|posted on 15-May-2002 9:09:06 PM|
Summary: It’s heart wrenching as Max watches the past through videos. ‘Nuff said.
“That’s your daddy over there. He’s a silly man from outer space. Say hi to Daddy, Gwen.” She gently picks the baby’s miniature hands up and shakes it up and down: a pure resemblance to a newborn baby wave. “Hi, Daddy.”
He inches closer to the mother and daughter.
“Maybe if Daddy gets his head out of the camera, he’ll come over here and give us both kisses.”
She looks at him with a tired, yet loving smile.
“We have to get everything on tape honey.”
She looks at him with a wiry expression. “We have so many years ahead of us to get our lives on tape. Your beautiful daughter wants you to hold her.”
“She has my ears, doesn’t she?” He says embarrassingly as he zooms in.
“She’ll have to deal.” She laughs whole-heartedly. She looks at him admiringly through the lens. “She has your eyes too.”
“Michael, be careful, she’s not an orb,” Maria lectures.
“I’m not stupid, for god’s sake.”
She laughs. “She’s going to love being your niece.”
She approaches them.
“I can already tell, honey. Shy like Max, stubborn like Liz. Remember when we were little in the playground, you would scrunch your nose when you were it and look she’s doing it right now.”
“And she’ll be artistic like Mikey.”
“Teach her how to paint, Uncle Michael?” She asks quietly.
He looks up surprisingly by the mere fact that he would be a part of this little baby’s life.
His face is zoomed up and for the first time, he understands what it’s like to be human. He smiles at her and nods, trying his best to hide his content.
And the baby holds onto Michael’s finger.
And she whispers something into his ears, brining a full-blown, goofy smile to Michael’s face.
She looks up at him who is taping this night scene as she sits on a rocking chair with a blanket over them by the window.
She puts her finger to her mouth. “Shhhh.” It’s sheer quiet. She smiles as she stands up slowly and heads over to him. The camera shifts and rocks. It faces the soft, pink carpet as the sound of a soft kiss placed on a forehead is heard.
“Goodnight Gwendolyn.” She sleeps without a care.
“I love you.” She says.
“Max, don’t. Don’t. Stay away from me.” She screams in delight as cake is smeared all over face.
“I’m going to get your for this.”
He grabs her and they simply stare at each other. He glides his hands over her face and all the cake is gone.
And all is quiet as they soak in the perfect moment of content, forgetting that the camera is still running on the counter.
“Mama, papa silly.”
Little did they know that they were giving some silly entertainment for their little girl who as smeared chocolate over her face as well.
“I think our daughter is trying to tell us something,” Liz says in an amused expression.
The laughter is heard all over again in the dark living room.
“See this is E Flat and this is A sharp,” Maria says as she presses the respective keys on the piano.
“Maria, huh, don’t you think it’s a little too early for Gwen to learn how to play the piano. We can barely get her to put food into her mouth and not into our mouths,” Liz says behind the video camera as she films Gwen sitting on Maria’s lap on the piano bench at home.
“Lizzie, dear, a child is never too young to learn music.”
Fits of giggles explode from little Gwen’s mouth as she starts banging on the piano with such exuberance.
The banging continues and Maria is shocked at the loud outburst of this usually quiet and calm girl.
“You were saying Maria?”
“Oh never mind.”
“I think we should get Alex to teach her. He has more patience.”
“Mama, mama. Look.” The banging and laughter continues.
“Mommy sees. Gwen has very talented fingers.”
“We can see where she gets that from,” Maria says in a sly voice.
“MARIA! I can’t believe you just said that.”
“What?” An innocent face becomes sprawled over her smiling face.
“I think it’s time to shut this camera off before Max hears anymore of your comments.”
“Look Daddy,” Gwen screams in delight as she is flying through the air in the swings.
“Push higher mommy.”
“I think it’s high enough honey, mommy’s arms hurt.” Liz begins to stop pushing her daughter as she expresses a tired expression.
Once the swinging stops, she picks up Gwen and hugs her close to her.
Gwen whispers softly in her ears. “Sorry Gwen make you tired mommy.”
