CHAPTER 3: THANKS, SIS
Shawn drove his motorcycle to his dad’s house. He walked up, with sweaty palms and butterflies and rang the doorbell. Needless to say, Henry was surprised to see him.
“Shawn,” he said. “What are you doing here?”
Shawn took a deep breath and said, “We need to talk.”
Henry gave him a soft glance. “Yeah, we do.”
Now, it was Shawn’s turn to be surprised. He expected his dad to say forget it. But he didn’t. He let him in.
Shawn and Henry sat down to coffee and donuts.
“You know, every time I eat donuts,” he said, sadly. “ I think of your mom. This was her favorite breakfast.”
Shawn stirred some cream into his coffee. “I thought Mom liked chocolate chip pancakes,” he said. “You made them all the time for her.”
“No, um, she loved donuts,” he said. “She craved them all the time when she was pregnant with you and Savannah. She must’ve eaten 10 dozen donuts during her pregnancy.”
“I just don’t understand why she died without telling me about Savannah,” Shawn said.
“Because it would be too painful,” Henry said. “Savannah and you were the love of Lizzie’s life. You two meant everything to her and when Savannah died, well, part of her died, too. But she realized that she had a child who needed a mother. A strong, loving, mother who needed to be focused on her child and make sure he lead a happy life. And that he didn’t have any pain.”
“Well, I didn’t,” Shawn
d. “Mom’s was awesome. She was the best mom. Funny, kind, beautiful, made a kick-butt pizza. Gave me so much, strength, faith, love.”
“And a sister,” Henry said.
“A sister who you loved more than me,” he said.
“Shawn. I know I am not the emotional guy,” he said. “I know that I haven’t shown you felt but I love you. And I loved Savannah. I love you too the same. But I was afraid.”
“Of what?” Shawn asked.
“Of losing you,” he said, stiffly. “When you and Savannah was born, I couldn’t take my eyes off of you. You two were such beautiful babies. I would stay awake after coming home a long night at work and just sit by your cribs and look at you. The two children I wanted more than anything. Then…” Henry trailed off and bowed his head.
Feeling sympathetic, Shawn reached over and put his hand on his dad’s. Surprised, Henry continued talking. “Well, Savannah died, I thought it was my fault. I was too overbearing and too emotional. SO, I decided that I would train you, not to be a man but a cop.”
Shawn understood that. “It would have been nice for you to have taught me how to be a man.”
The two sat in silence. “Do you have any pictures of her, Savannah?” Shawn asked.
“I have something better than that,” he said.
Henry sat Shawn down and put on a film. It was the day that their mom brought him and Savannah home from the hospital. Lizzie was cooing over the twins, giving them kisses and hugs. The camera focused on baby Savannah.
“Awe, Dad, she is so beautiful,” he said.
“Yeah, she is,” Henry, agreed. “She looks just like you, green eyes, nose, brown hair.”
The scene changed to a christening party. It was a nice scene. People gathering around, giving gifts and holding the twins.
“This was the day you and Savannah were baptized,” Henry, explained, “We threw a big party.”
In the midst of the party, both Shawn and Savannah started to cry, so Lizzie put the babies in their bassinette and began singing to them, just like she had done during his childhood.
Go to sleep my darling, close your little eyes.
Angels are above us, peeping through the skies.
God is in his heaven, and he watch doth keep.
Time for little children to go to sleep.
Shawn wiped his eyes as he heard the song. He had never heard it before but he thought it was beautiful…. and sad. He heard his mom sing the song again and he focused on his sister, who was wearing a beautiful white, Christening gown. He couldn’t understand it, why, if there're angels and God above him, was his sister dead? Why, if God was truly watching Shawn and Savannah, was Savannah dead? Shawn pressed, “pause” on the DVD player and focused on his twin sister, looking so sweet and beautiful and happy and alive.
“Dad, when were Savannah and I baptized?” He asked.
“January 24, 1976,” he answered, sadly.
Shawn bowed his head. “She died a week later.”
Henry nodded sadly. “Yeah, pal,” he said.
Shawn felt a tear run down his cheek. “I do not understand,” he said, sadly. “How can I be looking at this beautiful, sweet sister of mine and know, that in a week, she was taken away from me? Why couldn’t I protect her, like a brother is supposing to? Why am I alive and she’s dead?”
Henry walked to him and put his arm around him. Shawn looked at the arm and felt comfort.
