Dawson said goodnight and went upstairs to his bedroom. He still had the bedroom heíd slept in during his childhood, mainly because it held so many memories of Joey. Joey had been gone for a long time now, but here, in his old room, he could still hear her voice calling him an idiot. He could still feel the sensations of her lips touching his for their first passion fuelled kisses. He could still imagine her sitting in his cupboard when she only wanted to talk to him. This room had seen so many things. He still found it hard to believe how easily heíd given up on the house when his family moved away from Capeside. Heíd been hysterical over losing Joey, but he hadnít stopped to think about how much heíd miss his room. In some ways, it was easier to live without Joey but have memories of her than to know she was there somewhere but not having a link to her.
"Joey, why arenít you here now?" he said aloud to the silent and empty room. "I need your help tomorrow. And so does Hannah. You can see it in her face. All her friends have mothers, but she doesnít. And although you never even met her, she misses you almost as much as I do. And I donít know how Iím going to get through tomorrow. Iíve got to say goodbye to my baby girl. Sheís so young, Joey. How on earth is she going to manage? It was bad enough sending her off to Harvard every term. And then, she was in Boston and coming home every holiday. But now? When will I see her next? When she enters that room, sheís going to have to stop being my daughter, a little girl who hasnít got a mommy. Sheís going to have to be an independent woman.
"Joey, do you remember the fights we had in this room? Even as kids, we used to bicker over which video we were going to watch, whether Pacey would ever hand his homework in on time or even which of us deserved the most allowance. I guess that, even at eight years old, we werenít your usual kids, eh? But with adolescence came more serious disputes. Like when I found out about my motherís affair. I never imagined that youíd know before me. I came to you after hurting Jenís feelings. You were the only one I felt I could talk to. And after pinning all my hopes on you, Iím sure you can understand how shocked I was. And I never really apologized for the way I reacted. Iím so sorry, Joey. For every time I let you down. Because I know that you were always too good for me. And Iíll never forgive myself for your death. It was my fault, and I wish that I could have died instead of you.
"Iím gonna make a confession to you, Joey. I considered more than once the possibility of joining you wherever you are now. Times have been hard for me. Losing you was the most shattering thing that could ever have happened, but having to care for a baby? I relied on my parents so much. Bessie found it too difficult to help me, so she and Bodie and the kids moved away. When Hannah was six months old, my parents had to go back home for a month. That month was the hardest. I loved the silence of the house, being able to do as I pleased as long as the baby was clean and happy. It was just me and the baby. I only left the house to get more diapers and food for her. I rang out for takeaways sometimes. Mostly, I just didnít eat. When my parents came back, they were horrified. But they never really understood the depth of my grief for you. You were all that mattered.
"Pacey tried to get through to me. He helped me realize how out of hand things had got. I was down to 110 pounds before I turned around. But even after that, I still thought about ending it. I persuaded myself that Hannah was better off as an orphan than without a mother. At least then a proper family might take her in. But one day, when Hannah was 5, she told me she loved me. She said that I was her mommy and her daddy, and her aunt and uncle all rolled into one. I burst into tears, and that was the point at which I knew I had to carry on.
"And I have carried on. You should see me, Joey. Iím 52 years old, and Iím in my old house in Capeside. Iím in my old room. My parents are in their old bedroom. Itís just like old times, but I know youíll never climb up through that ladder again. Not that that stops me hoping, you understand. Itís surreal. Mom did the washing up after dinner. I keep imagining youíll come round the corner, jump out on me and plaster me with kisses. God, I know what Iíd do if you didÖ Actually, scrap that. Knowing my health, Iíd probably have a heart attack or something. Thatís one reason Iím looking forward to dying Ė when I meet with you again, youíll still have the body of a twenty-seven-year-old. Just promise youíll still love me. Iíve gained a few inches of insulation around my waist. Iíve gone gray. But I know youíll be perfect, because you always were.
"Anyway, itís almost midnight now. I need to sleep if I want to have enough strength for tomorrow. Oh God. How am I gonna do this? Oh well, Iím gonna have to let it happen one day. Take care, Jo. I love you."
Dawson put on his pajamas and climbed into his bed, tears filling in his eyes. There was a tap at the door.
"Come in," he said quietly. The door opened, and there stood Hannah. The sight of his beloved daughter was enough to make Dawson cry. She looked just like her mother. Dark hair that was wavy one day and straight the next. Her eyes always expressed how she was feeling, but also contained a sense of mystery as if she knew something you didnít.
"Dad? Why are you crying? Whatís happened?" she asked, her voice clearly worried.
"Nothingís wrong honey. I was just talking to your mom, and then I realized how much you look like her."
"I wish she was here," Hannah admitted. She walked in through the door and sat on the side of her fatherís bed. "I know how strange that must sound, but even though I never knew her, I know sheís a part of me."
"And she will be a part of you forever, honey. I know Joey got fed up with people telling her how much she looked like her mother, but you really do. And thatís wonderful. Because as long as I have you, I have her with me."
"Thank you Daddy."
"So, sweetie, what did you come for?" Dawson asked, attempting to change the subject before he really broke down.
"I was just finding it hard to fall asleep, and I thought I heard your voice. So I thought Iíd find out what you were doing."
"Nerves?" Dawson guessed. Hannah nodded, and then smiled.
"Iíve been looking forward to tomorrow for years, but Iím so worried. What if something goes wrong?"
"How about we go downstairs and make some cocoa and watch a movie?" Dawson asked smiling. Hannah nodded, smiling at her father.
About two hours later, Dawson switched off the Television, which had been showing ET, and went up to bed, leaving Hannah asleep on the couch.
The next morning, Dawson was sat on the chair on the porch of the house, looking over the creek, when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around to see his mother.
"Hey, honey. Hannahís ready to go. But I thought Iíd better warn you. She looks so much like Joey, itís had me in tears." Dawson nodded.
"Thanks, mom. But itís OK. I know Joeyís watching us today."
"She always is, Dawson. Always." Just then, the door opened, and Hannah came through. A noise caught in Dawsonís throat. His mother hadnít been joking.
"Are we ready?" Hannah asked timidly. Dawson nodded wordlessly, and stood up. He took his daughterís hand, and walked with her down to where the car was waiting.
Gail Leery took a few moments before getting into the car waiting for her to watch as her son and granddaughter walked down he path, Hannah holding her long white dress up to stop it trailing on the ground.
All through the night Iíll be standing over you
All through the night Iíll be watching over you
And through the bad dreams Iíll be right there, baby
Holding your hand, telling you everything is all right
And when you cry, Iíll be right there
Telling you you were never anything less than beautiful
So donít you worry
Iíll be your Angel standing by
-Angel Standing By - Jewel
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