Sometimes you can have everything. Even if it's gone. Short one shot for my friend. With a TWIST.
Pete tried to swallow and keep his composure, tried to concentrate on breathing in, out, in and out again. But his breath came out in short, strained gasps that made him panic and wonder if he would pass out as the room started to spin. He held onto the beam attached to the roof next to him, wanting nothing more than for someone to wrap their arms around him and smooth his hair, tell him it would be alright. He longed for someone to fix his tie as always, because he could never get them perfectly straight, and he wanted them to tie his cufflinks that he could barely tie because his hands were shaking so much. Earlier that morning, Patrick had had to tie them for him, fussing around him like he was the grown up and Pete was a kid.
"Sit still, Pete. You'll get your suit all crumpled." Patrick said, standing in the doorway and shaking his head.
"I don't care." Pete said, shifting around, trying to keep his composure by biting his lip.
"Come on, Emma would want you looking nice, right? You know she wouldn't want to be shown up today by you turning up looking like you've never held an iron before."
"Daddy! Look at my dress!" Pete's daughter Amy bounded through from the kitchen, carrying a piece of paper and a handful of crayons as she did a little twirl in front of Pete in the living room.
"You look great, honey." Pete said, doing his best to smile and ignore the fact that every inch of Amy's face screamed the details of her mother's face. He couldn't get her out of his head, and if he didn't, he would never make it through the day. Amy beamed at him and turned around to Patrick, holding out the piece of paper for him. He took it and looked at it, turning it every angle to distinguish what it was.
"I drew you, Uncle Patrick!"
Patrick tried to hide the horror from his face as he looked at the scribble of brown and black, with a blob of red on the top of his head for a hat. He noticed Amy had drawn the picture a lot rounder than she had the ones of Pete or Emma, who seemed to be stick figures compared to this. He knew it wasn't personal, what did three year olds know about drawing? But he couldn't help but feel embarrassed.
"That's... amazing, Amy, well done sweetheart." Patrick said, grinning and giving her the thumbs up, feeling dumpier than ever in his suit. He tugged at the bottom of his shirt and loosened his tie, clearing his throat.
Hey, Amy, why don't you go put your crayons away? We'll have to leave in a minute." Pete said from the couch.
"OK, Daddy." Amy said, and danced past Patrick back through to the kitchen, leaving the room in silence. Patrick put his drawing down and walked over to Pete, about to sit down beside him.
"Pete..." He started, but was interrupted by a car horn outside in the street. Pete stood up quickly, his hands shaking as he ran his hands through his hair.
"Not now, Patrick, we gotta go. Amy, come here please, hon." He said, walking past Patrick and stopping suddenly as Patrick was at his side.
"I can't do this, Patrick." He said, his voice wavering as he inhaled some air.
"Yes you can."
"No, I can't."
"You can." Patrick soothed, putting his arm around Pete and leading him gently but firmly to the door. "You're gonna do the best you can today and you're gonna be great."
"Nothing will change, will it, Patrick? After today?"
Patrick smiled nervously at him.
"I think your whole life's already changed."
"Daddy! Your hair is messy." Amy said in the car as they made their way to the church. She ran her tiny hands through his hair and tried her best to flatten it into the hairstyle Emma always did for Pete. He would always whine in the morning that he couldn't get his hair right, and as soon as Emma was finished, it looked as though a professional had styled it.
"I know, Amy. I know it is." Pete sighed, putting his hand on top of both of hers on his head and bringing them down. They rested on his chest and Amy reached up and tried to stroke Pete's face.
"Don't be nervous, Daddy. Today is special for you. Mommy's proud of you and so am I!"
The sound of her voice nearly brought tears to Pete's eyes as he realized what a caring, sweet daughter he had. Patrick kept quiet beside Amy on the other side, looking out the window to avoid the awkward conversation.
"God, my stomach's churning." Pete whispered as the car drove up to the church. Many of the guests were arriving, stepping out of their expensive cars with their own families.
"It's alright, Pete." Patrick said calmly, getting out and opening his door for him. Pete didn't even have the energy to open it himself, his hands were shaking too much to hold the handle and turn it at the same time. He grabbed Patrick for support as his knees buckled when he stepped out of the car.
"Hey, Pete." A quiet voice from beside him said. He turned around with the help of Patrick, who was almost stumbling, and saw his other best friends, Andy and Joe smiling at him, but avoiding his eyes.
"Nervous?" Joe asked. Pete nodded, feeling like he was about to throw up.
"You could say that." He said, taking Amy's hand and making his way up the stone steps.
"Peter?" A familiar voice rang throughout his ears. He turned to see his mother standing in front of him, along with his father and his siblings. The sense of nervousness vanished within seconds, to be replaced with the longing of an embrace he had been yearning for minutes earlier.
"Oh, Pete. I am so proud of you." His mother said, enveloping him in a hug. He put his arms around her, relief spreading throughout his chest as he realized he had her support.
"Thank you, Mom." Pete whispered into her shoulder, and he couldn't avoid the tears of relief that his mother was there behind him that spilled out of his eyes. As they parted, he smiled at her and wiped his eyes as his father clapped him on the back and rested his hand on his shoulder before giving him a supportive smile. His sister kissed him and gave him a quick hug before joining her mother and father. His brother embraced him in a hug.
"I wish I had your courage, Pete." He said, nodding, before he too joined his parents on the bench.
"So do I." Yet another voice came from his right side, from behind the beam he had been holding onto earlier. Pete frowned and stepped behind it, to find himself face to face with Emma. Her short brown hair shining in the light coming through the stained glass ceiling and windows, and her brown eyes sparkling in the light of the candles.
"Oh my God, baby, you look beautiful. You really do." Pete said, as he took in her delicate features, her white dress that brought the color out in her face and eyes. She smiled at him and flattened his hair once again like she always had.
"I'm so proud of you, darling. I really am." She whispered, her own voice shaking, with pride and nervousness.
"It's all for you." Pete whispered, as she fixed his tie as though reading his mind that that was what he longed for.
"Typical you, Pete. Stepping aside for me." Emma smiled, running her hand down his face. He took hold of it and held it for as long as he could, taking in her details as though they would fade any minute. An organ began to play and Emma took her hand away from Pete's face, her eyes filling with tears that she refused to let fall.
"You better go, they're ready for you."
"I love you, Emma. With all my heart, with everything. I love you."
"I love you too, Pete. More than anything. Look after Amy. I love you." She repeated, walking away.
"Don't leave me." Pete whispered, reaching out for her as she walked away, his heart thumping and creeping up into his throat.
He emerged from behind the beam, seeing the relieved expressions of his band mates that he hadn't 'done a runner'. And the beautiful face of that baby girl he would love and cherish forever, who he would give everything to because she needed it and deserved it.
"Mr Wentz? We're starting." The minister said, putting his hand on Pete's shoulder too.
"Alright." Pete said, hoping he looked at least half decent before standing up in front of all these people.
After all, it was a funeral.