It was a twenty minute walk for me to the park. Typically, it was one of my favourite places and was outlined in thick hedges so you felt completely alone, perfect when you want to disappear. For some reason, I got there before Rob and stood on top of the little hill. The park was very large and I wasn't the only one there taking advantage of the sunny weather. By the lake there were a few people feeding ducks with their squealing children and mothers pushing babies on swings, going the same rate even when they screamed to go higher, just as a precaution.
I couldn't wait until I had children. How naieve was I back then.
Just then, I caught sight of Rob walking up to me, scuffing his worn trainers along the grass. His eyes were intently fixed on his frayed laces, half hidden under his dark brown hair that swayed hypnotically with his steps. He stopped right in front of me. I didn't know what to do, we were so close and yet I could think of nothing to say. Instead of using words, I placed my hand on his cheek. His eyes flickered up and he lifted his head. With my gentle touch, his six foot, uncoordinated and scrawny frame began to shake uncontrollably and he sunk to the floor, me following.
I wrapped my arm around his shoulder and pulled him against me so his head rested against my shoulder. Plenty of experience with friends crying was under my belt, I had many friends and made it my secret mission to make sure I was there whenever they needed me. For ten minutes I held him and he held onto me, crying all the while. Still it had not dawned on me, Rob had been my first priority, not Dana.
"I'm sorry." He mumbled once he had calmed down and the flow of tears had subsided.
"That's okay." I smiled as he pulled away and wiped his red eyes.
"It was just so sudden. Why her, Alli? Why Dana? Did she do something wrong? You're a Christian, did we sin? Is that why?" He gripped my arms urgently.
"If you have sinned, I'm sure God wouldn't punish someone as innocent as Dana."
"Have I been playing too roughly with her? Did I do this?"
"No," I said firmly, "This is no ones fault. You can't blame yourself."
"She's ten, Alli, ten."
"I know. It's horrible." I agreed, "What'll happen to her now?"
"She has to talk to a doctor about having chemotherapy." His voice broke on the last word and he started crying again, "I would do anything to make sure she survived."
So would I.