Two Weddings

Two Weddings

by Farin Powell

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Overview

After she dies and arrives in Heaven, Catherine discovers that life is still a mystery and full of hidden surprises.

Catherine, a florist in San Francisco, and David, a doctor from New York City, both die of a heart attack on the same day in the same hospital. They meet in Heaven, and together befriend an angel named Oliver who occasionally allows them to observe certain events on Earth. Catherine is particularly worried about her daughter, Sarah, a wedding planner who seems to have lost her way. She asks Oliver to let her speak to Sarah in her dreams, hoping that the dreams will end Sarah's mourning.

Her new friend, David, has his own concerns about his son, Dan. After learning more about Dan, Catherine is convinced that she has found a perfect match for Sarah. Dan lives in New York City and is trying to extricate himself from a broken marriage, but Rachel, his actress wife, won't give him a divorce.

Catherine and David convince Oliver to arrange for their children to meet. After two failed attempts, Oliver finally succeeds and Sarah and Dan fall in love-but their road to happiness holds many obstacles yet.

A secret revealed to Catherine shatters her new world in Heaven. Only time will reveal whether there will be a happy ending for Catherine and Sarah.


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781462031016
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 09/19/2011
Pages: 172
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Two Weddings


By Farin Powell

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Farin Powell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4620-3101-6


Chapter One

When she was alive, Catherine O'Keefe never imagined that one day she could watch her own funeral. She was strolling by the lake when she noticed Oliver sitting on the stone bench near the Magic Tree. She had chosen that name for the large magnolia shortly after arriving in Heaven, when Oliver had pushed back some branches and let her watch what was happening on earth. He had done it a few times since, but only let her see events he chose.

"What are you watching?" she asked as she approached him.

"Nothing." He let go of the tree branch, and it snapped back into place with a shudder of shiny dark-green leaves.

Catherine had been quick, though, and caught a glimpse. "Oh my gosh, those are my kids! You're watching my funeral? Oh, Oliver, you have to let me watch."

"Actually," he said, "I'm watching two funerals."

"Whose is the second one?"

"His name is David. You'll meet him soon. He died on the same day you did. And in the same hospital, as a matter of fact."

"Good. Now that we're all friends, you can let me watch." She sat on the bench beside Oliver, playfully bumping him with her hip to nudge him over. She needed a better view of this one.

Oliver moved over and slowly pulled back one of the branches. Catherine craned her neck to get the first glimpse. This was her funeral, for crying out loud.

She saw a group of about twenty friends and family members gathered around her casket, and noticed immediately there wasn't a dry eye among them. This made her smile.

"What're you smiling about?" Oliver asked.

She glanced at him and with feigned haughtiness replied, "I knew they'd miss me."

She turned back to the funeral and watched as Father O'Connor performed his usual graveside sermon. She scanned the crowd once more and then rested her gaze on her children. Her heart ached when she saw the pain on their faces. Her son Paul, her youngest daughter Karen, and her granddaughter Emily all stood with their heads bowed. But seeing her eldest, Sarah, sent a bolt of electricity through her, just as the defibrillator paddles had a few days earlier. While everyone around her appeared to be mourning the death of a beloved, Sarah stood eerily still, emotionless. Her eyes seemed to look straight through whatever they were focused on. Her body might be present, but the rest of her was miles away. Staring at her daughter, Catherine felt not sorrow but fear.

On earth, Catherine had cared for her children's every hurt and need. She had spent much of her life bandaging scraped knees, orchestrating after-school activities, and comforting broken hearts. Seeing her children now reminded her she could no longer comfort them through anything. The certainty of this overwhelmed her, and she had to turn away. When she looked back, she turned her attention to the second funeral taking place just beyond her own.

This other funeral had been out of focus, but now, as she looked directly at it, it not only became clear, it also became larger, as if she had zoomed in on it with a camera lens. Her own funeral was pushed to the edge of the small window the Magic Tree provided.

In contrast to her funeral, this one had only three people gathered at the gravesite. She found herself feeling sorry for the man Oliver called David.

She studied the few attendees and tried to guess their relation to David. Once that grew old, she tried to name in Latin each of the flowers in the arrangements standing around the casket. She wanted to fill her mind with anything but what was taking place in the bottom left-hand corner of her viewing window. Anything but the image of her daughter staring blankly into the distance. Soon, no longer able to resist, she refocused on her children.

"Oliver, you've got to help me reveal myself to Sarah. She's hurting, and I just can't sit up here doing nothing for her."

"Catherine, do you realize you've been here only three days, and every day you have had a new demand? I've already helped you appear in your children's dreams, which is more than I should have done."

"Yes, but this is different. Then I just wanted them to know I was all right. But now ... Well, didn't you see Sarah? She's not well. I know her and I can tell you, she is not well." Catherine emphasized the last two words by pounding her fist on her knee.

"Of course she's not. She's just lost her mother. You have to let her mourn in her own way. If it's too hard for you to see them, maybe I shouldn't show you anymore." He started to close the gap in the branches.

