Jack shielded his eyes against the bright white light that had invaded his vision once he opened his eyes. Once his vision was cleared he looked around and noticed that he was in a white room and he was incredibly warm. Warm and full of peace. Where was he? Where was Rose and his mother? Was Dean still around?
Getting up from the bed, he carefully walked over to the door, noticing that he too was dressed in white. Somehow he didn’t have a good feeling about all of this. Where was he?
“Hello!” He called out, hoping that someone would open the door he had found locked. “Is anyone there?! Hello! Rose! Mom!”
“Hello son,” a familiar deep masculine voice spoke up from behind.
Jack froze in space. That voice…only one person owned that voice, so full of strength and safety. But it couldn’t be. The owner of that voice had been dead for almost six years now. Swallowing he turned around and gasped. It was him! “Pa?”
Andrew Dawson was a tall mascular man with blond hair and intelligent blue eyes. He matched Jack’s height, but Jack was of a leaner build. But it was obvious that Jack got his good looks from his father. Andrew was dressed in an identical white suit as Jack’s. The older man got up and walked over to his son and embraced the younger man. “I wish I could say that it was good to see you up here again son. But I can’t.”
“I’m dead aren’t I?”
Andrew laughed, a loud and hearty laugh full of amusement. “Not quite my boy. But you’re near it. Just like you were a month ago. You were here then too, but you didn’t need me like you do now.”
“What is this place? This isn’t heaven is it?”
“No. Of course not. You have to be dead to get there. You’re in…well…it’s kind of hard to explain.”
“Am I here for good?” Jack frowned. He sure hoped not. Rose needed him. He had promised her that they’d be together forever. He didn’t want to go back on that promise. Plus he wanted to be there for his baby. He was going to be a father.
“No. I don’t think so. Only until you are strong enough. Come, let’s walk,” Andrew Dawson opened the door and motioned for Jack to follow. “We have a lot to talk about my boy. Like that ma and her new hubby.”
“Oh. I take it that you know all about them two then.”
Andrew nodded, lightly draping an arm over his son’s shoulder. “I’ve always known Jack. I knew she never stopped loving him. I would have never married her if it wasn’t for my ma and her pa conspiring. I knew that she was in love with Dean Mitchum and I wanted to go find someone who would love me. But it didn’t turn out that way.”
“…you mean you didn’t love her either?”
“No. That’s not what I meant at all. I was in love with your mother son. Deeply so. But I knew she could never love me, especially in not the way I wanted her too. Her heart belonged to Dean. I was even foolish enough to think that having a child would make her love me and get Dean out of our lives forever. But alas. I was wrong. She never loved me and as soon as you were old enough, I knew she was going to leave with him so they could have a life together.”
“You mean…she was going to leave the both of us? She didn’t even love me enough to make it work?”
“Jack, your mother adored you. Leaving you was bound to be the hardest thing she ever did. But she knew that the best place for you was with me and that losing her would break my heart but to take my only son away from me too…that would destroy me.”
“So you’re saying I should let her have her way right? Let her have the room and the bed for herself and her…husband?”
“Jack…I’m dead. What she does doesn’t matter to me anymore. And I know it’ll hurt you, but try to understand your mother’s point of view. She had controlling parents. She loved a man they didn’t approve of and was forced to marry and start a family with a man she didn’t. Now she has a chance to have the life she was meant to have. Jack…if Caledon Hockley was a decent man. Brave and caring and attentive towards Rose…would you and Rose be together now?”
“No. I would have been able to turn away knowing that she was going to be well taken care of. The one thing I hated about Cal was that he was always trying to down her. Control her. Snuff out her fiery spirit. I couldn’t let that happen dad. Even then, when I barely knew her, I loved her that much. Dad…you never did any of those things to ma. Not once did you tell her what she could and couldn’t do or belittle her. He should have turned away. If he had a decent bone in his body, he should have turned away from her.”