Liz smiles her motherly smiles. “I’m never tired, especially when it’s with you. I think you Daddy made me tired.” Liz winks at her husband whose holding her camera.
“Bad Daddy, you made her tired.”
“I didn’t hear her complaining last night about it.”
“Max Evans!” Liz eyes her husband with the fiery that Max loves.
“Mommy, you’re yelling,” Gwen says in a quiet voice.
Liz fires him another look.
Max remembers simply looking at her with content, knowing Liz is never angry with him for long. They always make up.
Max leaves the living room and enters the bedroom.
He lies down.
He can’t sleep.
He hasn’t been able to sleep for 5 years.
Tonight isn’t any different.
He would watch and remember.
He would then go to bed.
Toss and turn for hours.
And he would fall asleep and wake up in the morning with tears in his eyes.
When he wakes up and sees Gwen, it hurts more.
They both hurt.
They both don’t understand why the most important woman to them was taken away from them.
They never understood for 5 years and they will never understand.
|posted on 15-May-2002 9:12:15 PM|
“Happy Birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy Birthday to Lizzie. Happy Birthday to you.”
Loud applause arises from the small tightly knit group.
“Come on Lizzie, make a wish.”
Liz closes her eyes slowly and her face seems to be in deep concentration as she makes her soulful wish.
She opens her eyes and they stray to a smiling Gwendolyn who is in the arms of “corniest Dad in the whole world” (as Gwen puts it).
Alex continues to try to focus on Liz with the camera.
It zooms in closer at Liz, who looks saddened as she looks at them.
“Ok, blow those sucker candles out.”
“Maria watch the language. Innocence child present.” Michael instead lectures Maria this time.
The breath exits her mouth in one tiring sweep over her 26 candles.
Loud applause and whistling once again.
People take turns giving her a kiss.
Lastly, Gwen leaves the arms of her father and enters into a soft engulf with her mother.
Everybody smiles as Gwen whispers into her mother’s ears as she always does.
A true mother-daughter moment.
Gwen stops whispering and has Liz smiling a golden smile and nods.
Gwen yells in happiness and runs to her room and runs back with a rectangular messy wrapped present for her mother.
“Michael helped me make this.” She points to her angsty uncle. This time Gwen says in a very hushed voice, yet all could hear. “We used our wiggle, wiggle.” Gwen scrunches her noise as she did when she was a baby, this time representing the fact that she used her powers. Wiggle, wiggle is the group’s reference to alien magic.
Liz gives an appreciative look to Michael and Michael simply nods that nod of his, but you can see the proud look he has for his creative niece.
“And Daddy helped write it, because Daddy says that Michael’s writing is veeerrry bad.”
“Thanks a lot Maxwell.”
“Hey it’s true.”
“Open it mommy.” Gwen becomes the anxious girl.
Liz delicately opens the wrapping and it reveals an amazing portrait of Liz sleeping at night near the window, holding an opened book.
Peaceful and beautiful are the words to describe the portrait.
“Happy Birthday to the bestest mom and the most beautiful wife.”
Etched on the far right hand corner is Gwen’s neatly capitalized letters (GWEN) and Max’s swift signature.
It literally made Liz speechless and in tears as she engulfed the two most important people into her arms. She mouths the words “Thank you” to Michael, who simply nods in acknowledgement. You can see he’s proud of his niece.
Max stares at the TV screen in tears as he looks at Liz’s happy yet saddened face.
Max lips begins to tremble as he tries to shove back the anguish back in.
Just as Liz does on the tape.
“Oh my god, you scared me Max. What are you doing?”
“Just came into your beautifully crafted kitchen for some food.”
As Max steadily holds the camera with one hand, he uses the other hand to try to grab some home baked chocolate chip cookies.
“Ouch. Izzie, that hurt. Pregnancy makes you angsty doesn’t it?” Isabelle huffs at the pregnancy insult. Unfortunately, unlike Liz’s pregnancy, Isabelle has been overly sensitive to the weight and oversensitive to how her food has been cooked. And she has cried every time she watched Bambi. Alex has learned to simply yes his wife to death and does anything she asks. So in a sense, he hasn’t changed since elementary school when it comes to Isabelle. When you come to think about it, Max hasn’t changed since elementary school either when it comes to his beloved Liz.
