The time during the funeral meal seemed an eternity to Katarina. She knew a lot of people had come from far to pay their last respects and to extend condolences to her for her loss. She couldn’t just sneak away. She wasn’t wired like that. Despite she had a splitting headache, she kept playing her role and thanked everybody personally for coming.
Finally, the last couple had left and she was together with Cecile alone in the hall where the meal had taken place. ‘Thanks for your support, sis. I couldn’t have coped with it.’
Cecile took her close in her arms for a moment. There was no need for words, they knew what they felt for each other and the loss they shared.
Katarina carefully loosened her embrace. ‘I’m going to check on Jean-Pierre in the hospital. He’s already going home tomorrow. I’ve so much to be grateful. It’s a lifetime debt I have because without him I would be dead. I’m frightened he’ll hate me for what has happened.’
‘Hate you?’ Cecile looked surprised. ‘Jean-Pierre would never have caught a bullet for you if he didn’t love you. It’s just because of that love he has acted that way. Katarina, you can’t doubt such a thing. If I can read him a bit, he’ll just react like you now.’
‘How do you mean, like me? I’m sad and happy and the same time. I’m happy to be alive, but the wound of my mother’s death still bleeds. I don’t know how to handle that.’
Cecile caressed her sister’s hair. ‘It’s like you say just now. He also will like that, glad because you’re alive and miserable because your mother, our mother is dead at the same time. Come on, Kat, go to your friend and give him a kiss from me too. That he gets better soon. I’ve heard he already can leave the hospital tomorrow?’
Katarina nodded. ‘Yes, after the first 24 hours he’s so quickly recovered that you almost can call it a miracle. The home nursing will they care of his further recovery. But you’re right, my place now is at the side of his bed. Take care, Cecile, you’re only thinking about me, but it was your mother too.’
Cecile bit her lip for a moment, but she could suppress the tears. She was a strong woman, Katarina had experienced that these last days. Maybe the relation between her mother and Cecile hadn’t been quite good all the time, she couldn’t deny that, but maybe it was just because they had the same character.
With a last kiss, Katarina left her sister and left for the hospital. She hadn’t slept very much these past days and she felt it started to weigh on her. She could fall asleep in a second. She was startled the moment she thought it because her eyes were closing. She put the radio very loud and started to drive a bit slower. She knew better than anyone how fast an accident could happen. After the raid on the castle and their escape from ‘Le Tapis Rouge’, they had experienced it firsthand. She couldn’t make the same mistake twice.
It didn’t take long before she found a little place at the hospital to park her car. Jean-Pierre was on the seventh floor room 766. She carefully knocked on the door but didn’t hear anything. Silently she pushed the door open and looked around the corner. She saw he was peacefully sleeping. They had almost completely reduced the painkillers and he started to color again. The specialist had told her several times he must have had a special ‘guardian angel’.
Carefully, she sat beside his bed on a chair. She saw that a lock of hair had fallen before his eye and pushed it back with a tender gesture. Obviously he hadn’t slept very deep because he slowly turned his head to her.
‘Katarina, it’s you. I’ve dreamed about you.’
She smiled at him. ‘Hopefully it wasn’t a nightmare, honey.’
For a moment, he closed his eyes. When he opened them again, she saw the saw the smile in his eyes. ‘I’ll tell sometime.’ Without her noticing, he had moved his hand a little closer. He put his warm hand upon her hand. ‘I would like to take you in my arms and comfort you, Katarina. I know these past days were very hard for you. If it was possible I’ve would have saved her too, but…’
She laid her finger upon his lips as a sign that he hadn’t to say more. Katarina leaned over Jean-Pierre and gave him a soft kiss on the lips. She felt he didn’t mind it at all and she gave him a quick kiss on his cheek. ‘The last kiss is from my sister, but the first was mine.’
Jean-Pierre smiled back. He was thinking as little as possible of what had happened. It wouldn’t change anything. He was glad to have saved Katarina and that he was alive.
‘If you’re feeling strong you can come with me tomorrow. The General has invited us to tell us a thing or two.’
‘What has happened? Do you know what’s it about?’ Jean-Pierre frowned. He was not fond of the General, but obvious Katarina trusted him.
Katarina shrugged. ‘I wouldn’t know, but I suppose it’s important. He may have done things that I don’t like, but he’s not a windbag. So, we’ll see. If you want to be there I would advise catching up on some extra sleep. I’ll stay with you and sleep in the seat here.’
While he nodded his eyes already closed. The rebellious lock of hair fell again in front of his forehead. She didn’t wake him this time when she affectionately brushed the lock again to his place.
© Rudi J.P. Lejaeghere