I’ve been tortured and endured so much pain in my life, I never expected that it could get worse—ever. I was wrong…So wrong. Last night I felt the worst pain imaginable. My Hana died in my arms. The glue to my soul was taken from me in death. The pain I felt in that moment was the worst feeling I have ever endured, and it has yet to end. I want it to end.
This morning the coroner gave me a sedative after I went after my gun for the second time. He wanted to call the paramedics and have me placed on a seventy-two hour watch. I threatened Kaliq and Casey when they held me down for the sedative. I don’t remember much after that. I do know that when I woke up I was in Pear’s bed, and my eye was puffy. This afternoon Kaliq wouldn’t allow me into my own bedroom, and he even ordered me to give him the key to my weapons cache. The fear I saw in his eyes—and the pain—were all it took for me to hand over the keys to the apartment and my guns.
Kaliq allowed me access to my room just shy of twenty-four hours after she died. I didn’t know what to expect when I walked in the room. It was empty. Cold. And smelled of nothing. Hana was gone. Her voice and laughter I loved to hear when I walked up the stairs was missing. Her smell of cinnamon and roses was missing from the room. The taste of her sweet lips that usually followed a quick kiss was no longer on my tongue. And the feeling of her hugs, smacks, and caresses were gone. Nothing would be the same again.
I headed straight for my dresser in the back of the TV area. I searched my sock drawer for the silk pouch I hid. Where the pouch was a white little Post-it was stuck against the hardwood. I pulled it off and noticed Hana’s scribble. Don’t. You. Dare. I broke down and fell to my knees. I cried hard and loud. I screamed and held my chest while I crumpled the note. I heard my door open, and Kaliq was there by my side.
The note dropped from my hand, and I buried my face in my knees. Hana took away my last chance to be with her.
“Dad,” Kaliq whispered and pulled me into his arms. I didn’t know how he could be so strong in this time, but he was. “It’s okay, Dad. It’s all going to be okay.”
I didn’t believe him. How could anything be okay anymore? I wanted my Hana, here, with me. I needed my Moneypenny.
“Dad, we’ll get through this.”
I shook my head. There was nothing left for me. “Where’s my gun?” I asked.
Kaliq shook his head.“I can’t. I promised Ma, and I am not breaking that promise, Dad.”
“I don’t care. I need her, Kal. I need her like a James needs M-m-m” I cried. I couldn’t even say her name.
“Moneypenny,” Kaliq finished. He held me tighter, “We all need her, Dad. And we need you.”
Kaliq stood momentarily and grabbed the photo album that Hana finished only a week ago. He sat back down with it and handed it to me. “Ma told me when you started to beg for a way out, to make sure you look at this. Please, for me. Read it, look at it, and promise me you won’t go jumping off the roof of some building or something stupid. I need you.”
I held the album to my chest. On Christmas Day—my last Christmas with Hana—she gave me the album as a gift. It was a photo album she had been working on since she and I were married. I knew nothing of this album, and I was surprised how much of our lives were inside it. She eventually finished it after we came home from saying goodbye to all her children and grandchildren. I opened it. I hadn’t gone through it much since she gave it to me. It hurt now to see the bracelet I gave her on the first page. It was our first memory together.
I flipped through page after page of our lives together—and apart. She kept a journal of the twenty years we were apart and some of the pages she has written made it in the album, along with pictures of Oni, Jahi, and Kaliq growing up. There were few pictures of my sister, Leslie as well. Kaliq sat with me as we admired and remembered the photos. He laughed at a few of the pictures and told me stories of what had happened in them. We read some of the entries from her journal.
Today is Kaliq’s fourteenth birthday, Parker. He’s so quiet these days. I think he has a crush on Riddle. He won’t admit it to me or to Oni, but I’ve noticed the way he stares at her. I really wish you were here to give him advice. I know your charm would help him win her over. He’s not like you when it comes to flirting with the girls. Maybe he’ll figure it out. He has time.
Parker, I’m pregnant. I don’t know how it happened—well I do, but it was not planned. I still dream and hope the day you will return. Scott wants to marry me. I’m not sure if I want to. I don’t love him like I love you. There’s another thing I found out today. You’re alive. Kaliq showed me what he’s been working on for a long time—his book. He named a character after an “awesome spy” he found online. You. I don’t have the heart to tell him that you aren’t dead, and that he just found his father. I don’t want him to go searching for you. It’s too dangerous. I’m not sure what to do with all that has happened today. The news of my pregnancy, a proposal, and the news that you are still out there has left me confused and afraid. Come home to me, Parker. I need my James Bond.
Parker, this is my last entry in this journal. You are at a bar with your son right now, drinking. I should have known you went back to drinking. Today, I came home from the most stressful morning at work to find my son beating the living crap out of a guy—you. When I saw your face, my heart leapt out of my chest. I never believed I would ever see you again. I wanted to kiss you. I wanted to hold you. I wanted my life to go back to twenty years ago when you didn’t leave and we were still together. When I climbed into your arms earlier, just before Scott interrupted us, I planned on more than a soft kiss. I wanted you. I still do. I don’t know what I am going to do about Scott, but I know I don’t want to lose you. Help.
