Rosie clutches my hands as she wiggles on her seat, her tuffs of blonde hair bouncing slightly, only just starting to grow back after months of harsh treatments. She is getting impatient as the funeral comes to an end, with only Josh yet to speak.
The minister introduces him and calls him the raised platform to say goodbye. Josh stands quickly, his shaking hands clutching his speech as he slowly makes his way to the front of the crowd.
I expected Allie to have a small funeral. Only her immediate family, Hailey and I spent time with her towards the end, although the school and hospital staff sent flowers and cards. Now it seems that anyone she had ever come into contact is attending her funeral. Most of the school, distant relatives that she never mentioned and staff of the hospital... Yet everyone is sincere. I'm glad to see so many people mourning her too. I feel like the world should be coming to a stop now that she's gone.
Josh takes a deep breath before starting his speech, his voice soft into the microphone. "Allie was the best person I've ever known. She was kind and good. She was brave and quick to laugh or smile. She was my big sister and my best friend. She is my role model."
He pauses for a moment as his voice loses its strength. I can see him struggling to remain composed while I fight the same battle, fighting the tears in my eyes.
"I will always see her in the most beautiful shells washed up on the sand, the ones that we would collect as children. When I see the rainbows under the sprinklers, I will remember the fun we had. Whenever I achieve something, I will remember that she was always the first to encourage me to reach for the stars. One of her dying wishes was to watch me run a homerun. It just goes to show how generous and selfless she was, even when she was stuck in hospital. She would listen to me tell her all about the good things that had happened, and never be spiteful. Even when she was jealous she would push it aside, telling me not to worry because it was such a stupid reaction. It would make her happy to know the people she loved were happy."
The tears start falling but Josh doesn't seem to notice. He speaks fluently without stopping, but the audience doesn't miss a single word.
"When I complained about something that went wrong, she would always have a kind word or words of wisdom. I wish I could remember every word she said. She was so wise. She knew what she wanted and rarely freaked out over the little things. She wrote letters to say goodbye, so that we would always have something of her to cling onto. I wish I could take back every time I stole the remote or said her hair needed styling. I'm sorry for every moment that I didn't take her for granted, especially before she was diagnosed. Even after I knew she had cancer, I couldn't imagine a world where my sister wasn't there hogging the bathroom in the morning or drowning her pancakes in maple syrup. Now she's gone, and it doesn't feel right. We'll miss you so much Allie. You were special... really, truly special. I love you Allie."
He folds up the paper and returns to his seat, head bowed as the tear pour over his cheeks. I find myself crying too. Rosie looks at me in confusion. She hugs my side uncertainly. I pull her onto my lap and curl my arms around her, holding her tight as the slideshow starts.
At first it seems too painful to watch. Photos of Allie appear on the screen. They are random, showing her at different ages with different people. I watch her baby pictures appear, looking for her familiar expressions in the tiny face when recent pictures of us, or that I had taken, take me by surprise. The song makes me sob even harder as I try to cage it in. 'If I Die Young' - she had requested this song for today... She loved this song. Her smiling face lights up the screen. The crowd watches her life flick by. She wins a spelling bee, watches a movie in the hospital, attends high school for the first time and takes a photo on her phone of the two of us. Every image is so full of life that it accentuates how wrong it is that this beautiful girl is dead.
Finally, after what seems like an eternity, the screen goes black and she is gone. The ceremony is over.
People shuffle out of the church and into the surrounding gardens. It all seems like a daze. Hands touch my shoulder but I pay them no mind. My parents pry Rosie from my arms as she starts to struggle in discomfort. I can't bear to see the pity in their eyes.
|Hailee Steinfeild||as Allie|
|Lincoln Lewis||as Jayden|
|Zac Efron||as Paul|
|Freddie Highmore||as Josh|
|Liam Neeson||as Allie's dad|
|Julie Bowen||as Allie's mum|
|Sophie Luck||as Hayden|