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Letting Go

Melissa Lajoie

"Where am I?" asked Claire.  She looked around and saw several huge clouds and tons of little, fluffy clouds that looked like she was supposed to use as stepping-stones.
     "You are in heaven my dear.  You arrived a few minutes ago," said the lady.
     "I'm sorry.  Did you just say that I'm in heaven?"
     "Yes.  Don't you know what happened?" asked the lady.
     "No.  I'm hoping that I'm having a dream.  Who are you?" replied Claire.
     "Oh yes, I'm sorry that I didn't introduce myself.  I'm Melinda, an angel."
     Claire looked at Melinda like she had lost all her marbles.  She couldn't believe that she was hearing this.  Melinda was sitting on a big, fluffy cloud flipping through a magazine.  She looked fairly young, considering Melinda had no wrinkles on her face and her blue eyes were sparkling.  Her light brown hair was pulled up in a bun and she was wearing a long white dress.  Claire had to look twice to make sure, but Melinda had big, glowing wings on her back.  Claire's head was starting to spin from all that she was taking in.  Melinda looked up at Claire a little worried.
     "Do you have any questions?" asked Melinda.
     "I don't know, I'm just trying to take all this in," replied Claire.
     "Well, why don't you sit on this cloud right here next to me and you can rest," said Melinda nicely.
     "Okay, why not?  What are you reading?" asked Claire, looking around.  The place was bright with white clouds, the blue sky, and a yellow gate shining in the distance.
     "Oh, People magazine," said Melinda a little embarrassed.
     "Why are you reading magazines about people who are alive?" asked Melinda confused.
     "Oh, I like to watch people on Earth and you know how dramatic life can be, especially those celebrities.  I find it interesting to read about the stars.  Did you know that Tom Cruise is dating Penelope Cruz?" asked Melinda, excitedly.
     "No, I hadn't.  I'm not sure what I know right now," said Claire as she leaned back on her fluffy cloud.  Sitting on a cloud was how she always imagined it would be.

     "Hey Claire! Wait for me," said Jamie, rushing down the hallway.
     "Watz up Jamie?" asked Claire.
     "Nothing.  How did you do on that chemistry test?" asked Jamie as she dodged some students.
     "Okay, I guess.  Science really isn't my thing.  How did you do?" asked Claire as she approached her locker.
     "Oh, I'm pretty sure that I failed it.  What are you doing tonight?" asked Jamie.
     "I don't know for sure, but I thought we could go to the movies and then head over to the café for some pie," replied Claire.
     Claire and Jamie left Beulah Heights High School, happy that it was finally Friday.  The day was so beautiful with the sun shining brightly and a nice gentle breeze whipping through their light brown hair.  Claire and Jamie climbed into Claire's blue Cougar and drove towards Claire's house in El Camino.  They arrived at Claire's cream colored house with a big wooden door.  The girls walked into the white kitchen, grabbed an apple from the fruit bowl, and headed upstairs to Claire's room.  Jamie had been coming over to Claire's house since they entered high school three years ago.  Jamie was an only child and both her parents worked for top-notch law firms and were never home, so Claire invited Jamie to come over to her house.  Claire's mom had her own computer business and she ran it from their home, so she could be home for Claire and Claire's younger sister Brittany.  Her father worked as a business manager for the bank in town.
     They said hello to Claire's mom and sister who were sitting in the western-style living room watching Rugrats on television.  Claire told her mom about the chemistry test and said that they were going to head to her room and decide what movie they were going to see tonight.
     Claire's room was painted light blue with puppy pictures and a bulletin board with pictures of friends and poems hung on her wall.  They sat down on her bed covered with stuffed animals and Beanie Babies.
     "So, do you want to see Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt tonight?" asked Claire as she flipped off her brown sandals and curled up on the bed.
     "I don't know, that's really a tough call considering how hot both of them are.  I guess I would have to go with Brad tonight," replied Jamie.
     "Okay, I'll call everybody and see if they want to come with," said Claire.
     "Hey, did you see Kyle today?  He was looking so good with his blonde hair spiked, wearing his khakis and a black T-shirt," said Jamie, giggling.
     "Yeah, I saw him between classes today.  He was talking to that stupid Marcy girl from math," replied Claire as she rolled her eyes.
     The girls continued to talk about the cute guys that went to Beulah Heights, then moved on to what they should wear tonight.  Claire decided to wear her dark jeans and a red spaghetti strap shirt with a jean jacket and black boots.  Her brown hair was pulled back into a clip.  Jamie had on khaki pants and a purple button-up shirt with her leather jacket and brown sandals.  Her hair was curled and hung loosely around her face.
     Claire and Jamie left the house at a quarter till seven to pick up their friends.  They arrived at the theater just before the previews started and watched Ocean's 11 and were extremely giddy that Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and George Cloney were all in one movie.  The girls were totally jealous of Julia Roberts.  After the movie, they drove over to Ann's café for some strawberry cheesecake.
     Once they were done with their wonderful cheesecake, they decided to take a stroll on the river walk and see if there were any cute guys.  The river walk ran right through the heart of the city.  It had little clothes shops and expensive restaurants. The people can ride the ferries up and down the river.  A lot of people like to come to the river walk to watch the sun set over the mountains, talk with their friends, and listen to the free bands.  The girls walked around talking to people they knew until 11:30, because Claire had to be home at midnight.
     They were crossing a street heading back to Claire's car when a black Thunderbird came whipping around the corner at high speeds.
     "Claire, watch out!" screamed Jamie.

