Two years after the Epilogue
I look over at the Pacific Ocean and I can’t help but feel her every time I breathe.
When I was younger, before the cancer, before her leaving us, this was her happy place.
This was the place that she would bring me and my brothers and always have a big smile on her face. And it was an even bigger smile whenever my dad was home and he joined us.
Now as I sit here, looking at the water crashing into the sand, I wish that I could see her smiling just one more time. That I can hear her laugh while she plays catch with us, that I can just spend a small moment with her.
Most definitely today.
Why out of all the days in my life is today making me wish that my mom was here the most?
Because today is my wedding day and she’s not here to see it, to experience it. My mom isn’t here to see me walk down the aisle or even walk at my side while dad is at my other.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to wonder a lot more of what my life would have been like if I didn’t lose my mom so young. Would I be where I am today?
Would I have still been out of control as a teenager and used drinking as a clutch for something that I hid from her?
Would there still be an accident and the guilt that came from it hanging over my head?
Would Mason and I even be together right now, ready to say vows of forever?
I honestly don’t know and it’s not like I can turn back the clock and find out.
Got to love the fact that I’m thinking about this on my wedding day. My mind should be filled with happy thoughts and what the day will bring, not with what ifs that bring the mood down.
But I really do miss my mom.
Which is why I came out to the beach that is just a block away from our Santa Barbara hotel, at six in the morning to watch the sunrise. All so I can feel just a tad bit closer to her.
I should be getting a few more minutes of sleep because today is going to be a long one, but I can’t make myself get up and head back.
So I continue to watch as the water meets the shore and get lost in the songs of the ocean.
I sit on the sand as the sun rises completely and people start showing up whether to exercise, walk their dogs or to take in the ocean breeze.
I sit here until I know it's truly time for me to head back and start getting ready. I’m about to start pushing myself up, when a body sits next to me, sitting me back down.
A part of me knew that someone would eventually start looking for me. It wouldn’t have been Mason, because he was instructed by Lucy to not go anywhere near me until the ceremony. So I thought the role of coming to fetch me would fall to Carter or Dylan, or even my dad and Elena.
Never did I think that it would be Aiden.
In the years since my big brother has come back into my life, things between us have changed. They are definitely better, we’re definitely closer than we were five years ago, but at times it still feels a little hard.
There are times where it still feels like he doesn’t care about me and will abandon me again. They are far and few but they are there. We’re working on it though and hopefully with more time, we will be the siblings we once were.
“I figured I would find you here.” Aiden says, looking out to the ocean.
“Let me guess, Lucy woke up and told you I was missing and demanded someone come find me.” My best friend is very much capable of doing that.
Aiden lets out a small laugh. “No. I actually couldn’t sleep and went to check if you wanted to go for a walk with me, but I thought you would already be here.”
“Why couldn’t you sleep?” I ask, even though a part of me already knows the answer. I don’t look at my brother as he find words to give me an answer.
Eventually he lets out a sigh. “I’ve been feeling her everywhere since we got here and it seems to be more prominent when I close my eyes and try to sleep.”
It's not hard to figure out who the her in the scenario is.
“Yeah, I’ve felt the same way.” I mutter out.
Aiden is silent for a little bit, before he speaks again. “I’m going to take a wild guess that that is the reason why you decided to get married here.”
I could lie and tell him something out of the blue that could be partly true. I could tell him that I chose this place because of the beaches but I could have the same beach feel back in North Carolina.
Might as well tell him the truth.
I give my brother a nod, not taking my eyes off the water.
“I would have done the same thing.”
We go back to being silent and when it’s broken, it’s done by me.
“We’ve been without her longer than we had her.” Tears start to form in my eyes and I try my hardest to keep them at bay, but they end up slipping.
“And I’m a year away from being the same as she was when we lost her. That’s just fucked up.” Aiden says and I can hear the pain in his voice.
“Most of our lives have been fucked up.” And they have but we’ve also had some amazing moments in them.
A dog comes by to where we are sitting and lets both Aiden and I pet them before they go back to their owner. Its as the dog is running away that I turn to look over at my brother.
His eyes are red and there are tears running down his face and he’s not doing anything to wipe them away.
Aiden, being a Marine, tries his hardest to keep his feelings in check. Today might be an exception, though.
“Shouldn’t you be saving those tears for the wedding ceremony?” I ask, reaching up and wiping away my own tears.
Aiden chuckles, wiping away at his eyes. “Yeah, I was just thinking about how we’ve come a long way and how proud mom would be of you. She would have been so damn happy that you are marrying Mason. Her and Phoebe would be over the damn moon to be connected that way.”
I give him a smile. “You really think so? Do you really think she would be proud?”
Aiden looks at me for a long minute, not saying a word, just watching me. “Yeah, Jordan. I really do think so. You’ve accomplished so much and I’m not just talking about school and your career. You’ve accomplished so much personally and mentally. She would be so proud of you. Just like dad is, just like Elena and Dylan are. Just like I am. I know that I don’t tell you enough, but I’m so proud of you and so happy for you. You changed your life for the better and look at where you’re at. Anybody would be a fool not to be proud of you.”
A sob escapes from my throat and the tears start to flow out a lot more violently.
I’ve spent years thinking that my brother didn’t care about me, that he didn’t love me enough to be in my life. Now here he is on my wedding day, telling me how proud he is of me and I realize that I’ve been waiting a long time to hear them.
“She would be proud of you too. I am.”
With tears coming from both of us, Aiden wraps his arms around me and we hug each other as tightly as we can. I don’t think that we have ever held each other this tight before.
I don’t know how long we hung for but when we pull away, our tears are almost gone and we both let out a small laugh.
We take a few more minutes to collect ourselves, before Aiden is suggesting we head back to the hotel.
“You ready?” He asks, as we leave the sand and touch the pavement.
“Ready for what?”
“Ready to make Mason your forever?”
I smile at my brother and before I answer his question, I look back to the ocean.
When I came here earlier, all I wanted to do was feel my mom. Feel that she was here with me today.
Now as we get ready to walk the few blocks back to the hotel, I realize that I got my wish.
I feel here.
She may not be in person, but she is here today with me and she will watch me marry the man of my dreams.
I look back to Aiden and give him a nod. “I've been ready to make Mason Hawke my forever since we were kids and building sand castles together.”
Aiden smiles, taking my hand.
“Good. Let’s go get you married then.”