You can see Max’s hands shake in faked pain in front of the camera
“Don’t touch. These are for Gwen. They’re her favorite.”
“They’re my favorite too sis.”
“You can head to the supermarket and buy yourself some Amos cookies.”
“I thought I was your favorite family member.”
Isabelle continues to make a new batch of cookies as she opens the oven.
“Was, until I got myself a special little niece who appreciates my fashion sense and my hard earned cooking. You should really get some clue on fashion there Max. I can already...”
Max slowly inches away from the kitchen slowly and you can see as the camera begins to fade away from Isabelle as she continues to talk to herself.
You can hear Max’s quiet chuckle, knowing Isabelle will continue to talked to Max’s so called presence in the kitchen for about another hour or so.
“It was always a wonder how Alex or even I could keep up with Isabelle’s banter. Hopefully, their new addition will not be so talkative. But if it’s a girl, we’re all in a lot of trouble.” Max chuckles to himself
“Now as we walk away from Isabelle’s chitter chatter we can go and see what Uncle Alex is doing downstairs with Liz and Gwen,” Max whispers to himself and the camera.
Guitar sounds can be heard echoing through the highly ornate walls.
Cheering can be heard from a young girl’s excited voice.
As the camera enter s the basement’s den, Max’s quiet chuckle becomes a fatherly laugh.
“Whitman, what in the world did you do to my daughter?”
“Honey, I tried to stop him, but no go.” Liz simply shrugs with a smile on her face. She is clearly enjoying herself as well.
“Guys, guys you don’t get it. If you want your daughter to be cool, she’s gotta learn from Mr. Cool.” Alex points to himself.
The sight of him simply causes the laughter to be contagious.
Alex is dressed in leather, with 80’s brimmed sunglasses and cowboy boots and he has his bass guitar draped over him.
Unfortunately, Alex has found the same exact outfit for his favorite niece, except Gwen has her own plastic guitar.
“Yeah, I’m cool, right Uncle Alex?”
“That’s right muchkin. You stick with me and you stick with the best.” Alex smiles his wicked goofy smile. “Come on girl, like we’ve been practicing.”
Gwen begins to jam on her guitar and begins to move her body right and left.
Liz applauds and shouts, showing her true support to their rock geniuses.
Max simply chuckles at the crazy ruckus provided by the one and only Alex.
Insert new tape
“And Gwen goes to the right, she goes to the left and she----“ Gwen lifts her arms up and throws the basketball into the hoop. “Scores. And the crowd goes wild.”
Liz’s soft motherly laugh is heard from behind the video camera she holds as she films the two playing basketball in front of their garage.
Max continues to run around the driveway with Gwen on his shoulders with her arms wide out for the imaginary crowd.
“Thank you, thank you,” Gwen says to the street. She blows fake kisses to the sweet, brisk autumn air. “I’m the bestest in basketball. Yeah.”
“Hey, what about me? Aren’t I the bestest too?” Max asks in mocked hurt to his daughter who continues to wave and blow kisses.
“Oh yeah, you too Daddy,” she says nonchalantly.
“Why you little..” Max brings the tiny figure down to his level and begins to tickle her.
“Daddy, no.” Laughter escapes her delicate mouth. “Ok, Daddy, you’re the bestest.”
Max stops and whispers into Gwen’s ears. Gwen looks at Max and nods. She has an equally mischievous look on his face. They both turn their heads to look at a confused Liz.
“Oh no you don’t.” Liz places the camera onto the ground gently and she begins to back away from them.
Only the laughter can be heard from all three voices.
Max continues to sit in the dark with the TV screen in its static shower.
His tears are already dried on his cheeks.
He leans forward and puts his frustrated head onto his hands.
He takes a deep breath and stands up.
He heads over to his basket full of videotapes and rummages through them.
Liz has labeled all the tapes.
“Gwen’s First Steps.”
“Max and Michael’s Basketball Tournament.”
He shoves the box of tapes back further into the closet, attempting to move on, to stop watching the past and concentrate on the future.
As he shoves all the toys, clothes and boxes away, something catches his eyes.
He inches closer and notices that it is a box he’s never seen before.
