I hesitated to pick up the phone and dial the number in my head. I didn’t know why. The worst thing that could happen was he’d ask what happened and decline to go. I sighed and picked up the phone. Pressed call.
“Hello?” His voice sounded wary. It had been a while since I called instead of texted.
“Hey, it’s me.” I said stone-cold, and then paused for a drastically long time.
“What’s wrong? You could have just texted me.” Jace chuckled. It sounded like he was outside.
I sighed again and sat back in my chair, “I can a favor to ask you.”
“Depends on the favor.” He responded less light-heartedly.
I closed my eyes, “I have a funeral I need to go to. Can you go with me?”
“Who’s funeral?” He asked concerned, “And wouldn’t it be weird if I came?”
I knew he would ask this stuff. “No. I actually need someone to go with me. It’s complicated.”
“Okay…when is it?” I finally breathed as if I had been holding my breathe the entire time.
“Two weeks.” I responded, “I’ll drive down to your place and we can leave from there. Ok?” I wanted to get off the phone as soon as possible.
“Ok.” He stated and I hung up the phone before he could say anything else.
I had someone to go with. That was all that mattered. My sister wouldn’t be all that happy he was who I decided to ask, but she did tell me to have someone go with me. Who else did I trust enough?
On the day of the funeral, I wore a plain black knitted dress. I drove down to his house and parked on the street. When I rang the doorbell, his father greeted me with his little cousin.
“I’m sorry for your loss.” His father said quietly after I politely said hello.
“Thank you.” I responded, looking towards the hallway where Jace walked out. “Hey.”
“Hey.” He forced a smile.
“Can I use your closet mirror?” I asked, ignoring the fact that it’s been a long time since I was over. I remembered where everything was.
He nodded and I walked in, comfortably placing my purse down on his bed and grabbing my makeup. Jace walked in a moment later and leaned on the wall by his door. Walking back and forth from his desk, where I place my makeup, and the closet mirror, I started getting ready almost ignoring his presence.
“You know you can use the bathroom mirror.” He suggested.
I shrugged, “The counter always gets in the way. I only use my mirror to put on make up. It’s just easier.”
I could feel the tension and see the worry in his dark eyes, but didn’t want to confront it.
“So whose funeral is it? Are you sure your parents will be all that pleased to see me?” He asked a little annoyed, which was expected since I deliberately ignored all his texts concerning this.
I faced him after finishing my eyeliner. “They’ll be there, but you’ll be fine.”
I forced a smile and continued to paint my face. Taking a step back, I examined myself and brushed down my dress. I had to admit, I looked a lot better than I usually did. Taking a step forward, I put on a darker burgundy lipstick and then began putting things away.
“I’m going to leave my makeup bag here and just take my purse. Do you mind if we take your car? We’re meeting my sister there.” I casually said zipping up my bag.
He agreed silently and we were off.
The car ride was silent. The music played softly. It was tense but it was expected.
When we got to the funeral house, my sister’s boyfriend was waiting at the front door for me. He saw me in the car as we drove by and came to get me.
“Can you stay in the car for ten minutes then come in and find me?” I asked, not daring to face Jace as my sister’s boyfriend got to my side.
“Just do it. Please?”
“Ok.” I had to get some things done before Jace walked in.
“I’ll be fine. Victor is here too.” He nodded at my sister’s boyfriend.
“Why is he here?” Jace asked.
“He is.” I said before getting out of the car. I had to last.
As Victor and I walked in, fighting my tears became a lot harder. The pictures were in the front and the flowers were against the walls surrounding the room. Some of the music my parents always listened to while I was growing up played softly. Some food was set up in the backroom for those who came to help, and guests who decided to stay longer.
I couldn’t help but cry. Victor held me as my sister walked up behind me. I needed a man in my life right now. I met my sister and began preparation for the ceremony. We were the lead roles. We had to do a good job and be ready.
When Jace walked in, he finally figured out whose funeral it was. I saw the shock in his eyes. I saw the pain, the worry, the fear. I couldn’t look away until his eyes met mine. My heart broke for him.
He walked up to me and immediately wrapped his arms around me. “I am so sorry. I am so sorry.” He kept repeating. “I’m sorry…” Tears filled his eyes as they filled mine.
I looked beyond Jace and saw my grandparents. I called out for them in their native language and cried. They came up and my grandmother held me telling me it was going to be okay and that she was sorry I had to go through this.
My aunts and uncles arrived and the ceremony began. When it was time for the burial, my sister held one photo as I held the other next to her and led the way. The picture frame was suddenly very heavy. It hurt my arms and I began to clutch it for dear life. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was holding my mother’s photo as my sister held our father’s. They were gone. And I had no one in my life.