     "So, do you remember anything from that night?" asked Melinda.
     "The only thing I remember was hanging out with Jamie," replied Claire.
     "Well, you were hit by a car on your way back from the river walk.  The doctors did all that they could, but you lost so much blood," said Melinda, feeling sorry for the young girl.
     "I didn't want to die.  I was only seventeen and I had so much more that I wanted to do. I wanted to go to college back east and Jamie and I planned on getting an apartment together.  I wanted to get married and travel to Europe.  This can't be happening to me.  My family and friends loved me.  I didn't do anything wrong.  Why was I ripped away from all that?" asked Claire, her voice trembling.
     "I'm really sorry Claire, but it was just your time.  I know that you didn't want to die, that is why you are here with me.  I'm going to help you understand what happened that night, so you can go all the way into heaven and become an angel," said Melinda.
     "It couldn't have been my time.  Who's going to watch over Brittany?  She's only eight years old and it's my responsibility to see that she's taken care of.  I need to be there to screen all the guys that are going to want to date her when she's older.  She counts on me.  And Jamie, she's my best friend in the whole world.  She knows everything about me.  She's practically my sister.  Who's going to make sure she's not lonely while her parents are at work?" sobbed Claire.
"Speaking of parents," continued Claire before Melinda could open her mouth, "I love my parents.  They've given me so much and I'm their little princess.  Don't you understand?  So much pain and grief is going to be caused because of me.  Please don't take them away from me.  They are everything to me," wailed Claire.  Her whole body was shaking by now.
     "I know that this is hard to take in, but I'll be here for you.  You will see all of them again," said Melinda, hugging Claire.
     "I'm going to see my family and Jamie again?" asked Claire, as tears still fell from her watery, green eyes.
     "Yes.  I'm going to take you to Earth and show you that everyone is going to be okay and so will you," said Melinda.
     "When do we go?" asked Claire, excited that she was going to see everyone again.
     "We will leave in just a moment, but before we go I need to explain some things to you.  First, no one will be able to see or hear you.  You will only be able to see and hear them.  Also Claire, we're going to your funeral first, and I want you to be prepared for that.  This is sometimes very hard for people to see themselves dead and people talking about them.  I will be with you every step of the way," she told Claire.
     "Okay, I understand," Claire replied.
     Melinda took Claire's hand, and they jumped off their clouds and starting floating towards Earth.  Claire's mind started to get blurry and dark.  She woke up in front of St. Mary's Church.  Melinda, still holding onto Claire's hand, led her up the stairs and into the church.
     Claire's family was sitting in the first pew.  Brittany was sitting next to her mom, her head in her mom's lap.  Claire's father had his arm around his wife, and tears were flowing from their eyes.  They couldn't believe their little princess was gone.  They were being consumed by grief.  In the pew behind them, Jamie and several of her classmates were sitting next to each other, holding each other's hands.  Some of them were just staring blankly in front of them in shock of what was happening.  Jamie was crying so hard that her blue eyes were now dull and red.  Jamie sat staring at Claire's casket in disbelief.  Claire wanted to walk up to Jamie and tell her that it was just a bad dream and that they should head to the mall, but Claire knew she couldn't do that.
     Claire couldn't watch Jamie anymore, so she tried to focus her attention towards the front of the church.  Claire's white casket was there.  The priest was standing behind the casket saying silent prayers.  The church was full of family and friends that had known Claire since she was a baby.