Andrew bowed his head. It was time to tell his son the truth. The things he didn’t witness. That Andrew had made sure to keep hidden from his son. “Jack…I wasn’t always a kind man. I wasn’t anything like Cal, but…I had an awful problem with jealousy. True, I was always kind to your mother. Treated her with the love and respect she deserved. But Dean…he was another story. I did everything imaginable to get him out of our lives. First I tried talking to him. That didn’t work. Then I threatened him…finally, and I think this is what made him stick around, I got violent. Dean…he was a bully. We never got along really. Well…it was about two years after you were born. You probably don’t remember, but your mother had taken you to the park and I witnessed the three of your together.”
“You’re right,” Jack sighed. “I don’t remember.”
“Well…being the bully he was, after your ma took you home, I confronted Dean. Told him to stay away from my family. Then he began taunting me. Telling me how he was going to take your ma and you away and that I would never know my son. In fact, he was going to make sure that you grew up just like him. Well I lost my temper. I punched him, and kept punching, not giving him the chance to get the upper hand. Your mother returned and saw what was happening. She had left you with a friend. She tried to grab my arm and not knowing that it was her behind me…I accidentally hit her. I didn’t mean to son…it was an accident.
“Well anyway, I went to her, apologizing again and again. Dean tried to get me away from her, but she told him to go on home. That she’d handle everything. I think that one time…that accidental punch is what made him stay. He wanted to make sure that I wasn’t abusing her. I lived with the guilt of that punch son. I tried everything to make up for it too. I even drilled it into your head that hitting women was wrong. I wanted to make sure that you never repeated my mistake.”
“The day of the fire…”
“I knew that she was going to leave. I was going to try to talk her out of it. But when I entered the building…she was already gone and the fire was too bad…there was no escape. All I could do was pray that God looked out for you and that she had the decency to at least come back and look after you.”
Jack glared at the ground. More or less, both his mother and Dean had murdered his father. Lured him to his death by their torrid affair. If she was going to leave, why didn’t she just leave in middle of the night and leave a note. Why set a fire?
“That is something only your mother can answer,” Andrew smiled gently. “Don’t hate her Jack. Her situation…it was much like Rose’s. Her mother was an overbearing woman who cared only for social status. Us Dawson’s weren’t rich, but we were respected. Well thought of where Dean’s family…well they were considered lower then the cattle. And it’s my fault as well. I should have refused to marry her. But you know, if I had, I would have missed out on the joy of having you as a son and Rose would be married to that Hockley right now, or laying at the bottom of the ocean because she wouldn’t have met a bright young man such as yourself.”
“So…you think I should’ve let them have the room.”
“Son, that’s a decision that you have to live with. If it makes you feel too uncomfortable, don’t. But if you’re doing it because you believe it an offense to me…son, I’m dead. I can care less who sleeps in that room.”
Jack looked at his father,
realizing just how much he had missed him all these years. Even though he was sad not to be with Rose,
he was happy to be with his father.
“Well…at least we’re together now right? You’re not alone anymore.
In fact, I guess you’ll have a lot to teach me about the way of life
Andrew sighed sadly. He would have loved to have Jack with him. Get to know his son again. Listen to him talk about his travels. But he knew it wasn’t to be…not yet anyway. Jack had too much left to do in his life. So much to live for. He had to make him see that. “Jack. You can’t stay. It’s not your time yet. You have to go back.”
“Pa no. I want to stay up here with you. There’s no pain here…no grief…You can’t make me go back.”
“You’re right. I can’t,” Andrew led his son to what looked like a frozen over lake, a whole cut out for ice-fishing. “Look down at the water son. What do you see?”
Jack looked down at the dark freezing water, being reminded of the waters of the North Atlantic. Amazingly the water began to clear and had a whiteish glow. To Jack’s astonishment a room appeared. A room with him laying in bed, pale and lifeless. Rose sat by his side, one of his hands pressed against her face, wet from the tears she was crying. George was on the other side, peering down at him sadly. Cillie brought in a pitcher of what looked like steaming water and poured it into a large bowl. She took a rag, dipped it into the water and pressed the wet cloth to Jack’s forehead.
