Chapter   Eight

“Brittany wake up honey,” Linda said as she woke her granddaughter up on the morning of her Mother’s funeral.

“Is today the day I get to say goodbye to Mommy?” Brittany asked rubbing her eyes.

“Yes, it is.” Linda answered, “Come on, you need a bath.”

Brittany easily got in the bathtub and was cooperating very well.

“Grandma,” Brittany asked.


“Did you cry?” Brittany asked as she closed her eyes letting the water rinse off her head.

“Did I cry when?” Linda asked helping her granddaughter out of the bathtub, and wrapping her in a towel.

“When Daddy called you to tell you about Mommy.” Brittany answered as she walked into her bedroom with Linda right behind her.

Linda sat down on the bed, “Yes, I did cry. I was very sad. Did you cry?”

“Well, Daddy doesn’t think I did, but I did.” Brittany answered as she hopped up on her bed the best she could.

“Did your Daddy cry?” Linda asked knowing he did.

“Daddy cried a lot.” Brittany answered. Linda got her granddaughter dressed in a navy dress and brushed her hair, Brittany didn’t want it up.

“Daddy,” Brittany said as she walked into her Dad’s room, as she waited to go see her Mommy.

“Yes, Britt?” AJ asked as he stood in front of the mirror, straightening his tie. He was wearing a black suit, and tie, and had on a pair of glasses, but with a clear lens no off the wall colors.

“I talked to Mommy last night.” She said as AJ turned and knelt down facing her.

“I heard you.” AJ said straightening her dress.

“Why didn’t you come talk to her? She’d like to talk to you.” Brittany said staring into her Dad’s dark eyes through his glasses. “I’d like to talk to Mommy, too.” AJ answered, “But, I think Mommy is here for you.” He said as he felt his chocolate eyes melt with tears once again.

“Why?” Brittany asked as she took a hold of her Dad’s suit jacket.

“I think Mommy is your guardian angel.” AJ answered. “She’s going to watch over you.”

“No, Mommy said she was here to watch both of us.” Brittany answered, “She told me.”

“Britt, I love you,” AJ said as he hugged his daughter, “Come on it’s time to go say goodbye to Mommy.”

AJ, Linda, and Brittany drove to the funeral home, and went inside being the only ones in the hall.

AJ looked to the front of the room, and saw the casket. He squeezed Brittany’s hand tightly.

“This is it,” he said looking down at her, and then at his mother-n-law.

Linda hugged AJ; “You’re going to make it. Do you want me to take Brittany outside for a minute and wait for Kevin and Kristin and them while you go see her?”

“Please.” He said as he knelt down to Brittany, “Go with Grandma and go wait for Uncle Kev, Aunt Kristin, and Grandma Denise.”

“O.K.,” she said as she took a hold of her Grandma’s hand.

AJ watched as they went out the door, and sat on the bench outside. He took a deep breath and walked towards the casket where his wife wearing the soft yellow dress lay.

Tears formed as he approached her.

“Hey babe,” he said as sniffled, “I miss you. We all do. You have no idea how hard this is for me. Knowing I’ll never see you again, I’ll never hold you in my arms, or embrace you with a kiss. Knowing you won’t see our daughter go off to school, or her first dance, or her first date…when she’s 30.” He made himself snicker a bit; “You won’t see what a great person she becomes. I still can’t believe you’re gone. Four nights a go we lied in bed, you wrapped in my arms, you telling me how much you loved me, and were never going to leave. I lay in bed, and remember all the wonderful nights we had, and how I’ll never have anyone as wonderful as you. I love you so much.”

He was crying pretty hard, when the rest of the guys, and Linda, Brittany, and Denise walked in.

“Daddy, is that Mommy?” Brittany asked as she let go of Kristin’s hand. “Yes,” he answered as he took her in his arms; “Do you wanna say goodbye?”

Brittany shook her head yes, and AJ started towards the casket again.

“Mommy.” Brittany said softly. “I don’t know if you know this, but I love you.” She cried.

AJ took his free hand and wiped the tears from his daughter’s face, “She knows, Britt, believe me. She knows.” He kissed her forehead.

AJ went and took Brittany to sit down, sitting next to Nick and Mandy.

“I’m going to go up there.” Kristin said standing up hitting Kevin’s knee as she stood.

“I’m going, too.” Kevin said as he took her hand and walked with her.

They approached Roxanne’s casket. And Kristin broke down.

“Kev, she’s gone.” She said through tears. “My best friend is gone.”

She glanced over at the picture of the two that they had gotten taken the day she died.

“Rox, I know you can’t hear me, but I know you know this…I love you buddy.” She said sadly.

“I do, too. And your every wish will be done.” Kevin added.

Kevin looked down at his wife and saw the pain in her eyes. “Come on sweetie.”

When they walked back to the others more people had come on. Some of the dancers that had been on previous tours with the boys, Roxanne was one of the dancers along with Kristin.

Each of the guys had walked up to see Roxanne, and had a very difficult time doing it. People were coming by the minute saying their good-byes, and consoling AJ and Brittany.

After many hours of tears, and many hugs and sadness. People were to be seated so the ceremony could begin.

AJ, Brittany, Denise, and Linda all sat in the front row, Kevin, Kristin, Brian, Leigh Anne, Nick, Mandy, Howie, and Claudia sat in the row behind them as they all cried.

