The tiny black letters on the page in front of her blurred and blended together as Jocelyne tried to blink back the tears in her eyes.
She’d retreated to her room as quickly as she could after the burial service, desperate for some sort of escape from all the sadness around her. For Jocelyne, escape usually came in two forms – running or reading. The first option didn’t seem likely in her dress and heels, so instead she’d fled to the safety of the familiar dog-eared pages she now held in her lap.
Jocelyne just wished she’d picked any book but this one.
He nodded. “She’s gone, Mel.” Lucas’ voice shook as he spoke and his tears finally began streaming down his cheeks. “I never got to tell her I’m sorry, or say goodbye…” Or keep my promise…
“Jocelyne?” A tiny voice called from the doorway.
The girl glanced up from her great-grandfather’s book, wiping a few tears away with the back of her hand. “Hey, Gus.” She smiled gently at her little brother.
“I told you she’d be in here.” The little boy called over his shoulder.
Jocelyne heard her uncle’s booming laugh even before he stepped over the threshold. “So you did.” Stefan smiled at his nephew. “How’d you get so smart, Auggy?”
Gus shrugged. “Maman?” He guessed.
Stefan ruffled the boy’s blonde hair, chuckling softly. “I’ll meet you back downstairs in a few minutes, okay?”
With a tiny nod, Gus retreated back into the hallway and down the stairs to rejoin his family below.
“Hi, Onkel Stefan.” Jocelyne smiled sadly as her uncle sat beside her on the tiny blue sofa. “Before you ask, I’m fine.” She promised him. “I just… needed to get away.”
“I know.” He replied warmly. “And I wasn’t gonna ask, don’t worry.” Stefan gave her a small smile. “What are you reading?”
“Great-grandpa’s book.” Jocelyne rose to her feet and crossed to the bookshelf, returning the thick tome back to where she’d found it. “I thought reading it again it might be a nice way to remember him, know what I mean? That old story meant so much to him.” She crossed back to rejoin her uncle. “But it was a lot harder than I thought it’d be.”
Stefan nodded, his face solemn. “It’s gonna be rough for a while.” He said softly. “For all of us. I wish I didn’t have to go back home so soon…”
“I’m just glad you made it here in time to say goodbye.” Jocelyne’s voice shook slightly as she recalled the horrible scene at the hospital just a few nights before. “Omi says she thinks he was holding on until you got there.”
The corner of Stefan’s lip curled into a tiny smile. “Y-yeah. She told me.” His voice was thick as he spoke. “Mama’s always believed in stuff like that… And who knows? Maybe she’s right.”
We’ll never know. Jocelyne felt her eyes begin to well up with tears once more. Because we can’t ask him. He’s gone.
Neither one of them spoke for a few moments. It was Stefan who finally broke the silence, clearing his throat softly before he spoke. “I know you want to be alone right now, so I’ll make this quick.” He promised her. “I just wanted the chance to talk to you alone… There’s something I want to give you. And I really think my grandfather would want you to have this too.”
Jocelyne raised an eyebrow curiously as her uncle reached beside him, retrieving a small object from between the cushions. Had he been carrying something when he’d walked in? Jocelyne could not remember.
“Here. For you.”
“A notebook?” She asked uncertainly.
“A journal. Just like the ones your Papa and I have.” He explained.
“And Oma.” Jocelyne’s voice was small. “And great-grandpa too.”
Stefan nodded. “And now, I think it’s your turn.”
Jocelyne bit her lip as she looked down at the beautiful blue journal. It all felt like so much pressure.
“Why me?” Her first instinct was to suggest he give it to his own child, but Jocelyne knew her cousin was much too young to start keeping a journal. And Auggy probably is too… “What about Luc?” She asked.
To her surprise, her uncle laughed. “Jocelyne… Be honest. Would your Bruder ever voluntarily write anything?”
She couldn’t help but smile. “Not unless it’s quarter notes.” Jocelyne admitted. Lucas was always so wrapped up with his silly band that he had no time for anything else, it seemed. Especially not writing. Words had always been her forte, not his… Though she was used to reading words, or speaking them. But writing?
“I’m just not sure if I’m a writer, Onkel Stefan.” She continued, shrugging slightly.
“Anyone can be a writer.” He assured her. “I mean, look at your Tante with her blog!”
Jocelyne couldn’t help but scoff. “You mean that weird site where Clara posts all her ranting and teenage angst?” She giggled. “Yeah… not the same thing.”
Stefan shrugged, a soft sigh escaping his lips. “You don’t have to write if you don’t want to.” He said seriously. “I just thought now would be as good a time as any to get the tradition going again. Your Papa laughed when I told him, of course. You know your Vater.” His lip curled into a smile. “He’s never really been one for tradition… And you don’t have to be either.” He assured her. “I just wanted you to have it. Just in case.”
Jocelyne paused for a moment, thoughtful. “Thanks, Onkel Stefan.” She said at last, rising to her feet and pulling him into a warm hug.
“Make sure you keep that thing hidden.” He smiled as he pulled away from her. “Clara will flip if she finds out I didn’t bring something for her too.” Stefan gave her a small wink.
“The secret’s safe with me.” She laughed.
“I’d better head back downstairs…” Stefan paused for a moment. “Want me to tell them you’re not feeling well?” He offered. “You know Auggy’s gonna tell everyone you’re hiding away up here…”
Jocelyne shook her head. “It’s fine. I’ll probably head back down in a few minutes anyway. I just needed a little break… It’s so hard to see everyone so miserable.”
“Believe me,” her uncle sighed, “I know. Take your time.”
Jocelyne smiled. “Thanks.”
Tradition… Jocelyne turned the word over in her mind a few times. She’d never really given it much thought before. Like her uncle had said, it was never something her father had put much stock into. And, now that she thought of it, neither had her mother, really.
That was always great-grandpa’s thing. She realized. And Onkel Stefan’s too, I guess.
But what about her? Jocelyne wondered. Could it be her thing too?
I guess it couldn’t hurt to try…
Welcome to Generation 4! And… Goodbye Alex 😥 I wanted to write some kind of sappy goodbye for him here, but I’m not really sure what else to say except that I love him so much and I will miss him and I cried when he died 😦
I like to think he’s with Lucas and Mel and Krystina right now eating popcorn and sitting back to watch what sort of misery the descendants of the family go through next 😛