     Claire and Melinda inched towards the front of the room and leaned against the white, cement walls.  Claire was having a hard time taking everything in, and tears started to well up in her eyes as she saw her family and Jamie's pain stricken faces.
     "I don't know if I can do this," said Claire, as she started to cry.
     "I know this is difficult, but I'm right here and I won't let go of your hand," said Melinda, as she squeezed Claire's hand.
     The funeral started with the priest saying the psalm reading "The Lord is My Shepherd" and blessing Claire's body.  Afterwards, Claire's parents came forward and spoke about Claire as a baby and how she would put anything in her mouth including the family fish.  They talked about Claire's bright smile and her warm personality.  They told everyone what a wonderful daughter and sister she was and that she would be greatly missed by everyone.
     Jamie came forward next.  She had written her speech down, and her hands were shaking.  Jamie had tearstains on her face.  It broke Claire's heart to see her family and her best friend like this.  Jamie said that Claire was the sweetest person she had ever met.  She told Claire's family and friends that Claire took her in and treated her like family.  Jamie talked about their adventure to the malls and how they never left without having a French vanilla shake from Baskin Robbins or how madly in love they were with Kyle.  Jamie started to cry as she talked about how she could tell Claire anything and that no one knew her better than Claire.  She loved Claire like a sister and that she would miss her forever.
     Jamie took her seat, the priest said a few more blessings, and people slowly began walking up to say their last good-byes to Claire.  Many people kissed Claire on her forehead and left roses on top of her casket.
     Claire wanted to get closer to hear what everyone was saying.
     "I'm so sorry, Claire.  I wish this had been me.  I love you," sobbed Jamie as she put a single red rose on the casket.
     "Jaime, it's okay.  Please don'tÿcry.  I love you too," cried Claire, but Jamie just walked away.
     "I can't do this anymore.  I'm causing all this suffering and pain to the people that I love most in the world.  Please, can we go?" pleaded Claire.
     "I'm sorry, Claire, but this isn't your fault.  We'll head outside so you can have some time to gather yourself, and then we'll go to the cemetery," replied Melinda.
     The cool wind hit Claire's face as they walked outside.  They waited for her family to come out.  Once everyone was in their cars, Melinda took Claire's hand and they started to float upwards.  They arrived at the cemetery, and Claire saw her gravestone.  "A loving daughter, sister, and friend.  Rest in Peace."  They lowered the casket into the ground as tears fell from everyone's eyes.  Claire couldn't stand much more of this pain.  It was making her heart ache to see everyone like this.
     "Now where?" asked Claire, annoyed.  She didn't understand why she had to follow her family around.
     "We're traveling to your house for the reception," replied Melinda, ignoring the annoyed tone in Claire's voice.
     They arrived at Claire's house.  There were white daisies everywhere in the house.  Several tables with food and drinks were set up in the dining room.  In the living room was a big poster that said, "We will miss you Claire," signed by many students from Beulah Heights.  Claire's family walked around the house, forcing smiles and hugging everyone, trying to take in all the "I'm so sorry" comments.  Claire looked around the room and noticed that she didn't see Jamie anywhere.
     "Where is Jamie?" asked Claire, concerned.
     "I'm not sure.  I saw her walk in with your family, but I lost track of her.  Maybe she's upstairs," offered Melinda.
     Claire and Melinda went upstairs.  They heard crying coming from Claire's bedroom.  Claire walked in first and Jamie was sitting on Claire's bed, the bedspread was still wrinkled from the other day.  Jamie was flipping through the scrapbook they each made for each other last summer.  It had pictures from their birthdays, dances, and vacations to the mountains, as well as just about everything they had ever done together.  Claire sat next to Jamie.  Jamie was looking at the pictures from the trip they took last summer to Las Vegas.
