Part 9: A Near Impossible Promise

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You did what Joanna?!?

I promised Mark I would see his solo this time. I really meant it too. I swear mom. I have to do it. I have to.

Joanna!  Why on earth would you do that? I'm telling you, if you break that little boys heart more than it's already broken I......

I won't mom! Ok?  Maybe instead of getting mad you could be a little supportive?

Supportive ,Joanna?

Yes mother, supportive.

My God Jo, have you completely lost your mind? I've been nothing but supportive through this whole thing! I don't know what more I can do. I always have your's and Mark's best interest at heart, always! I want you to get better more than you will ever know, trust me. I want you to leave this apartment like a normal person. Take your son to McDonalds and to the movies and out to get new clothes. I want you to do all of those things and more. Most of all I want Marky to have his mother back.

I know mom, I'm sorry. You have been wonderful through this. I just still need you. I'm sorry so much of your life is taken up by me, I am. I just don't know what to do. I know one thing though. I have to go to my son's concert. He has worked so hard, practiced so much. I'm so very proud of him. I've decided to clean the hanprints off of the glass mom. Marky said he will help me. Will you help me too? I can't do it alone and I don't think Mark can either. I would like you to help if you can.

Of course Jo, of course. I would do anything for you and Mark to get through this and on with your lives. I will help in any way you need. Please don't apologize for taking up so much of my life. You and that boy are my life Jo. I just don't think you should have promised Mark is all. He will be so happy to think you will finally see one of his performances and he will be absolutely crushed if he does not see you walk through those doors on concert night. He will be devastated dear, devastated.

I know mom, I know. That's exactly why I promised. I can't cause him any more pain. Promising him will force me to clean the handprints and go to his concert. I will not break my son's heart anymore. He wants me to do it so Justin can go to heaven.

What do you mean dear?

Joanna told her mother about Marky's dream the other night and how he thought Justin had come to see him in his sleep. Joanna told her mother that she too believed it actually was Justin visiting his brother and not simply a dream.

Well? What makes you think that dear?

In Mark's dream Justin told him about being able to go outside and play the day he died. I never told Mark that. Even in his dream he would have no way to know that.  He told Mark that I had to let him go so that he could go to heaven.

Joanna's mother stepped closer to her and held her in an embrace. Joanna sat her head on her mother's shoulder while her mother ran her hands through Joanna's hair. She felt the familiar warmth of her mother that had soothed her for her entire life. She felt like a toddler being comforted by a parent. She was helpless against the pain and thanked god that her mother was there for her to lean on.  She softly sobbed for a while holding tight to her mother.

Mom? Maybe you can get one more bottle of window cleaner? This time I will use it, I swear. I'm going to call Mr. Olan and Christa and Carey's mother. I think everyone who has suffered should be a part of this. Maybe with all of you I can be strong enough to do it.

Of course Joanna.  I will go to the store tomorrow and get some ok?  Make sure everyone can be here at the same time and we will finally clean the handprints off of the glass. The big christmas concert is tomorrow night so it is our last chance if you are really not going to break Mark's heart. Maybe everyone can get here an hour or so early and we will all help you. Ok dear.

Ok mom. Thank you. I promise you like I promised Mark. I am going to do it. It's going to take every ounce of strength I have in my body and soul to do it but I have to. I can't keep ruining my son's life.

Ok honey. Call me in the morning to let me know what time everyone will be arriving and I will bring the window cleaner. I hope this really happens, Jo. It will be a wonderful day for Mark if it does. And if Mark's dream really was a vision as you say then it will be a wonderful day for Justin as well dear. God rest his beautiful little soul.

Joanna's mother gave her a hug and then left apartment 3B hoping and praying with all of her might that when she returned her daughter would have found the strength to finally clean the handprints and move on with her life.

Joanna hugged her mother good bye and then walked slowly over to the handprints on the glass she had come to depend on for the last two years. The handprints her baby boy had left on the window the day he had died. She sat in the chair and could almost see her son with his hands on the window watching and wishing he could be a part of the outside world...........................

Momma look!  It's the mailman! I'm gonna knock on the window so he can see me ok momma?

Ok honey, go ahead.

Look momma!  Jimmy and Danny have a ramp set up. They are gonna jump their bikes on it! Wow, so cool!  Momma? can I eat dinner at the window? I wanna see the kids riding their bikes.

Ok honey. Me and your brother will come sit on the couch and eat with you ok?

Ok momma. Hey Marky!  Look at the kids riding bikes. It looks so fun doesn't it?

Mark sat his plate down and joined his brother at the window.  For the next hour the boys watched the neighborhood kids jump over ramps and ride skateboards and roll around on scooters. At any point Mark could have went out and joined the children but he decided to stay on the chair with his little brother. The boys sat side by side Mark with his arm around Justin's shoulder the entire time. Neither boy even noticed that their dinner was getting cold and Joanna was too moved by the scene to interrupt it. After watching for a while Justin had to take his medicine that made him really tired. He as usual asked his momma if he could sleep on the chair by the window and she would have told him no but his brother volunteered to sleep on the couch and look after him.  After Justin fell asleep with his hands still on the glass Mark sat him back in the chair and covered him up. He placed a gentle kiss on his brother's cheek and then lay down on the couch next to Justin's chair.  Mark fell asleep with tears rolling down his cheeks.........................................................

Joanna stepped to the window and got on her knees in front of it. She leaned forward and kissed her son's perfectly formed handprint on the window.  Then she prayed for the strength to clean them off.  After praying she sat in Justin's chair that he had spent so many hours watching the outside world and just stared at her son's handprints. She did not sleep at all that night.

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