of our worries. Nate, of course, said yes, he would be coming.
Jacob, though, was hesitant. But with a little convincing, and a lot of pleading, he agreed. I knew he still cared for her. Avery said no. I beg, pleaded, bribed, but she said no. Have I ever mentioned how stubborn she is? And last, but not least, Brittany. Brittany didn't answer her phone, or just chose to ignore me, either way, she wont be coming.
We all quickly get in any car we can, once everyone is in the parking lot. I happen to be in Tanner's car, again. I'm with Tanner, Kelly, Stephen, and Riley, which make it extremely awkward.
"I like your shirt, Kelly." I say, trying to start conversation. "Thanks," Kelly replies. Silence. I can't even describe the awkwardness.
"We're here!" Tanner shouts happily ten minutes later when we arrive. Everyone practically breaks down the doors, in a hurry to get out. "Let's hurry!" Jacob yells, leading us to the information desk inside the hospital.
"We're here to see Gabrielle Tates." Nate says, slamming his hands down on the desk. The secretary jumps, "Okay, and who are you?" She asks. "Her friends! Hurry up!" Anthony yells. "I think my babies coming, hurry! I need to see her!" Brie yells, holding her stomach, lying. Her baby is definitely not coming. She still has a good four months to go, although I admit, she looks like she could blow any minute.
The secretary scatters the paper and looks at a long list. "Gabrielle Tates, right? Room 204." We don't even bother with a reply, we just run down the hall. "This way," Stephen leads us.
Then, we're in front of her door. Room 204. Jacob is the first to open the door.
"Gabby?" Jacob asks, looking into her room, "Hey," He greets her. All 19 of us push through the door, crowding Jacob. We all gather around her bed, Aaiden, Jacob, Kelly, Tanner, Anthony, Nate, and I are right by her head. "Hey, what are you all doing here?" Gabby smiles weakly.
She has tubes of IV going through every open part of her body. She's pale and looks weak. She's fine, she's fine, I keep telling myself. I don't believe it. "To see you, of course." Kelly says softly. Gabby smiles wider, "Kelly! I missed you." Kelly glows at this, "I missed you like mad, Gab." I think Kelly's going to cry. "I missed you all. Tanner, and Anthony, Brittany, did she come?" Gabby asks. I shrug, "I'm sorry, she didn't answer her phone. I tried." I tell her. Gabby nods sadly, "It's okay. Thanks, though. What about Avery, did she come?" Gabby's voice cracks as she looks around the room, Avery nowhere to be seen.
"Yeah, Gabby, I am." Avery pops in the doorway, at just the right time. She joins us at the head of Gabby's bed. Gabby smiles again, "I'm glad. Really, really glad." Avery smiles back, "I couldn't leave you alone with these freaks, right?" Everyone laughs, not taking her seriously, not taking offence.
"And Jake, you're here." I haven't seen her looks this happy in a while, ever with IV tubes coming out of her nose. "Yeah, I'm here." He glows back, but he doesn't smile. "So, are you going to tell us why you're here, Gabby?" Eva asks.
Gabby sighs, still watching Jacob, who is now rocking on his feet, looking down. "I guess it's about time, huh?" We all nod. Aaiden grabs my hand and squeezes.
"Well, I found out two years ago. I never told anyone because I didn't want you to think I couldn't do the same things I did before. I didn't want you to act different around me. It's important to me that everyone treats me normally, like everyone else." We all wait patiently for her to finish.
"I have cancer. Leukemia." It's like all the wind gets knocked out of you, you just cant breath. Cancer. She's to young. "Two years ago they said I had six years to live. We found it late; too late to do any treatments; nothing could get rid of all of it. So I decided I wouldn't even try with the treatment, I'd live the last six years of my life the best I could and go to heaven happily." I hear many people around me starting to cry.
"But now it's in my brain. I have brain tumours and they say I have only weeks, if anything." Now is when I start to cry. Jacob has his head in his hands, sobbing uncontrollably. Cancer. Leukemia.
"Weeks?" Avery squeaks. Gabby nods. Tanner looks around at the huge group of people that fill the room, "Can we just talk to Gabby for a little while, alone?" Everyone looks around like 'Are you talking to me?' Tanner just keeps staring, "Please?" They nod and leave. Aaiden kisses me on the cheek before he goes.
When everyone is gone it's just Avery, Jacob, Kelly, Nate, Tanner, Anthony, Gabby, and I. No Brittany. "Should I call Brittany again?" I ask. Nate nods, "I think it would be best. I nod back, already dialling her number. It rings four times before it reaches her voice mail. "No answer." I say, disappointed and a bit worried. "Her loss." Avery mumbles.
Jacob kneels down on the ground, grabbing Gabby's hand. He exposes that huge Elephant in the room that we all wanted to avoid, "I'm so sorry, Gabby. I feel horrible. We jumped to conclusions and made your past few weeks hell. I don't know what I can do to make it up to you, but I'll do it. Anything, Gabby. Anything." Jacob is crying, leaving a wet stain beside Gabby on the bed. His hand is white from holding onto her so tight.
Gabby ruffles Jacob's black hair with her weak, pale hand. "Just don't leave me again. That's all I want." She says softly. Jacob gets up to kiss her, "Promise me you wont do the same." He says. "Do what?" "Leave me."
