Family Affairs Ch. 22byD.C. Roi©
Passion In James County XIX: Family Affairs
The day after the plane crash, Matt's Uncle Ezra and Aunt Serena arrived from Seattle to take care of him and help with the funeral arrangements. Because his parents were killed in a plane crash, there was a delay before the wake and funeral could take place but, finally, the ceremonies were held.
Matt thought learning that his parents were both dead was awful, but he found out that the funeral proceedings, if anything, were even more horrible. First there were the meetings with the funeral director, and deciding what he wanted for funeral arrangements. It hammered home to him the fact that he'd never see his parents again.
Then came the wake, which involved hours of sitting in the funeral home while people filed through the room past the two closed caskets in which his parents' bodies lay. He lost count of the number of people who told him how sorry they were, what wonderful people his parents had been, that they'd do whatever they could for him, and what a brave young man he was.
"Matt, I'm so sorry," a female voice said as the young man sat at the wake, with his head down. He looked up. Mary Forrester stood there, along with Rick, and her husband. When he saw that Mr. Forrester was there, Matt felt even more despondent. He had been so busy with the funeral arrangements he hadn't been able to contact Mary since the crash. Had she and her husband reconciled? He didn't know that Mary had called the night the crash happened because Mrs. Garber, who was always terribly absent-minded, forgot to tell him.
"Yeah, Den, I'm real sorry, too," Rick said. He surprised Matt by giving him a hug. Matt liked that, but he'd have preferred one from Mary.
Mary desperately wanted to hug the young man, but she was still feeling guilty about the fact that she'd slept with her husband, so she held back. The Forresters moved on, and the numbing parade of mourners continued.
The funeral wasn't no more bearable. At the service, Reverend Garber rambled on for a long time, not saying much of anything. Once again, after that service ended, Matt was subjected to an unending line of people filing by, telling him how sorry they were and how brave he must be.
Mary, Rick, and Mr. Forrester were at the funeral, and at the cemetery. Matt looked at them standing there, a family group, as the cold wind blew across the cemetery and felt as if his whole world had ended.
The Forresters did come to the house after the funeral. Mary made a point to take Matt aside. "If there's anything I can do to help you, Matt, please call me," she said. "I wish there was something I could do to...to make this less...less painful for you."
Matt couldn't bring himself to ask if she'd gone back to her husband. First of all, it wasn't really the time to ask that kind of question, and second, he feared what her answer would be. What was he going to do? He'd never felt more alone in his life.
Another week passed. The Saturday after the funeral, Uncle Ezra and Aunt Serena sat at the breakfast table with Matt. "We're gonna have to have you come and live with us, I guess, Matt," Uncle Ezra said. "I understand that they're reading the will day after tomorrow, and then we gotta get back to Seattle. I mean, I only got so many days of vacation I can take. And we gotta get back and make sure your grandmother is OK, too."
"Yes, Denny, your uncle Ezra and I certainly will be glad to make room for you in our home," his aunt added. "We've always thought about you like a son, you know."
Matt didn't know what he was going to do, but moving to Seattle wasn't it. He only had half a year of high school left. All his friends were here. If he had to change schools now, it would probably seriously mess him up. And he'd been offered a job with the local newspaper as their full-time photographer. He'd been planning to attend the local community college part-time and take business courses. All of those plans would be spoiled if he had to move now.
"I don't know," Matt replied. "I'm almost done with school and I really want to graduate with my friends here. I'm not sure I should transfer now."
"But, Matt, you can't stay here alone!" Aunt Serena protested.
"Yeah, and we sure as hell can't stay here with you," Uncle Ezra added. "I gotta job and we got our house and all."
"I don't know, I just don't know," Matt continued, "this is my home. I don't want to leave."
"I unnerstand how you feel, kid, but I don't see that there's any way around this," Uncle Ezra said firmly. "You're gonna have to come back to Seattle with us. And we're flyin' out Sunday."
Damn! Matt got up and went to his room. Why? Just when it looked like his life was going good did, things have to fall apart? Dammit, he didn't want to go to Seattle. He didn't know anyone there and he didn't like it there. It rained all the time. He was eighteen and in this state that meant he was an adult. He didn't care what his uncle and aunt wanted, there was no way he was moving to Seattle!
Except for attending the funeral ceremonies, he hadn't been out of the house in several days. He needed to get out, to get some fresh air. He grabbed his coat and headed downstairs.
"I'm going for a walk," he told his uncle and aunt, who were in the living room, watching TV.
"Don't be late," his aunt cautioned, "dinner will be ready exactly at five. Your uncle Ezra gets grumpy if he doesn't eat at five."
"I don't much give a shit if Uncle Ezra gets grumpy or not," Matt thought as he walked down the street not sure, exactly, where he was going. Eventually he found himself on the street where Dianna Hillman lived.
Dianna was out, sweeping snow off the sidewalk, and saw Matt before he saw her. She knew what had happened to his parents, and felt sympathy for him. She'd been meaning to call him, but didn't because she didn't know what to say to him. Now there he was, walking down the street, toward her.
"Hi, Matt!" she called.
Matt looked up, saw Dianna, smiled, and waved.
"Hello!" he called back. They met at the end of the walk to her house and Dianna gave him a hug.
"I'm really sorry about what happened to your folks, Matt," she said.
"Thanks," Matt replied.
"What are you going to do now?" Dianna asked.
Matt shrugged. "I don't know," he said. "My...my aunt and uncle...they want me to go and live in Seattle with them."
Dianna felt a chill. "Oh, no! That would be awful!" she said.
"Tell me about it," Matt replied bitterly. "I have a half year of school left and all."
"I hope you don't have to move," she said.
Matt nodded and said, "I'm not moving. No way!"
"Good, when are you coming back to school?" she asked.
"I don't know," he said. "I need to get this business with my uncle and aunt taken care of. If I can get that done, I should be back next week."
"I hope you can get that settled," Dianna said.
"Well," he said, "I guess I gotta go." He looked at her and smiled. "It was nice seeing you again, Dianna."
"I missed seeing you, too," she replied. "And I really am sorry about your folks."
Dianna stood on the sidewalk, watching Matt walk down the street, until he turned the corner and finally moved out of sight.
"I don't want him to move away," she thought. Then she turned and went into her house.
Matt kept walking, almost aimlessly. Now he was on Rick's street. There was Rick's house. Mary...Mrs. Forrester...was in there. So was Mr. Forrester, he believed. Head down, staring at the sidewalk in front of him, Matt walked on by.
Rick happened to be looking out the living room window as Matt passed. He saw his friend, ran to the front door, opened it, and went out on the porch. "Matt! Hey! Den!" he yelled, but Matt kept on walking, as if he hadn't heard.
"I wonder what's the matter with him?" he asked his mother, who'd heard her son's yells and joined him on the porch.
"I don't know, honey," she said softly. "He's suffered a terrible loss. He just needs time to get over it."
"You know," Ricky turned and hugged his mother. "I was feeling sorry for myself because you and Dad were splitting up. You guys may be getting a divorce and all, but at least the both of you are alive."
Mary hugged her son back. "Why hasn't Matt called or come over?" she wondered. She wanted so badly to go to him, to offer him comfort, but she wasn't sure how his aunt and uncle would react. Or, for that matter, how Matt would.