By: kf6tac (Brian) and Jamie Sommers
Synopsis: This story is about Landon and Jamie’s budding relationship. They’ve had their first date; Landon has told her he loves her, now they have to face their friends, their family and their own fears. Written from both Landon (written in bold print by kf6tac/Brian) and Jamie’s (written in italic print by Jamie Sommers) POV.
Last Sunday at Landon’s was one of the best days of my life. It seemed like every day I spent with him was one of the best days of my life, but when I got home that night I knew that things were going to be changing for the worse very soon. My health was deteriorating. I could feel it. I was becoming unnaturally tired and my body would get twinges of pain more and more often. I tried to forget about it all week long at school. I tried to put the pain out of my mind when he hugged me a little too tightly, or when we sat in one position for too long, but it wasn’t easy. The burden of guilt was eating away at my insides. It was time to tell him—it was just a matter of when.
My decision to tell him finally came on that first day of spring break.
“Reverend Sullivan. Jamie.” My father and I acknowledged my doctor with a nod, both of us afraid to speak.
“Your results came back and…”
“How bad is it Dr. Rosen?”
“It’s not good, Jamie. During your last round of blood work your white cells seemed to be maintaining their…”
I watched my father hang his head lower and lower as the doctor continued to tell me about my glum prognoses.
When I had first found out about my leukemia I just assumed that the Lord would find a way to cure me. I took it for granted that He would never take me away from my father. When I found out that the treatments ceased to be working, I thought my world had crumbled. I tried to be strong for my father’s sake. I tried to look at the positive side of life. I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish and set out to do them. If I hadn’t gotten diagnosed with cancer then I probably wouldn’t have done half the things on my list, right? No matter how much I told myself that this was what God had intended for my life I still couldn’t accept it. I couldn’t be dying.
One day though…I was getting ready for bed at my vanity table when I noticed my reflection. I was young…so young. I didn’t understand why this was happening to me. Why God had decided to put me through this. But I believed in the Lord and I believed in His plan for me, no matter where it took me. I knew God had a reason. I just hadn’t figured it out yet. I wiped the tears from my eyes and looked in the mirror again, this time I looked past my face…past my youth…my questions and searched my heart for the answers that were there all along: It didn’t matter how long I lived my life, but how I lived it and I knew I had lived it the best I could. I never questioned God’s choice for me after that… until He gave me Landon.
The coming Friday was our first day of spring break. It was kind of a relief to me actually; I really needed a week of not having to go to school and do homework and everything else. I figured it would be a good opportunity to go out and have some fun with Jamie.
As I pulled my car up to the front of her house to drop her off after school on Friday, I asked her if she wanted to get together with me later in the evening.
“So, uh, it’s spring break now… you wanna go out tonight, maybe catch a movie or somethin’?”
She seemed hesitant for a moment, almost like she was when I asked her out to our first date. Then she answered, “Well… I have some things I need to do in the afternoon, so how about I just meet you in town in the evening? Around eight maybe?”
“Yeah, that sounds great to me. It’ll give me some time to pick up my room anyways… my mom has been buggin’ me about it all week.”
She laughed a little bit, but something didn’t feel all there. I figured she was just tired though, our teachers had given us a lot of homework during our last week before spring break. Seemed to be a teacher thing. I really didn’t get it.
I kissed her on the cheek and sent her on her way back home. I pulled away from the curb and headed home, wondering what we could do when we went out.
“Well isn’t this a surprise?”
I looked up and saw my mom grinning at me from my door. She had just walked in on me cleaning up my room… in fact I had just plugged in the vacuum cleaner to vacuum my carpet.
“What, does a guy need a reason to clean his room?”
“I don’t know about other guys, but it seems like Landon Carter usually does. Or did it just get too messy for you to stand?” She was on to me. Might as well just give up the innocent-kid-cleaning-his-room routine.
“Actually… I was planning on going out with Jamie tonight.”
“Soooo you thought you should clean up your room so I couldn’t hold it against you, right?”
“Yeah, something like that,” I chuckled.
“Well I’ll let you get to it. No way I’m going to argue against my son cleaning his room. That Jamie sure is something… I could never get you to clean you room without poking and prodding every step of the way!”
