DISCLAIMER: CSI is in no way mine, though I wish it was there would have been no GSR.
WARNING: This story contains mention of self harm and suicide.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Sofrost for the beta.

By Freddie-4884


Part 16

Catherine's POV

It's been six months since Sara died and so much has changed in my life. Well, so much has changed in our lives. Brenda is going to become a full member of our household. About a month after Sara's cremation Brenda was staying over for the weekend. Both girls were tucked up in bed, Lindsay in her room and Brenda in the spare room. The spare room had gradually become Brenda's room and she was staying over that weekend so we could decorate it the way she'd like.

As I was locking up to go to bed that night, Brenda came running down the stairs like she had the devil at her tail. I was nearly knocked off my feet by her barrelling into me. It took some time to calm her down; she'd had another nightmare about her dad. Since she began to sleep over on a regular basis, I found that she would occasionally have a nightmare about her dad chasing her. This night we sat on the sofa and talked through her nightmare, like we usually would. Once she was calm enough to sleep again I tucked her into bed. As I was turning off her light I heard her whisper, 'goodnight, Mom.' That night as I lay in bed thinking about the unrest Brenda must feel. By the time I was ready to sleep, I had come up with a plan. I was going to adopt Brenda, she felt like a daughter to me already. All I had to do was speak to Wilma, Lindsay and of course Brenda.

Thankfully, they were all in agreement. Brenda would benefit from being adopted by someone who could love her and give her a family. I spoke to Wilma about wanting to adopt Brenda. She was so happy that I had come to the decision myself. She was going to speak to me about it. She said that Brenda was a lot happier whenever she was going to be spending time with us. Next, I had to speak to Lindsay; I was more than a little apprehensive about it. She was an only child; she's never had to share me with another child except from Jeremy, on occasion. But she was really excited about having a sister, especially since that sister could be Brenda. I couldn't believe it when she started to jump up and down with excitement. Finally, I was able to speak to Brenda. I felt bad about leaving her out of the loop for so long, but I had to make sure that I would be allowed to adopt Brenda and that Lindsay would be ok with it too. One the day I asked her if she would like to become my daughter, I had made hers and Lindsay's favourite dinner. Somehow Lindsay and I made it through the main course without telling Brenda why this meal was so special. But by the time desert came around I couldn't hold it in anymore. I sat her hot apple pie and ice cream in front of her and just asked her if she would allow me to adopt her and make her a part of our family properly.

At first I thought I had made a mistake. She just sat at the table gawking at me as though I had grown a second head. When I told her that it was just an idea and that it doesn't make any difference to how we feel about her and she would always be welcome with us. When tears made their way down her cheeks Lindsay and I were out of our seats and by her side trying to comfort her. It wasn't long before we were crying with her. She wanted to stay with us. She wanted to be a part of a proper family, a normal family. That night we celebrated, just the three of us. We agreed that we would have a party when the adoption papers.

The next change in my life was work. The day I came back from compassionate leave I requested a move to day shift. I couldn't work with Gil anymore. All the trust I had for him was gone. There's no doubt that I still love him, he was my best friend for the better part of twenty years but what we had died when Sara did. Obviously the guys are gutted that I'm leaving the shift. I told them that it was better for Lindsay and Brenda if I was around more for them. We would have a better sort of life together. Working days I would have more regular hours, I would be there in the morning to send them to school and in the evening to give them their dinner and help with their homework. I would be there for the important things in their lives.

Working days means I won't see any of the guys or any of the lab techs. I know I might get lucky and I might run into them if they have to pull a double or if our cases cross but times like that are few and far between. I don't know who I'll miss the most. We had a dynamic. Each member of the team brought something to the table, and I'm not just talking about their specialities, but their personalities too. I guess the day Sara died the team was fractured. I'm not saying that we wouldn't have missed Sara, but we would have healed in time. Now I've left the team, it's broken. I don't want to sound big headed but I'm not sure if they would ever recover from that. Losing one team member is hard enough but trying to recover from that loss then having to deal with one transferring out is difficult. As much as I hate to leave the boys like this, I have to do it. I need to move on, for the girls' sake as well as my own.

When I got Sara's ashes back from the crematorium, I couldn't think what to do. I wanted to keep them, keep her, close but Lindsay and Brenda came up with a fantastic idea. Scatter Sara's ashes underneath a tree in the park that they go to play in. Along with the tree, they suggested a bench. Somewhere for me to sit and watch them play. At first I was speechless. I should have known my daughters would come up with such a magnificent idea. So that's what we did. When I spoke to the boys they were in agreement. A tree and a bench at the play park would be a great idea. Somewhere we could all hang out in the nice weather. Greg was really excited about the idea. All he could talk about was barbeques and touch football. Warrick and Nick were less...shall we say 'hyper' about the idea. They agreed that the girls and Greg were right. The tree and bench were a good idea and it would be a better place to have our get-togethers. I think they liked the idea of seeing Lindsay a bit more and getting to know Brenda.

It took some time to get it all together. We had to get permission to plant a tree and erect a bench, but finally it came through. We made arrangements to have the planting ceremony on a Saturday morning. Everyone who could come did. It couldn't have been any different from the cremation. The sky was blue with light fluffy clouds that lazily drifted across the sun. I scattered Sara's ashes over the roots of the tree before they were covered by soil. Little was said at the time. I think we each felt that we had shared our grief enough. Today was going to be a day for fun, a day for remembrance. Once the tree had been planted we had to wait for the bench to arrive. Greg thought it was a good time to have an impromptu picnic. He and the guys disappeared to get food. He said it was the duty of the men to procure food for the women, while striking poses and flexing his pretty much non-existent muscles. I've got to admit he was really funny, in typical Greg fashion; he managed to make me laugh.

At the picnic we all sat on the grass and ate takeout food, a lot of takeout food. It seems the boys couldn't agree on what to get so they each picked out their favourite foods from three different restaurants. It turned out to be a fun day. We talked about Sara, the good times that we all shared with her. The girls loved hearing about the silly things that she got up to and shared a few of their own stories also. Lindsay and Brenda enjoyed having their three uncles run around after them while I sat on the grass with Jim, Doc Robbins, David, some of the lab techs who could make it and Gil. I've got to admit. It was a little Strange sitting there with him. He tried to talk to me but I couldn't act like we were friends again. It was just too hard. Thankfully there were other people there. I could keep them between us; I could use them like a barrier between us.

Finally the bench arrived. It had one extra feature that I hadn't told anyone about. I asked for a small brass plague to be placed on it. It was perfect. It was simple and elegant just like Sara. I asked them if they would etch a small message on it. Once the plague was revealed everyone hung around the park for a little longer before they had to head off. Lindsay, Brenda and I stayed a little longer. The girls wanted to play on the swings on their own for a while and I wanted to sit with Sara. Watching the girls swing higher and higher on their swings my fingers found the words etched into the brass plague. I didn't have to look at them to know what they said; I would never have to look at them. As much as they're etched into the brass they are etched into my heart.

Time goes passes by so fast. You should grab hold of it and make the most of it.

Sara Sidle 1978-2009

Beloved friend, mother and lover.

Gone but never forgotten.

The End

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