Rachel stood over the casket and looked down at Danny in the large box. He looked so much more peaceful than the last time she had seen him, which was also the first time she had seen him. The man had died in the robbery right after she met him and she couldn't help but come to the funeral to pay her respects to the man she owed her life to.
It was thanks to him she got out of the store and away from the man who shot Danny and the poor clerk. She didn't know anyone here but there were two people, a man named Simon and one named Jesse who seemed to notice her as soon as she arrived. They were his best friends, they told her. She explained how she had met him and how Danny had attacked the gun man allowing her to get to safety.
"I just can't understand." She sobbed. "Why did it have to happen like this?"
Neither of the men answered her, but simply went on. She stayed through the service and went with them to the graveyard. She didn't know this man at all, but she knew from talking with his parents and his friends he had been a good guy. He was a paramedic before, and a good son, and a better friend.
Rachel stood next to the grave as they lowered his casket down. The man who had saved her life was being laid to rest and she had no idea why he had died instead of her. It just didn't seem fair.
She left for her car but the two men from before caught up to her first.
"We talked it over and we think there is something you ought to see." Jesse said as Simon pulled a photo from his wallet. He gave the picture to Rachel who looked it over carefully. The two of them were in the picture along with Danny and two girls. She didn't know the one who was clinging to Simon, but the one who Danny had his arm around made her think she was looking at a mirror.
"What is this? Who is this?" She asked.
Jesse explained. "That's Shay. She was Danny's girlfriend. They were together for years." He paused for a moment but continued after Rachel had looked around the grounds briefly. "She died. About six weeks ago. She and Danny were mugged and she got stabbed during the struggle." Rachel held her hand over her mouth but Jesse kept on. "Danny blamed himself for it all. He froze up when it happened and he always thought he could have saved her. He's been a wreck ever since."
Rachel looked down at the photo again. "Why?" She asked, not even sure what she was asking about.
Simon seemed to understand. "I think when he saw you in that store he thought he was seeing a ghost. And when that guy came in, he saw a chance to make it right with himself. A way to make to better."
Rachel was crying again. She kept looking from the photo in her hands to the boys before she shoved it back in their hands. "He died. . ." She sobbed. "He died just because I looked like his dead girlfriend?" She asked in tears.
Jesse bowed his head and held out his arms taking the girl into a close embrace while Simon did his best to make sure no one stared for long. "He would have been happy with it." Jesse said quietly when her sobs quieted. "He would have been happy knowing he would die so that he could save someone. It's how he would have liked to go." Jesse let a small smirk come over his face.
Rachel pulled away after he finished speaking. She wiped her eyes with a sniffle and pushed her hair back. "I don't know what to do." She whispered.
"You do what you can. Just make it count." Jesse said. Rachel could see the tears in the man's eyes as he looked at her. She smiled and he did the same.
"Thank you." She said again. She turned and looked back towards the grave. "Thank you Danny. I never knew you but thank you." She smiled and left with the two boys, going on to live a life. A life lived with the memories of those lost, but never truly gone, and never truly forgotten.
The Unforgotten. I really can't say what made me write this, but I feel good now that it's done. Always live your life for those that can't live theirs. Make it count.