“Yeah, she’s wonderful.”
“I know, Landon.”
My mom shut the door and I fired up the vacuum cleaner. I looked up at the clock on my desk, but eight o’clock just wasn’t coming fast enough. ‘Just two hours more,’ I told myself.
I met Jamie in town, as planned, at 8PM. She was a little bit late pulling up, but it wasn’t anything I was about to hold a grudge over. Traffic lights were stubborn – it happened to me all the time. She was bundled up in a big jacket, which kind of surprised me. The weather was still pretty nice, and even at night it wasn’t too cold.
“Hey,” I said as I approached her. I gave her a kiss, and then asked, “Have you eaten yet?”
She shook her head ‘no.’
“I haven’t either,” I said. “Let’s go get something.”
We ate in a little coffee shop/diner that wasn’t far away. Jamie seemed to only have taken a few bites of her food by the time I was done. “I’m not really that hungry,” she explained to me.
“Alright, but don’t be starving yourself, okay?” I said to her.
After we left the diner, we walked down the street. I was holding her hand like usual, but something was off… missing. Jamie, who always seemed so full of life, was acting very nervous that night. It was actually worse than our first day at school after our date. She was just kind of distant; we didn’t really talk at all as we walked. Before I could ask her about it, though, we passed by this club where I used to hang out with Dean, Eric, and everyone else who was “cool.” They must’ve been there tonight, because Tracy and Belinda were just on their way out the door. They stopped and so did we, and they just kind of stared at us for awhile. They kept right on walking without saying a word.
“That’s great. From citizen high to citizen low,” I said to Jamie.
‘Don’t hold it against them Landon, they’re just confused people,’ I expected Jamie to say. But she didn’t say anything at all. She just kept looking away.
“You worried about your college applications?” I asked, perplexed by her behavior.
She shook her head. “I’m not applying to college,” she said after some thought. We turned and walked down a small side street.
Her answer had me really confused. Jamie was so smart… she could definitely be the valedictorian this year. Why wouldn’t she apply to college? “I thought you said…”
“No,” she cut me off. “You assumed.”
Then I remembered that item on her to-do list about the Peace Corps. “You gonna take a year off, try the Peace Corps thing?” It seemed reasonable to me. Where else would she be going?
“No.” It was all she said, and she kept walking without looking at me.
I stopped, but she kept going. “Hey.” She turned around. “What’re you gonna do?”
There was silence for a while, and then she looked up at me. “I’m sick.”
I felt bad for grilling her with all my questions; I should’ve known she wasn’t feeling well. That would explain the big jacket too.
“I’ll take you home, you’ll be better tomorrow,” I started to say.
She cut me off again, before I had finished my thought. “No, no, Landon! I’m sick.”
I just stared at her, not really understanding what was going on. I mean… she had told me she was sick just a few seconds ago. I obviously heard her, because I had offered to take her home.
And then it hit me, and I felt this gut-wrenching feeling in my stomach. Her next words made me feel like someone had just taken a baseball bat to my head.
“I have leukemia.” Those were the hardest words I’ve ever had to say in my life. We stood there fighting back tears—Landon trying to digest what I had just dumped on him—tripping over his own words.
“No…you’re eight…you’re eighteen. You…you’re perfect.” He had this look on his face like he just didn’t believe me, like I was playing some kind of prank on him. I had to stop him from denying it.
“No, I found out two years ago and I’ve stopped responding to treatments.” I knew what was coming next and I couldn’t blame him for asking.
“So why didn’t you tell me?”
I tried to explain my reasons. “The doctor said I should go on and live life normally as best I could. I didn’t want anybody to be weird around me.”
“Especially you! You know I was getting along with everything just fine. I accepted it, and then you happened. I do not need a reason to be angry with God.” I ran. I couldn’t look at him any longer. I couldn’t stand there waiting for the inevitable to come. I could hear his unspoken words running through my head as I raced to my car. ‘Look Jamie, it’s been fun, but maybe we should stop seeing each other,’ and they repeated in my mind over and over again the closer I got to home.
