I walk into the yard of the hospital, glad to be outside for the first time in weeks. They gave me the okay to go outside late yesterday afternoon but I've always liked the mornings best. The sun is still rising and it's not too hot outside yet. The yard is very quiet as most other people are still having breakfast. I walk around and touch trees, flowers, everything within touch. After a while I sit down against an tree and play with the grass next to me, the green leaves bending under my touch and tickling my fingers. I take as deep a breath as I dare, still a bit scared that something might go wrong, but they assured me I was doing very well.
I smell the early morning smells that I love so much. They remind me of going camping and waking early to have a dive in the sea while the sun is still rising. Days when I was still well, when everything still felt right in the world.
That is what it is, right, my second chance at life. I'm not going to spoil it, I will step forward and reach my dreams. I close my eyes, letting the sun stream down on me.
Footsteps pull me from my daydreaming and I look up to find Anne. She is standing just feet away from me, her face a mixture of happiness and pain. She comes closer and sits next to me, quiet.
"Anne?" I touch her arm, trying to get her focus on me, and feel she is shaking. I quickly rise to my knees and hug her close. What is going on? Why is she here so early? Why is she so upset? "Anne? Sweety?"
"I'm not even sure how to explain this. How to tell you. How to make sense of this fucked up situation." Anne whispers, tears falling from her cheeks onto my arms.
"Tell me what? What is going on?" I lift her face, making her look at me. "What is it?"
"Vic, he died." She takes a breath and before I can even try to comprehend what is going on she speaks again. "And I'm pregnant."
I feel like I'm imploding, I'm cold, hot, in pain. This could not be true, he could not…
"How? I thought you said he was having more good days lately." I can't wrap my head around it. "Why would he even try?"
"The doctors said that it's probably because of the illness, the first quick tests didn't show anything he could have done himself. They think it might be that an attack took place in a wrong part of the body or brain and he died. When mum found him this morning he was stone cold, they were too late." Anne wraps her arms around me. "I'm so sorry."
"So am I." I lie my head on her shoulder.
Two more pairs of arms surround us, Tom and Steve.
The four of us sit in silence for a while, crying.
It took us a while before we stood up again. Steve drove the four of us to the Jones' house where a few people had already gotten together. It was a long day. The days after it seemed even longer. People came in and out of the house. I was mostly with Anne or Chris, comforting each other, going through each day as it came.
The picture Vic drew of us all was placed in the centre of the room. When I saw it for the first time I cried so hard. The picture proved how much he had wanted us all to go on with our lives. Vic and Jack as the centre pieces of the drawing, the two that had gotten and kept the group together. They were drawn with still a quite steady hand, but as he drew more and more people into the drawing you could see how much the illness had affected him. Still, his skill was remarkable, better than most people would be able to pull off on their best days.
The days after the funeral were the most tiring, trying to figure out how to get on with life, how to be a normal person. But as the weeks went on the pain lessened, it became less immediate, more a dull hollow feeling that didn't seem to go away.
Vic's parents had a quiet wedding, with of course a lot more crying. It felt weird but at the same time we had all seemed to get closer together. We understood why other sometimes didn't feel like getting out of bed or going anywhere.
Anne and Steve and Vic's mum and dad all moved closer, wanting to be nearer to the town everybody had grown up in. We also moved nearer to them. Nostalgia for the area of my home town pulling at me.
The happiness of Anne's pregnancy was for a long time overshadowed by Vic's death, but as she started to show more we were able to climb out of the pain. Anne and Steve had a beautiful baby girl and they called her Vicky. Vicky was a happy little girl and brightened everybody's day when they saw her. Which I did as often as I could.
The aftercare of the transplantation went fine and I could soon start going to university for a few days a week. Tom was more than a year ahead by then but that was more a positive than a problem since I needed to do a lot of catching up.
His death influenced us all greatly but as he predicted, we could go on with our lives. Because we had love and people that were close to us we could overcome his death.
I still sometimes wake up crying, and I know some of the others do too, but it is happening less and less. No longer is every day a struggle and life is getting brighter again.
Soon we will have a double wedding. Anne and Steve and Tom and I are all getting married at the same time. We've chosen Vic's favourite holiday place to celebrate it and his birth day as the date.
Vic is the one that through time has bound us all together and will do so forever in the future.
The airplane is leaving in about an hour, we need to hurry, we have a wedding to attend.