Looking at Rose, he felt his heart break. She was so sad. At that moment he wanted to comfort her. Tell her that he was alright. That he was safe and with his father. But he knew that was impossible…unless…unless he went back.
“She needs you son. Your wife and child need you down there with them. They’re not ready to let you go yet. And your cousin…he needs you too. You’re his best friend you know.”
“But…if I go back…I’ll never see you again.”
Andrew laughed. “Of course you will son. Your time to join me will come someday and I’ll be there to greet you when it does. Just remember that I love you and I’ll always be with you.”
A tear escaped Jack’s eyes. He didn’t want to say good-bye. But he knew that his father was right. Rose needed him, more now then she ever did. “I love you.”
“I love you too son. Take care of my grandchild. And also…I like Rose. She’s been good for you. I’m glad you’ve found a woman like her.”
Jack could only smile sadly, knowing that this was good-bye. He now knew what that little girl from Titanic must have felt when her father was telling her good-bye. He hugged his father one last time, trying to engrave the memory as much as he could.
“Son…be easy on your
mother. I know you’re angry, but she is
the woman that gave you life and you still love her. Just as I do. My death…it
wasn’t her fault.”
“Plus…tell her that I’m not angry with her. I never was. I was just sad. Sad that she couldn’t love me and sad that you were alone in the world. Tell her that for me?”
“Yes. Ok,” Jack pulled out of the hug, ready to
return to his family. To his Rose. Looking down at her now, he knew it was in
her arms he wanted to be. He wasn’t
ready to leave her yet. He may never
be. “How do I get back?”
Just close your eyes and step on to the ice son. That’s all. Just like when I took you ice fishing. You remember that don’t you?”
Jack blushed, remembering how he had used that experience to talk Rose out of commiting suicide. “Good bye pa.”
“Be good my boy. I know you’ll make me proud,” Andrew stepped away, pushing away the pain of saying good-bye. “Give that wife of yours a hug for me and tell her I thank you for making my son so happy.”
“Good-bye,” Jack looked one last time upon his father. Taking a deep breath, he stepped forward onto the ice, the scene of his worried family even more clear then before. “Don’t worry Rose. I’m coming home.” Closing his eyes, he stepped forward just as the ice began to creak and crack. He took another step and the ice gave way, sending falling down into a cold white light that seemed to be streaming down to his body below.
Rose clung to his lifeless hand, sending prayer upon prayer to the God that had given her Jack in the first place. “Send him back to me,” She sobbed, tightening her hold on his hand, as if doing so would keep him with her. “Jack.”
“Rose,” a hoarse voice whispered her name. She gasped at the pressure of his hand, squeezing hers in return. “Don’t cry Rose. I’m ok.”
She opened her eyes and stared into his brilliant blue orbs, so alert, bright and healthy. He was back! He had come back to her. She threw her arms around him and sobbed happily. “Oh Jack! You came back!”
“Of course. I promised I’d never leave you and that’s a promise I’m keeping. Don’t cry Rose. I’m here and I love you so much.”
“Jack, you’re awake,” George and Cillie stepped into the room, their eyes round with happiness. “You’re awake.”
“Thank you for taking care of her,” Jack held Rose tightly, not ever wanting to let her go.
“I know you’d do the same for me. Besides, you both are family and that’s what families do. We take care of each other,” George smiled, wrapping a relieved arm around his wife. “We Dawsons have to stick together.”
Jack smiled, remembering his conversation with his father. Closing his eyes he sent a silent thank you to the man who had taken away at least some of his emotional turmoil. And even though he didn’t have his father, he had Rose and their child, plus George and Cillie. They were his family and as long as he had them, he knew that everything would be alright. No matter what else life threw his way.