     "Oh Claire, I'm going to miss you so much," sobbed Jamie.
     Claire looked up at Melinda with tears running down her face.
     "Please, let me talk to her.  Just let me tell her that she will be okay, that I'll always be there for her," pleaded Claire.
     "I can't do that," Melinda said, sadly.
     "Please.  I promise that is all that I'll ask for," said Claire, trying again.
     "Okay Claire, but you only have five minutes and then we have to go," said Melinda.
     Claire touched Jamie's hand, and Jamie jumped.
     "It's okay, Jamie.  It's me, Claire."
     "Claire?  What's going on?" Jamie asked, startled and confused.
     "I'm still gone, but I'm allowed to talk to you for a few minutes.  I want to let you know that I'm all right.  Please, don't blame yourself for this.  The car came out of nowhere and there was nothing you could've done.  Don't cry, Jamie.  I heard your speech at the funeral.  I always thought of you as my sister, also.  Watch over my family for me; make sure no one messes with Brittany.  You were the best friend anyone could have asked for," said Claire, as she hugged Jamie.
     "I don't know if I can do this, Claire.  I feel lost without you.  What am I going to do without you?" replied Jamie.
     "You can do this.  Remember that you have to look over Kyle and make sure he doesn't hook up with Marcy.  I'll still be watching over you.  I've got to go, but everything will be alright," said Claire.
     Jamie smiled and they hugged once more, then Claire slowly disappeared.  Claire woke up on a cloud.  Melinda was looking over her.
     "Are you okay?" Melinda asked.
     "Yes, I think so," Claire replied.
     "So why did you do this?" asked Claire.
     "I'm your guardian angel, and it's my job when you die to make sure you understand fully what happened to you, so you can move onto the after-life.  Since you were born, I've been there to watch over you and offer silent advice and support.  Anytime you needed to talk, I was always listening.  I was always right beside you, giving you a gentle push in the right direction.  Once you die, you come to me and I make sure you're all right, that you come to an understanding about your death, and let go of your body so you can enter the after-life.  You would only be allowed into the after-life after you stopped fighting your death.  Now that you have, you will be welcomed through the gates, and it will be your turn to watch over people," said Melinda, smiling.
     "Thank you for doing this, and for letting me talk to Jamie," replied Claire.
     "You're welcome.  The reason I allowed you to speak to Jamie is because you are now her guardian angel.  It will now be your responsibility to watch over her and lead her in the right direction.  See, I was both of your angels before, but now that you are here, you will take my place.  I figured that would make you happy," said Melinda.
     "That would make me so happy.  I'm ready to go through the gates," said Claire.
     As soon as she said this, glowing white wings appeared on her back and Melinda and Claire walked through the gate and sat upon their fluffy clouds to watch over Earth.

     Claire sat on a cloud looking down at Earth when Melinda came and sat next to her.
     "What are you doing?" asked Melinda.
     "I'm watching Kyle ask Jamie to prom," said Claire, as she looked up at Melinda, smiling.


I want to thank everyone in my creative writing class for their suggestions.  I want to thank my roommates, Linds and Tiff for reading my stories and making changes.  To my parents for their love and support and my sisters, where some of the details of the stories came from.  To the rest of my family and friends for letting me ramble on about my stories, thanks.  Last, but not least to Emily, where my inspiration to write these stories came from, thanks for all the crazy adventures!

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