"No! No, don't do that. I'll be okay. But you have got to let me go to her. I should be able to do something to help her. I'm a mother; I have to try. I'm also a woman, which means I won't stop bothering you until you let me. And you know I'm telling the truth," she finished with a satisfied nod.

"Yes, I learned that pretty well with dreams one, two, and three, didn't I? But I don't know." Oliver took his cap, and scratched his head—his forehead wrinkled in contemplation. "You're not the only one who misses someone they left behind, you know."

"Please, Oliver!" She put her hands together in front of her chest, as if praying. Leaning forward, she tilted her head to the side so that she was looking pitifully into Oliver's eyes.

"Ugh! All right. You're not going to leave me alone till I say yes, so I might as well save myself the trouble."

"Oh, thank you, Oliver. Thank you so much. So when can we do it?"

"Man, you just don't quit, do you? Not right now, but stick around while I finish my review. I have to write a report on these two funerals."

"I died, David died. What's so special about our deaths that needs a report?"

"We have to follow up with those who are left behind."

And with that, Oliver turned his attention back to the Magic Tree.

* * *

Father O'Connor performed her mother's burial rites, but Sarah didn't hear a bit of it. Instead, one word kept repeating in her head: Why?

She'd spent the last hour watching a disturbing film play over and over on a screen in her mind. In the film, an elephant kept stomping on a little ant. At the bottom of the screen, a candle flickered, its flame slowly going out. It died completely when the elephant's foot came down mercilessly on the ant for the last time. A trail of smoke rose from the snuffed candle, and for a moment, the elephant stood back and looked down at the poor dead ant, apparently uninterested in stomping on what was already dead. Then the film started all over again. Sarah's mother had read to her a story about an elephant and the ant when she was five years old. Sarah didn't remember how the story began or how it ended. But she felt as powerless as the dead ant in the film.

She gazed up at the sky as she considered her mother's life. Her mother hadn't been famous; her story had never been told. She'd never been on the cover of any magazine, but she had been an unsung hero—Sarah's hero.

Three days earlier, when Catherine died, the sky had cried. Today the sun shone brightly, and the velvety-blue sky reminded Sarah of a warm blanket. She felt a soft squeeze on her arm and turned to see her brother Paul looking at her.

"We have to go, Sarah."

"I need to stay with Mom a little longer."

"Are you sure you're okay?"

"Yes, I am. Please take everyone home. The food and everything else is ready. Sharlene needs your help and Karen's to handle the lunch."

Paul shook his head in disbelief and turned to their sister Karen. Sarah could hear him speaking to her, telling her that Sarah didn't want to come home with them.

Karen tossed her last rose on the casket and hurried to Sarah. "You can't stay here by yourself."

"I'll be okay, Karen. Please go home. You have to help Sharlene take care of the guests."

"I don't care about the guests. I'm not going home without you."

"I need to stay with Mom a little longer. I have my car. Please go."

Paul and Karen apparently realized they couldn't convince her to leave, because they walked away, following the other mourners to the funeral limousine and cars parked nearby.

Sarah stood next to her mother's casket and rearranged some of the flowers laid on top. The big screen in her mind was empty. The images had faded, and the candle had died for good.

Hearing some people talking in the distance, she looked toward the sound. About a hundred feet away was another casket with three people standing beside it. This sight of another funeral deepened her sadness, and her tears flowed.

"Mom," she whispered, "what am I going to do without you?"

When Sarah's husband Mark died, her mother had been around to help her. When her father died, her mother had been the force that kept the family together. She had even helped Sarah with her business and raising Emily.

Sarah wept tears she'd held back for three days. She was the oldest child in the family, so she always felt she had to be strong for her younger siblings. She couldn't be strong any longer. She sobbed so hard, her shoulders shook.

Staring at the casket through tear-filled eyes, she asked, "How am I going to care for Emily without you? Yesterday she asked me why everyone she loved was leaving her."

Her tears kept falling; her whole body trembled.

A hand suddenly appeared in front of her, offering a handkerchief. "Are you okay?" a man asked in a kind voice. "Do you need any help?"

Sarah didn't look up to see who the man was. "I need a few minutes here with my mother. I'm fine."

"I just buried my father over there. My name is Dan Kelly. Please let me know if you need any help."

"Thanks, I'm fine. I just needed to be by myself," Sarah said.

* * *

Three days earlier, Sarah had been busy making sure Victoria Jones's wedding was the wedding of the year. As the daughter of one of San Francisco's wealthiest bankers, her upcoming wedding in the family mansion on Nob Hill was the talk of the town. Sarah had been chosen as wedding planner when a cousin of the bride—whose wedding Sarah had handled a year earlier—recommended her. Since that day six months ago, Sarah had invested almost all of her time on the wedding, intending to make it perfect.

On March 21, the first day of spring, Sarah was exuberant. The ceremony had gone off without a hitch; and by her standards, Victoria Jones's wedding was the most glamorous one she'd ever planned. Once she'd finished overseeing the major moments of the reception, she walked out into the garden to sit on a stone bench and enjoy a glass of wine. Through French doors, she could see the bride and groom dancing. Soon she would gather her things and leave the final duties to her assistant Sharlene. She finished her last sip of wine, still admiring the dance floor she had created for the wedding. As she put her glass on the stone bench, her cell phone vibrated. She looked at the screen; the call was from Ashley, Emily's babysitter. She answered immediately.