“Jamie, you’re back early. Jamie? What’s wrong? What happened? Did Landon try something…”
“No daddy. No. It’s not…huuuh…huuuuh…I cahhhhnt breeeeeeeathe.”
“Sit down! Sit down!”
My father ran for the phone—I knew he was going to call an ambulance—thinking that I had a relapse.
“Ihhhht’s not…not…” I reached out and put my hand over my father’s and squeezed it. He looked down at me as reality finally struck.
“You told him.”
All I could do was nod.
“Oh, Jamie.” He knelt before me and held me while I cried on his shoulder. I told him everything that had happened.
“So you just left him standing there?”
I nodded ‘yes.’
He blew out a breath. “Jamie…” he shook his head and held me to his chest.
“I don’t understand daddy? Why did God do this to me? How could he show me love like this and then take it away when I need it the most?”
“I don’t know Jamie.”
I began to rock back and forth in my father’s arms. “I hurt Landon so badly daddy. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself for that.”
“I love him so much daddy. So much.” My words were running over my father’s.
“I know Jamie. I know,” he consoled.
“But the worst part,” I pulled back to look into my father’s eyes. “I used to think that nothing could be worse than death, but I was wrong. The thought of living without him—even for a day—is so much worse than death. It’s so much worse…”
Jamie turned and ran. My heart was screaming, ‘Jamie, wait, don’t go!!!’ But I couldn’t get the words out. I just stood there in shock, not sure what to do or think. I was sad, shocked, hurt, and angry all at the same time. I stormed to my car and just drove. For a while I wasn’t sure where I was going. I just drove, and I was angry. Angry at Jamie for not telling me. But that passed soon, and it was replaced by a new anger…anger that this would happen to her.
I realized I couldn’t drive all night, so I took a shot in the dark and drove to my father’s house. He was a doctor, right? I couldn’t remember what kind of doctor he was, I wasn’t old enough to really understand when he left and I never listened to my mother now when she talked about him…he had to be able to help, he just had to. When I pulled up to his house, all the lights were out. I walked up and pounded on the door.
“Dad, open the door!” I yelled, apparently at no one.
I turned to walk away, and then I heard the door open. ‘You always wanted to be a part of my life, now’s your chance to redeem yourself,’ I thought.
“I need you help,” I stammered out.
“What’s wrong? Are you okay?” ‘Yeah, yeah, now is not the time for the protective daddy routine.’
“It’s my girlfriend, Jamie she’s…” I could barely speak; it hurt me to think of it.
My dad just stared at me blankly, and I knew I had to say it.
“She’s got cancer, okay? And I need you to come and see her right now.”
‘Please don’t make me beg,’ I thought. ‘I just need you to help me.’
“Okay. Will you calm down…” there he went, stalling again. Don’t tell me…
“Can you help me, or not???” I didn’t have time for this. I needed someone who would help.
“I don’t… I don’t know her case, I don’t know her history. I’d have to talk to her physician… I’m a cardiologist, I can’t…”
‘So you can’t help me,’ I thought.
“No,” I shook my head. “I knew it.”
As I walked back to my car, I could hear his voice behind me calling out, “Wait, Landon, wait!” I didn’t care to wait. He couldn’t help me, and I don’t know who else in this world could.
I drove around a lot more that night, not knowing what else to do. I didn’t stay angry with Jamie for not telling me, because she was right. Much as I hated to admit it, I wasn’t the type who would’ve taken it well…I could barely handle it as it was. As I drove, I started to cry… at first they were angry tears, for what was being taken away from me. Then I thought about Jamie, and I cried again for all that she would miss out on. After those tears had stopped, I wondered what I was going to do now…I didn’t think I could stand to just be with her and watch her die. And I cried some more.
I opened my swollen eyelids to the glaring sun that streamed through the window. I stretched and felt pain shooting throughout my body. Catching my breath, I closed my eyes again and thought back to last night. Finally telling Landon the truth. Sitting up with my father and crying until the wee hours of the morning. Feeling like the rug had been pulled out from under me once again.