Gabby sighs, trying not to cry, "I promise I'll stay with you as long as possible." Everyone just starts bawling. She cannot go. A few weeks? No. Many other cancer patients have beaten it, beat the odds, right? Gabby can do that. She will have more than a few weeks. I'm sure of it. She has to.
"You know, this whole thing is my fault. Gabby, I read an email that you were writing to your mom. I jumped to conclusions. I even read that part about that medication not helping! I could have prevented this whole thing from happening. I'm sorry. So, so sorry, Gabby." I explain, hoping that she can forgive me, knowing that she probably wont. What a horrible friend I am. "It's not your fault, Isabelle. I should have just told you guys from the start." She replies, much to my surprise. I shake my head, it isn't true.
"I was the one to tell Isabelle I thought you were cheating. I'm such a horrible person." Avery admits. Gabby shakes her head and laughs, "You couldn't be a horrible person if you tried. You're the best friend a person could ask for."
"Listen to us, Gabby is the one in pain, hurting, and d-" Anthony cannot get the word out. The word everyone has been wondering about. He just skips it, "And we are complaining about our lives. Let's just be happy. Let's all forgive and move on. Let's spend these next few weeks, or months--because we all know Gabby is stronger than the doctors think--all together. Let's make memories." "I second that." Tanner says. Gabby smiles wider, "God, how did I end up with such great people to call my friends?" Everyone chuckles. "I was thinking the same thing." Kelly says.
"Hey, guys, is that?…" Nate points out the glass window, looking out into the hallway. I follow the direction of his finger and see a small, frail girl with wavy blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail. She is in a wheelchair, getting pushed by what looks to be a nurse. It's Brittany. Brittany Garrison.
Kelly runs to the door, opens it, and calls out Brittany's name. Brittany's head whips around and looks confused. "Kelly?" She asks. Kelly nods, running to give her a hug. Everyone follows Kelly except for Jacob and Gabby, who are watching from the window. "What happened?" Anthony asks. "David." Brittany replies. We all know exactly what happened. "Oh Brittany." I cry, "Did you get away from him? Please tell me he's out of your life." "He's in jail. I called the cops." Brittany explains. Everyone sighs with relief.
"If you're okay, I'm sure Gabby would want you to see her. She has something to tell you." Avery says. Brittany nods, "Of course I will. I didn't even know she was here. What's wrong?" She asks, her eyes full of concern. Brittany rolls her way into Gabby's room, the nurse waiting outside the room, giving us privacy. "I think Gabby should tell you." Nate says.
"Gabby?" Brittany mumbles, by way of greeting. "Brittany! Oh gosh, I've missed you so much. I've missed everyone." Brittany tears up, "I'm so sorry for staying with David. I was just stupid, love sick. I didn't know what I was doing. I was beyond confused. I should have never been with him. If only I knew the real David before." Brittany apologizes. "Don't worry about it. We've all made some mistakes we regret, but today is the day that we start over. It's a new beginning." Gabby replies. Brittany closes her eyes. I can only imagine everything she wants to see when she opens her eyes.
Her feet on the ground, the bruises covering her body gone. A healthy Gabby. A room filled with smiling faces, rather than crying. All those days without each other, forgotten. A life without David Demesa. But that will never happen.
"What's wrong?" Brittany asks Gabby when she opens her eyes, taking in the reality. "I have cancer." Gabby tells her, like it's nothing. Like cancer is some 24-hour stomach flu; cured overnight.
Brittany closes her eyes again, but she doesn't cry. I guess she's run out of tears. "You'll beat it. The chemo will hurt, but you can do it. You're a survivor." Brittany replies optimistically. Gabby shakes her head at Brittany, "I have weeks left. I've had leukemia for two years, back then they said I had six years to live, but now it's spread to my brain. I only have weeks left, Brittany." Now, Brittany cries. "No. You're lying. Just tell me this is some mean joke. You're playing a joke on me because I chose that scumbag over you guys. That's it, right? I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Just tell me it's a joke." Brittany begs, shaking with her tears. "I can't. I wish I could. "
I look over at Avery, who is subtly grabbing Nate's hand for comfort. He takes her hand in his and squeezes.
Just like that, the world is in perfect order.
Gabby may have Cancer, and we might have ruined what might be her least few weeks living, but she has forgiven us and we must forgive ourselves. We only have so much time left, and we will not spend it crying over the past. Or the future, for that matter. We will enjoy the time we have left, with her. Because that's all we can do. Move forward and make memories.
Gabby made it through two great weeks, before it was time. We spent everyday with her. We talked, and laughed, and remembered. We remembered all the good times we had together. We laughed about anything and everything. They say laughing can add years to your life. We only hoped.
I might have not known Gabrielle for all that long, but I will always remember her. I will carry her picture with me everywhere I go, because I never want to let go. When Gabby went we didn't say goodbye, because its not like we wont see her again. We'll see her again soon, when it's our time to go.
We did tell her we love her, though, the morning that we knew she would go, and that we will miss her. She said the same back, weakly. Her heart rate slowed a few hours later, until there was nothing. And she was gone. Until we meet again, Gabby, until we meet again.