"Ashley, what's wrong? Is Emily okay?"

"Emily's fine. It's your mom. She's been taken to the hospital, the one near the flower shop."

"What happened?"

"I don't know. Someone called from the hospital and said your mom is in the emergency room. They need you to go there."

Without responding, Sarah ended the call. She grabbed her purse and rushed to her car, her heart jumping in her chest like a trapped bird. Her sixth sense told her something bad was going to happen. All kinds of crazy thoughts raced through her mind. She found her car and heard cheers just as she pulled out of the gate. The bride and groom had exited the house and were headed for their honeymoon.

Sarah's hands were shaking. The hospital was not far, but she wasn't sure she could make it there safely. She told herself to be strong. She was also ready to admonish her mother if she had done something crazy, like climb an unstable ladder to clean a chandelier. Her mother had done careless things like that before.

At the emergency room, Sarah obtained information about her mother from the receptionist and ran toward the operating room. There was a nurse waiting for her. Sarah asked frantically, "What happened to my mother? Catherine O'Keefe."

The nurse put an arm around her and led her into the nearby waiting room, suggesting that Sarah sit down.

"I don't want to sit down," she snapped. "Please tell me what happened to my mother!"

"Your mother had a massive heart attack."

"Massive heart attack? When? Where?"

"She was alone at her flower shop. The shop's driver called for the ambulance."

"I want to see her."

"You can't. The doctors are with her now."

The nurse provided more details, but Sarah wasn't hearing anything anymore. At some point the nurse excused herself and walked away. Sarah paced the hallway, praying silently. Please God, save my mother.

This pain felt much too familiar. Two years ago she had lost her father to a heart attack. Three years before that, her husband had died in a car crash. After losing two loved ones in a short period of time, how could she bear a third tragedy? With the two dreadful losses that had brought her to her knees, her mother was the one who helped her stand up and face life again.

When a tall middle-aged surgeon walked through the doors that led to the operating rooms, Sarah rushed up to him. "I'm Catherine O'Keefe's daughter. How is she?"

"I'm so sorry. We did everything we could. She's gone."

The doctor was still talking and explaining, but Sarah was done listening. She felt as if a bomb had just shattered her brain. An excruciating pain stabbed through her heart. It just didn't make sense. Her mother had had no heart problems, no health issues at all, for that matter. She was only fifty-four years old!

Sarah's knees buckled. The doctor said something to the nurse at the nearby station. She and another nurse hurried over to Sarah and tried to help her, but her body was limp and she could not stand. The nurses got her into a chair in the waiting room and then brought her a glass of apple juice to help restore her strength. By the time she felt better, the nurses had prepared her mother for her visit. A white sheet covered Catherine's whole body up to her neck. She was totally pale. No color on her face, not even on her lips.

Sarah put her arms around her mother's body and kissed her face. It was cold. She then caressed her mother's grayish blonde hair and whispered in her ear, "How could you leave me? You were my rock. How could you?"

Feeling faint and flushed, Sarah turned away from her mother's body. The room had a large window, and she walked over to it, looking down to the ground below. The room was only three stories up. She felt like jumping out to end her immense pain but didn't think the third floor was high enough to kill her.

For a moment, Emily's face appeared before her. Emily, her seven-year-old daughter, had no father and still remembered her grandfather's death two years ago. The thought of leaving Emily behind brought Sarah back to reality. She had lost her mother, but she was still Emily's mother.

A surge of energy strengthened her. She took the bag of her mother's clothes and left the hospital. It was raining now. As soon as she got in her car, her hands started shaking again, and she could not hold the wheel properly. She thought about the things she had to do. First, she would have to break the news to Paul and Karen. Her brother Paul lived in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and their two children. Karen was a medical student at UCLA.

Emily was already asleep when Sarah arrived home. Ashley, the fifteen-year-old babysitter, looked at her with concern as Sarah walked through the door. "Ms. O'Keefe, is something wrong?" Ashley asked. "Can I help?"

"No, Ashley. You can go home now. My mother died a little while ago. There's nothing anyone can do."

Ashley gasped. "Oh my God."

"I'll mail you a check. Right now I don't even know where my checkbook is."

"Ms. O'Keefe, that's not important. Are you sure I can't help you? Make some phone calls? Anything?"

"No, Ashley. It's almost midnight, please go home."

"Don't worry about the time, I live across the street. I called home and told them you might need me here."

"You're very sweet. I'll call you tomorrow if I need you."

Ashley left, though with obvious reluctance.

Sarah covered her face with both hands and cried. When she was able to stop, she took her mother's clothes to the laundry room, kissed every item, held them to her heart, and then dropped the clothing in the washer. Returning to her bedroom, she picked up the phone and tried to find the right words to tell her siblings their mother had died.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Two Weddings by Farin Powell Copyright © 2011 by Farin Powell. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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