He grabs hold of his and tears in open.
It’s a videotape.
Max’s hands tremble as he looks at the label.
And for the first time, he doesn’t know if he can watch any more videotapes.
A week has gone by, and all the videos have been untouched until now.
An overwhelming feeling overcomes Max before he takes the bold move of pressing play.
The video is silent except for a few rustlings.
No one is present yet in Gwen’s room.
The minute the image of her comes up on the screen is enough to make him cry.
There she was as she sat down gracefully on the loveseat next to the window.
She takes a deep breath and picks up her face to look at the camera.
This time she doesn’t hide her weariness, her weakness, her sadness.
“If you are watching this now, I’m already gone.”
“I knew I was sick a long time. Even when I found out, it was already really bad. I just knew that if I told anyone, even you, you would try to heal me. But this isn’t a gun shot wound, Max. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to have that gunshot enter me, but this—cancer, maybe I was meant to have this Max and I don’t know, but it feels so wrong to ask you to try to wave your hand over something I was meant to have. You can cheat death once, but you can’t cheat it twice.”
“Something in the back of my head told me that if I told you and you failed to heal me, our lives would be destroyed. I couldn’t live with the fact that we would be unhappy with the time I had left. I could live with being in pain by myself, but I wouldn’t be able to live with the fact that you or Gwen would have to live my pain as well.”
“I know that when that moment happens, you’re going to think it was your fault. It’s not. It’s no one’s fault. Even though my time is short, I lived the fullest because of you, Gwen, Maria, Alex, Isabelle and Michael. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
“I closed my eyes and made a wish on my birthday. I wished that when I was gone, that you and Gwen would always be there for each other and for the others and that the all of you would be ok. I know it in my heart that my wish will come true. And for that I’m not scared of anything.”
“Please don’t hate me, Max.”
“There’s nothing more I want then to be ok and to be with my family, but sometimes someone or something else controls our lives and…I’m ok with that and you have to be as well.”
“Just know that I love you more than you can imagine.”
“Tell Gwen that I love her and that I’ll never forget her sweet voice and her wonderful melodies. Tell her to keep practicing with Maria and Alex.” Chuckles through tears and she is overcome by the comical riots caused by Maria, Alex and Gwen.
“I love you Max and I’m so sorry.” And with those last words, she stands up and shuts the camera off.
Blackness engulfs the TV screen.
“She lied to us.”
Max whips his head around and sees a ten year old Gwen standing there with tears sliding down her small face.
“She lied to us.” This time the statement became more forceful.
“No, Gwen. Listen...”
“How could she lie to us?” This is it was anger and resentment.
And Gwen turned around and ran upstairs to her room.
The door slowly creeped open and Max caught sight of a huddled Gwen on the bed, with her back facing Max.
“She didn’t want to be with us, so she lied.”
“Honey, that’s not true.”
“Yes it is.”
Max sits down next to a sobbing Gwen and sweeps her into his arms and holds her like his next lifeline.
“Listen to me. Your mother is a brave women and if she could, she would be with us forever, but sometimes, we can’t control these things. But it doesn’t change the fact that she loves us no matter what.”
“But we can control things. You can heal people Daddy.”
“Your mother knew that she couldn’t be healed. I healed your mother before because that wasn’t meant to happen, but something like cancer, or other diseases, that’s natural.”
“Like it’s supposed to happen.”
“And your mother knew that. She didn’t want to cry, or be in pain. She wanted her life to be laughter, love and joy. And I know in my heart that when she was alive, she couldn’t imagine anything better than to be with us. And you know what?”
“She would want us to continue that laughter and love. And she would love for you to continue singing and playing the piano. She’ll always be listening and watching.”
“Of course. Like she’ll ever miss a grand performance by you.”
“We’re going to be ok without her here?” It seemed like more of a statement, a confirmation than a question.
Max recalled back to the tape and Liz’s wish.
“We’re going to be ok. We have Aunt Maria, Isabelle, Uncle Michael, Alex, and little Michelle to make sure of that.”
Gwen smiled at the thought of her extended family.
“And we’ll always have each other.”
And for once out of the thousand conversations they had about Liz’s death they finally began to understand.
Liz’s wish did come true.