I walked upstairs to my room to get some clothes and made my way to the shower. I told myself that I had to eat something, ‘after your shower,’ but I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep it down. I walked into the bathroom and turned on the faucets to let it warm up, then began removing my clothes. I crossed my arms in front of me and grabbed the hem of my shirt to pull it over my head when I caught a glimpse of my reflection. My eyes were red and swollen, my cheeks were streaked with dried tears, my nose was red, my stomach was churning, my head was swimming and my heart was breaking. I looked exactly how I felt. At that moment I wanted nothing more than to shut off the shower and call my best friend, the only problem was…I lost him last night.
I finally pulled into my driveway early in the morning, about an hour before sunrise. My mom was up already; I don’t know if she had been up all night or what. I didn’t go inside the house though. I walked down by the water, where Jamie and I had taken our naps the weekend before. I stood there for a long time, almost until the sun came up, wondering what to do. I didn’t even hear anyone coming until he spoke up.
“Hey.” It was Eric. “Your mom called me. Talk to me man.”
he know? Or was he just here to settle this
friendship thing? I had much bigger things
to deal with at the moment…
“About you. About Jamie.” From the tone of his voice, I figured he knew. My dad probably told my mom after I left.
“What’s there to talk about? She’s the best person I’ve ever know.”
Eric was silent for a while before saying, “I didn’t understand.”
‘I know,’ I thought. ‘But it’s all right. You’re trying.’
“It’s okay, man.” I looked over at him for the first time in weeks. “It’s okay.”
We did our handshake, and I realized it had been even longer since we had done that. I was glad he came though. If felt like I had my best friend back.
After Eric left, I stayed out by the water and watched the sunrise. I remembered watching the sunrise with Jamie after our night in the cemetery, and I wondered what in the world I was going to do. Could I leave her now? The very thought caused my throat to tighten up and my eyes to tear, and my heart screamed “NO!!!” to me. So I couldn’t leave her. But how…how could anyone just keep on going like this was normal?
Then I remembered what I had said that day in English class.
“She’s saying that regardless of her ploy to bring them together, they still would’ve gotten together. They still would’ve found each other in spite of her actions, not because of them. Ya see, once they let their walls down they were able to see each other and all it took was for them to look…to really look at one another, to realize that there was something more between them…something special…beautiful. That they loved each other and the love they found is what’ll help them to overcome every obstacle they face in life. That they can make it through anything as long as they face it together. And that nothing will ever break them apart as long as they hold onto that love.”
Every obstacle. I had meant that message for Jamie when I said it in class… did I know what I was talking about? Was I throwing myself into something… I wasn’t ready for? I sat there, trying to straighten things out. Finally I came to a decision.
‘Ready for it or not, I’m not leaving her,’ I concluded. ‘I’m nothing without her. She is my everything.’
“Jamie? Where are you heading off to?”
“I need to get out of here for a while daddy. I just need to…I don’t know.”
My father hugged me and kissed my forehead, “Take all the time you need. I’ll be here when you get home.”
Neither my father nor myself thought it would be too smart for me to drive anywhere in my condition, so I walked. I wasn’t going anywhere in particular, but I found myself ringing Sally’s doorbell. I watched her walk towards me through the screen door and saw her face gradually changing the closer she got to me.
“Jamie,” she opened the door and didn’t quite look me in the face.
“Hi. Can we talk?”
She threw her arms around me and began apologizing for her behavior these past few weeks. “I’m so sorry. I should’ve never treated you and Landon so badly.” We talked for a while about my leukemia, about it’s progression and we cried a lot.
I wondered how she knew before I got to her house. Had she spoken to Landon? But she had heard about it from Eddie Zimmerhoff, who had heard it from Robin, who had heard it from Eric’s sister, who had heard it…the list was endless.
“So how is Landon taking this? He must be horrified,” she began crying again and grabbed a handful of tissues from the box.
“I guess. I wouldn’t know.”
“What?” She looked at me like I had two heads.
“I said I wouldn’t know how he’s handling it.”
“Because we broke up last night.” Saying that out loud sounded so wrong.
“Oh, Jamie. I can’t believe he would dump you at a time like this.” She didn’t say it like she was disappointed in him; she said it as though she were truly in disbelief. “He loves you. I mean it’s so obvious how much he loves you. No. There must be some mistake. I just can’t believe he would break up with you. Especially now. What did he say?”
