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My world, gone in an instant

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After the fireside chat I put Jemmy back in his bed and came down to the dawn rising and Claire waking Iain, Bree , and Roger. “What are ye doing, Sassanach?”

“I’m still worried about Jemmy.” She then tore into the surgery and began taking jars out of the stores. “I want to get all the things he could potentially take to harm himself out of his way.” I crossed my arms and stared at her. “Grief is a process and one setback could have him reaching for…” she picked up the water hemlock jar. “...these.”

She handed the jars to each of us and asked us to follow her, which we did without question, to the woods near the boundary of the ridge. Claire then got me to dig a hole near the tallest tree and we buried them.

Walking back to the house I looked around in the rising sunlight and remembered the wedding that Kathryn had insisted on for me and Claire. She had looked so bonnie that day with her long brown hair flowing in the wind and how Jemmy had looked at her. It was another case of two soulmates wedding, like Claire and I, and Jemmy’s parents.

Marsali and Fergus were also making their way to the house and Marsali’s face lit up when she saw Bree. “Sister! ‘Tis good tae see ye again!” She embraced Bree and I felt my heart soar. “Ye must come and see our new’ as big as da’s right enough but...Germain and Constance needed a place tae lay roots...and lay they did. I’m a granny 4 times over now, and that’s just Germain’s bairns…” I put up a hand to still Marsali.

“Let’s get back up tae the big house and ye can catch up ower tea.” Marsali nodded and we made our way back to the house with Bree and Marsali deep in conversation, Marsali’s brow furrowed and I knew Bree had told her about Jemmy and Kathy.

When we came back to the house Jemmy was still sleeping and so we made tea and had a breakfast of parritch and honey. After breakfast Marsali sipped her tea. “So his wife was killed while travelling….” Bree nodded and Marsali made the sign of the cross and shook her head. “Babe in her womb an’ all...have they no decency?” At that point Jemmy awoke and came into the dining room rubbing his eyes.

Fergus stood and embraced him, “good morning, nephew. How did you sleep?” Jemmy shook his head and kissed Marsali’s cheek. “Ah, no matter. Will you have tea?” Jemmy sat and drank tea with his family.

“Lad. Ye want tae walk wi me?” Jemmy nodded and we both stood and walked around. “I just thought ye widnae want tae be smothered by yer Aunt Marsali.” He laughed and I was relieved to see him laughing again. We walked in silence until he felt the need to talk wi his grandda again.

“I felt so helpless when Kathy called, you know? I hated that I couldn’t be there to hold her and comfort her, even as she was dying. But the thing that hurts the most is that I never said ‘I love you’ when she said goodbye...even though I had plenty of time...why didn’t I say it?” He looked at me for reassurance.

“Lad, ye likely thought ye’d say that when ye saw her again. Ye never dreamed it would be yer last chance tae say it.” He went rigid and I knew he was listening but not truly hearing. “See the still?” He nodded. “I was lured there when a man took yer granny. I was away from her when she was scared and I couldna comfort her when the man who took her began unspeakable things against her...and I had realised that I hadn’t told her I loved her.” He looked at me. “I realise that I got yer granny back and I could tell her then but the agony I felt when I realised that was immense and the pain if I hadn’t gotten her back to tell her would have killed me. And in that you are a stronger man than I am.” I saw him stop and I stopped too.

“I...I didn’t know Grandda. I’m sorry.” He opened his mouth to say more but didn’t need to.

“I didna tell ye so ye could be sorry. I telt ye because now ye ken I ken how ye feel.” I smiled and I saw him smile again and take a deep breath and with that we walked back to the big house.