I turned the page over after finishing reading dozen of letters and looking at dozens of pictures of their lives while I was gone. I wiped my cheek. Hana never once forgot me. I was always in her heart, just like she was in my heart. The pictures after followed our story right where we left off. The picture of the wedding at City Hall made me smile. She didn’t want a huge wedding again. She just divorced Scott two days before, and she wanted our marriage to continue. We signed some forms, said a few quick words—“I do”—a quick kiss, and we were married once again.
The pictures of the last twenty-six years filled the rest of the book. Everything we did, and all that we were to each other was shown in the book. Kaliq and reminisced about the pictures of his kids with Hana and I. There were a lot of those. Hana didn’t want me to forget that it wasn’t just about her, but it was about our family. I knew that was the purpose of this book, but I really didn’t care. I wanted my Hana. As we neared the end of the book, and the pictures of the last year, I cried harder. Each picture I noticed a slight change in her. On the last page there was a picture of Hana and I from three days ago sitting on the back swing. Kaliq had taken it. Under it the caption read, “Together Forever.”
I turned the last page to find an envelope. I almost forgot about it. Hana had written a letter to every single family member. I never opened mine. “Have you read yours?” I asked Kaliq as I picked it up. My hands shook with it in my hand. I wasn’t going to read it with Kaliq in the room. I wanted to read it in private.
“Yeah,” Kaliq said with a soft voice. “New Years Day. I didn’t want to read it after she…Well, you know. I didn’t want it to be my last memory of her. In the letter she made me promise to keep you from killing yourself, and if I failed she would haunt me.” He smiled at me, and I tried to return the sentiment. I doubt I would ever smile again. “Riddle’s letter said the same thing almost. Most of the letter was how proud she was of me, and she apologized for never telling me about you when I started to write the Delta Nine books.”
I stared at the envelope. Her words were inside, words that she wanted me to read. “I don’t know if I am ready.”
“Open it. Read it. Maybe it’ll help you, Dad.”
“Can…can you give me some privacy?”
Kaliq nodded and stood, “I’ll be downstairs with the kids and Riddle if you need me or any of us.”
Kaliq left me alone. I sat there and stared at the envelope for a while and pondered what was inside it. I opened it carefully, mostly to procrastinate the inevitable. I pulled the letter out and unfolded it. I took a deep breath and began to read it:
My dearest Parker,
If you are reading this, I know I am dead. Knowing you, it’s probably been just hours or days at the most. I know I’m not alive. I know you well enough to know you won’t read this letter until I am gone. I’m sorry. I never wanted to leave you. I always thought you’d be the first to go. I could survive your death. It would be hard, but I’ve had more practice thinking that you were dead.
If you are reading this, and I am hoping you are and that you haven’t done anything stupid like kill yourself, then I have a favor to ask. Now, if this is Kaliq, and your father was stupid enough to kill himself, I want you to know he won’t go unpunished, I will make sure of it. But Parker, if you haven’t eaten your bullet—and yes, I know all about that bullet—then I will ask you to read this letter first before you do anything so drastic.
I have never been a selfish person. My children have come first for most of my life—that is unless you were in my life. Nothing mattered though when you weren’t there, except for my children’s safety and wellbeing. I kept them safe, and protected when their father kept us all safe from the world’s greatest threats. Even as I write this letter, I am pushing away my selfish needs and putting my kids needs first. Would I love for you to be with me in the afterlife? Absolutely. But, my children still need their greatest protector—you. I can’t allow you to kill yourself, and end it without asking you to consider what would happen to our kids and grandkids.
Parker, they need you. I know you need me, I know that you are probably holding your gun as you read this and wanting your pain to end. But people still need you. Put down the gun. Be strong, and be brave. Don’t allow your emotions or pain to win. Fight for me. I fought for you, it’s your turn. I took your bullet and gave it to Kaliq. I told him that if you asked for it, to give it to you. But it’s up to you if you want to live for your family, or die for selfish reasons. I am asking you to live for them. Don’t be selfish. It’s not who we are—it never was who I was. I know it hurts, Parker, but you need to be there for them. Live for them. Protect them. And love them. Your turn will come soon enough and we will be together, just be patient. I love you, my James Bond.
I closed my eye and cried silently. Her last wish for me was to live out the rest of my life and to be with my family. “Why,” I cried out. “Why would you do this to me? I need you. I need your strength. I only ever survived this long because of you.” I was ready for my gun, but I couldn’t. Be strong. I needed to be strong, be brave, and keep myself in check. It hurt standing up. It hurt to walk. It hurt to place the letter and the album back on the dresser. My heart ached in worse pain then when I lost my eye—still if I can survived that, I can survive this. I left the room, down the stairs to the garage, and through the door that led to the rest of the house. I found my family sitting on the couch watching some comedy movie.
“Mind if I join you,” I asked.
Kaliq turned his head enough to see me, he nodded. Pear and Penny moved to the floor and I sat next to Kaliq. Pear turned to me, “You want some popcorn, Grandpa?” His eyes were red and puffy. I noticed he wasn’t alone. All of their eyes and cheeks were puffy and red. It wasn’t just me who lost Hana, but it was everyone, and only together were we going to be able to survive. She was the glue to this family. She kept this family going all these years, and it was my turn to pick up the pieces. I would live for her, and for them…for now.