“Well nothing actually…” I spent the next hour explaining to her what happened last night.
“Oh, Jamie you have to talk to him. He must be heartbroken. Call him.”
I shook my head, ‘no.’
“You have to,” she walked over to the phone and began dialing. I wanted to reach out and slam the phone down on the receiver, but even more than that, I wanted to hear his voice on the other end of the line. “Here,” she made to hand me the phone. “It’s ringing.”
I just stood there and looked at it. We both heard Mrs. Carter’s voice saying “Hello? Hello??”
“Uh, hi Mrs. Carter. This is Sally; I did the play with Landon. I was wondering…could I talk to him?”
“I’m sorry Sally, he’s not here.”
“Oh. Do you know where he went?”
“No. He just said he needed to do some shopping and left, but if you do see him…please tell him to call home.”
“I will Mrs. Carter. Thank you.”
“So what did she say?” I asked.
Sally gave me a look of pity and said, “He went shopping.”
I suddenly felt like I had that day at the lockers when he mocked me in front of his friends. Shocked that he was capable of doing something so…cold. I shook my head trying to clear it and said goodbye to Sally.
I got maybe an hour or two of sleep that morning before I was up again. Sleeping was not what I wanted to do at that time. I got dressed and told my mom I was going shopping, then I got into my car and left. I also had to stop off at the bank – I didn’t exactly have a lot of cash on me. Not enough to buy what I was looking for anyways.
As I was driving down the road, I suddenly decided to pull off… into the church parking lot. There were no other cars there, so I figured all the doors would be locked. I walked around the main building and into the back, where Jamie had told me there was a separate unit for the bride during wedding ceremonies. The building was smaller than the church, and shorter, but it was pretty kept-up and had flowers leading up to it. I sat down on the steps at the door, and I’m not sure what prompted me to do it but I started talking to God. It was the first time in my life I could remember having a serious conversation with Him.
“I know I don’t pray as often as I should, Lord… but I’m asking for Your help now. Please Lord, please just let Jamie stay. I love her, and it’s all because You brought her into my life. I’m sorry I didn’t recognize the gift that was right there in front of me all these years… please, just let me love her and hold her. If I could only ask one thing of You, Lord, in all my life… this would be it. Just Jamie.”
I sat there a little while more, thinking again about Jamie’s number one. I realized it then that sometime in the past week, it had become my number one as well. But would we ever fulfill our mutual number one? I looked behind me at the bride’s chambers, and I decided right there that I would do everything in my power to make it happen.
I got back into the car and drove to the flower shop. When I told the salesperson what I needed, she looked at me kind of funny and asked, “What, are ya decorating for a garden party or somethin’?”
I shook my head. “No, they’re for my girlfriend.”
“All of ‘em huh? Lucky gal…”
‘If you only knew,’ I thought. I let out a sigh, and the woman in the store realized that things weren’t all good and sunny in my world. She helped me load the flowers into my car, and then I was off again. I got to Jamie’s house and started laying the pots of flowers on the porch. I set the bouquets out, some on her porch swing and others on the railings. I had just finished and was walking to my car when Reverend Sullivan came up the street, talking with one of his neighbors.
“Landon,” he said when he saw me.
“I’m not going anywhere. Please tell Jamie that.”
On my walk home I began talking with God. Asking him to help me through this time of trouble. To help ease these feelings of loneliness and betrayal deep within me. ‘Please Lord show me how to free my heart from this pain and suffering. Help me to find peace once again. Show me Lord, please show me the way to…’ I lifted my head at that very minute to see the front door of my house completely surrounded by flowers. “Landon,” I sighed.
My father met me halfway down the walkway and said, “You had a visitor while you were gone.”
I could only shake my head in disbelief.
“He wanted me to tell you that…he’s not going anywhere.”
I hung my head in shame. I was so sure that he wouldn’t want me anymore—why would he—I just assumed we were through. I had spent the entire night worrying about Landon abandoning me that I didn’t notice I was the one that abandoned him.