“Shawn, I felt that same way,” he said. “As her father, I am supposed to protect my little girl. Make sure she is safe and comfortable. And that no one would harm her. And when she died, I felt helpless. I felt like nothing I did mattered because I had lost my daughter. And then my marriage, and my son.”
Shawn looked at him and said, “Dad, you didn’t lose me. I’m still here.”
“I know,” he said, rubbing Shawn’s shoulder. “And I haven’t seen that. I have been blaming you for everything and trying to make you something you’re not.”
Henry walked and sat in a chair. “But, if anything about Savannah’s death taught me was that life is too short,” he said. “ That I should not try to mold you into what I want but accept you and love you, because you’re my son.”
Shawn looked at him and said, “Yeah, and I should be thanking you for everything you gave me and love you, because you’re my father.”
Father and son
d at each other. Then, Henry said, “There is some place I want to take you.”
“Ok,” he agreed.
The two drove in Henry’s old pick-up truck an hour out of Santa Barbara. They found themselves in the country, beaches replaced with mountains, oceans with calm streams, salty air with mountain breezes. It was beautiful. It took Shawn’s breath away.
“Dad, this is so nice,” Shawn said, happily. “I never had been here before.”
“Well, you have, you just don’t remember,” Henry said. “I took you and Savannah here when you were little. The mountain air made you two fall asleep quicker than any lullaby your mom could sing.”
Henry drove up to a tiny cabin on the mountain. The two got out and stood by the cabin. It was made of log and had tiny windows. It was very pretty.
“Why are we at this cabin?” Shawn asked his dad.
“Well, this cabin has special meaning to me,” Henry said. “This was the cabin where I met your mom, I asked her to marry me, and we conceived you and Savannah. This is also where Savannah was buried.”
Shawn looked sad. “Where?”
Henry took him to an area behind the cabin. Under a tree and by a creak, was a tiny stone, covered by pink roses. Shawn bent down and pushed the roses away to read the inscription: “SAVANNAH MARIE SPENCER: BELOVED DAUGHTER AND SISTER AND GOD’S MOST PRECIOUS ANGEL” It also listed her birth and death. It also had a photo of her; the same photo taken at her christening. Shawn ran his fingers over the picture, his eyes focused on her sweet sister. Then, he focused on the word “angel”. That prompted him to ask Henry something.
“Dad, you believe in angels?” He asked, stroking her picture.
Henry stared in the distance. “I was never a religious man. I have serious doubt that there is God, especially after what happened to Savannah, and in the world. But…”
“But what?” asked Shawn, getting up suddenly?
“Sometimes there’re things that cannot be explained,” Henry said. He looked off at the stone.
“You’re going to think I’m crazy,” Henry said. “But I had a dream and savannah was in it.”
Shawn looked in shock. “You too?”
Henry nodded. “ Yeah, I was here at the cabin. She looked 20 and beautiful.”
“I was on the beach,” Shawn said. “She looked 7 and was wearing the most beautiful dress and flowers I had ever seen.”
“She said that we say things that hurt others,” he said. “And that we should blame each other for what has happened in the past. And Savannah is protecting us, she is watching us.”
“She is making sure we put our relationship back together,” Shawn said.
“Is it too late, Shawn?” Henry asked, hopefully. “Is it too late for us to have a relationship?”
d and said, “No, Dad. It is never too late.”
d at his son and said, “Well, then, why don’t we get lunch at the diner where your mom and I had our first date.”
d and said, “Sounds great. I’m craving tuna fish.”
d. “That’s the same lunch your mom ate everyday during her pregnancy.”
Shawn laughed and said, “Okay.” Then, Shawn walked to Savannah’s grave. He kneeled down, leaned forward, and kissed the stone. “Thanks, sis,” he said, softly. “Say hi to Mom, ok?” He stroked the stone and walked to Henry. Henry wrapped his arm around Shawn as the two men walked to the truck.
Off in the distance, two angels were standing by the grave. It was Lizzie, and Savannah, who was now looking like a 30-year-old woman. Tall, slender, with brown hair, and green eyes, just like Shawn.
“Well, Mom,” said Savannah. “I think this is the beginning of Dad and Shawn having the relationship they always wanted.”
d and wrapped her arm around her daughter’s shoulders. “Savannah, I totally agree with you.” The two stayed and watched father and son start the bonding…and healing process. A process that would lead to the two men saying, “I love you.”