AJ had asked Kristin to give a speech, and she did so.

Kristin slowly got up from her seat beside her husband. She walked towards the podium, and looked down at the paper she had in her hands.

“We all know what a wonderful person, Roxanne, was and how she always did things to make everyone else happy. There were only two things that really made her happy; her wonderful husband, and great daughter. They were her pride and joy, she didn’t care about the car she drove, the house she lived in, the clothes she wore, or the places she went. All she cared about was AJ, and Brittany. I remember the day Roxanne and I started dancing with the boys, and how we hit it off. AJ came to me, and said ‘Kristin, it’s her. She’s the one.’ We did everything together, not caring what it was we did, but we did it. I knew her for ten years, and became best friends. There was always ten of us, wherever we went Claudia, Leigh Anne, Mandy, Howie, Brian, Nick, Kevin, AJ, Roxanne and myself. They were always fun times, over the years we all became one big family. Not having her around now, it’s a feeling like I’ve lost my little sister, and a part of me is gone. We had many wonderful years together, and then it all goes away so fast.” She glanced over at her friend, lying in the casket, and then looking at AJ, “Some people lost more than others. One losing a wife, one losing a great mother, one losing a daughter, and one a daughter-n-law, three losing a sister, and eight losing one of their best friends.” She paused as she took a deep breath, “I just hope she knows that we are here for AJ, and Brittany, and we won’t let anything happen to them. Her last request to Kevin and I was to keep AJ and Brittany safe. She knows that will be done. Her every wish will be done.”

Kristin stepped down from the podium, and tears filled her eyes. She walked to AJ and Brittany, who sat in front of her, and hugged each of them.

“I love you Britt.” She said as she hugged her goddaughter who was crying.

“I love you Aunt Kristin.”

She went to hug AJ, and he looked so sad, “Thanks Kristin.” He said.

The priest got up to say a few words, and told AJ if he wanted to say anything, now was the time.

AJ let go the hand of his daughter, and walked to the same place Kristin stood. He looked over at his wife, and tears began to fall.

“Everyone knows the day is going to come when they get a phone call, one that’s going to change the rest of their life. I never wanted that day to come, I never wanted to hear those words. When you do hear those words, you sit there in shock, not knowing what to think. Knowing the one you live for isn’t there anymore. Knowing your life is never going to be the same. You lay in bed at night asking yourself, ‘Will I be O.K., will I get through this?’ And then Brittany, you wonder how she is going to handle the situation.”

AJ paused as he looked at Brittany as she clung to Denise. He saw a smile come to her face; he wondered what she was so happy about.

“And her telling you ‘Mommy said everything will be O.K., and she’s guarding us.’ It really makes you think, is she really here, but not telling you. Seven years a go, when we vowed, ‘Till death do us part’ we didn’t think it would come so fast. But, I’m going beyond that vow, and never parting with her. These have been the best ten years of my life, and not having her around is going to change all of that. She’s never going to see our daughter grow up, and become as great of a person as she was. But, if she is watching over us, and can somehow hear us now, we love you.”

AJ sat back down as he held his daughter in his arms, and kissed her head softly. The priest got up, and brought the ceremony to an end.

Everyone row, by row, person by person got up and said his or her final farewell before it was all over.

AJ took Brittany’s hand and slowly walked with her, to say goodbye.

“Am I going to say good-bye to Mommy?”

AJ knelt down to her, in front of everyone, “And anything else you want to say to her.”

He picked her up, and at sight of her they both cried. AJ held her tightly in his arms, knowing this was going to be the hardest day of his life.

“Mommy, I love you, and I know Daddy does, too. Hopefully you’re going to watch me, like you told me you would. I hope you have fun being an angel, I’m going to miss you. Good-bye. Mommy”

AJ wiped the tears from her eyes, and kissed her cheek.

“Hey Rox, I hope you know how much we miss and need you right now. Brittany says you’re watching over us, I hope she’s right. You have no idea how empty all of us feel since you’ve gone away. Nothing is the same, and never will be. I’m pretty sure everything will be O.K., and I just wish you could be here to see our daughter grow up to be as great of a person as her mother was.” He said as he felt his tears slide down his face, “I wish for the day we’ll be together again. I love you baby.” He said as he slowly walked away from the casket and everyone else then getting the chance to say good-bye.

They all stood around the casket, as it sat on the risers to be lowered into the ground. Kevin stood there right next to AJ and had Kristin’s hand tightly locked with his, Brian and Leigh Anne also had their hands locked with eachother’s tightly. Howie and Claudia stood in shock, along with Nick and Mandy. AJ stood there holding Brittany’s hand ever so tight.

You could see how painful this was for everyone, especially AJ. He couldn’t stop the tears from falling, none of them could but he was the worst. The time came, and AJ handed a flower to Brittany,

“Do you want to put this with Mommy?”

Brittany shook her head, yes, and started towards the flower-covered casket with her Daddy.

AJ lifted her up and watched her place it lightly on the center of the casket. After he put her down she looked up at him,

“Daddy, what do we do now?”

He gave her a very sad look; “I really don’t know Honey. I really don’t know.”

They hugged for a second, and AJ looked up with his eyes that were full of tears, and saw Linda standing there holding a flower and crying.

“Are you O.K.?” he asked as he hugged her.

Chapter Nine
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