After
Author:Kristin Harmel

I took a deep breath. “I have some news,” I said. “I got a letter from Boston University yesterday.” I paused and grinned. “I got in. I got accepted. And I think there’s a pretty good chance I’ll get that scholarship.”

I had applied for a scholarship for children whose parents had died, sponsored by Kate’s Club in Atlanta—the club that had inspired our group. Every year, the founder, Kate Atwood, chose a few kids to send through college. You just had to write an essay about how your life had changed since your parent’s death and what your plans were for the future. I had sat down to write an essay. Instead, I wrote twenty-two chapters. I couldn’t stop writing. And Ms. Atwood had called to say that my story had moved her to tears, and she thought that with some editing, it could maybe even be turned into a book.

Mom was the first to hug me. “I’m so proud of you. And I know Daddy would be too.”

I hugged her back and imagined Dad’s arms also wrapped around me. I imagined what his face would look like, so full of pride and joy for me. And for a moment, I felt like he was there with us.

I’d wanted to tell my family first, but I could hardly wait to tell Sam later tonight. He’d been accepted at Northeastern. I knew we were young, and who knew what would happen in the future? But at least this meant we were going to be in the same city and we wouldn’t have to deal with the whole long-distance thing. If we were meant to work out, we would.

Logan cleared his throat. “Well, I haven’t heard back yet, but I applied to Suffolk,” he said, naming a small university in the center of Boston. He’d taken a year off after graduation. “And I think my grades and SAT scores will get me in. So I guess we’ll both be in the city.”

Logan and I hugged. He drove me crazy sometimes, but we’d become a lot closer in the past year, and I couldn’t imagine being far away from him. Plus, he’d probably need to hit me up for rides home to visit Mom.

Tanner was grinning. “This is perfect!” he announced. “There’s a comedy club in Boston that me and Sarah read about. And on Monday nights, they have amateur night for comics under eighteen. We’re gonna work on our act. We should be ready by next fall. And you guys can come watch us and bring all your friends!”

I grinned back at my little brother. “You bet! You’re going to have the biggest BU cheering section any comedian has ever had.”

“Not to mention the biggest Suffolk cheering section,” Logan added.

“And probably the biggest Northeastern cheering section too,” I said, thinking of Sam. “Actually, it just sounds like you’re going to have the biggest cheering section ever.”

Tanner smiled from ear to ear. “Cool,” he said.

Mom was looking at all of us, her eyes glistening. “Dad would be really proud of you,” she said. “All of you.”

As we walked away from Dad’s grave that night, Mom held hands with my brothers, and I held Tanner’s right hand, my own right hand outstretched. I was reaching for Dad. I knew he was right there with us, as much a part of our family as he had ever been. Just because we couldn’t see him didn’t mean he wasn’t there.



Kristin Harmel is a longtime contributor to People magazine. It was while working on a People story that she got to meet Kate Atwood, who runs Kate’s Club, an organization for grieving kids in Atlanta, which inspired this novel. Kristin lives in Orlando, Florida, and admits that she spends far too much time at Walt Disney World, which is just fifteen minutes from her house.

To learn more about Kristin, visit her Web site at www.KristinHarmel.com.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.