"The Cross I Bear"

Disclaimers: I am only a lowly student who likes to play with other
people's toys because I don't have any of my own to play with. I
promise to return them after I finish playing. I can't promise that
they will be in perfect condition but they will be returned. I do
however own Alexis Anne, Jane and Patrick.

Spoilers: Two Cathedrals

Author's note: The idea for this story came to me while I was sitting
in church Sunday morning, acolyting. In my experience with funerals,
the acolytes have always been teenagers closely related to the family.
So, that got me thinking about the acolytes at Mrs. L's funeral and how
they knew her. I made up the character while working on another story
but this one is being posted first. Hope you enjoy! Mucho thanks to
Sarah for being my beta!



So, here I am. Sitting in the most beautiful church in the world, in my
opinion. I have been coming to the National Cathedral everyday of my
life. I have been an acolyte since I was 13 but today is different.
Today I am acolyting at the funeral of the President's secretary.
Mrs. Landingham was like a grandmother to me. I met her about three
years ago on the campaign trail. I was spending the week with my aunt;
my stepfather thought it would be a good learning experience. Don't get
me wrong I love Aunt Claudia but I wanted to spend my Spring Break at
the beach. I immediately liked Mrs. Landingham. She was smart, sassy,
funny, and didn't take any crap from the Governor. She was always
willing to give me a cookie. After they won the campaign, I saw her
almost everyday. Since I live in DC getting to the White House after
school is easy and she was always there with a cookie and a smile for
me. She would ask me about school and how things were going at church.
She knew that I was active in the church community and she knew that I
was one of the most used acolytes at the Cathedral. She was always
interested in whatever production I was in at the time at school. She
was more of a grandmother to me than my own. I was so shocked to when
Claudia told me that she had left instructions in her will for me to be
an acolyte at her funeral along with my best friends from church, Jane
and Patrick. Why would she want me, boring Alexis Anne Cregg to acolyte
at her funeral? I still haven't manage to figure it out.

So here I am sitting at the altar of the National Cathedral with two of
my best friends and I am trying so hard not to cry. I avoid looking at
the rows where the President and senior staff are sitting. I know that
if I make eye contact with any of them especially Claudia I will lose
it and start crying. Unfortunately I still have to make it back down
the aisle at the end of the service so I don't have that luxury.

After the funeral, I will head back to the White House with everyone
else and help anyone who needs it. Mrs. Landingham figured that if I
was going to spend so much time around the White House then I should at
least do some work. I was appointed to Claudia's office but I was
basically at the mercy of anyone who needed me. At the time I was a
15-year-old girl who did all sorts of jobs that people needed done. As
much as I despised being sent all over the Metro DC area some days, I
loved working there and I thanked her everyday for the job. It allowed
me to be around the people that I considered a family.

The choir just finished singing and I am in tears. I promised myself
that I wouldn't cry but that didn't work out. As I pass Claudia on the
way out I can see that she is crying and I know that she can she the
tear stains on my face. She gives me a sad smile as I pass her. I can't
help thinking about how different everything is going to be now that
Mrs. Landingham is gone. There won't be any more cookies in that
crystal jar or someone that tries to make the President eat a salad.
She had just bought a new car an then she was killed in a car accident.
Talk about an irony. I am standing near the doorway to the church from
the hallway near the acolyte room and I can hear the President yelling.
He is yelling at God and is voicing all of the opinions that I would
like to. I was so busy listening to the President that I didn't hear
Claudia come up behind me. I nearly jumped out off my skin as I felt
her hand on my shoulder. I turned around and gave her what I know is a
sad smile because I know that she has also heard him. She draws me into
a hug and keeps her arm around my shoulder as we walk to the car. As I
look at the front of the church one final time, I know that this is not
the end and that there are harder times ahead. I just hope that we can
all get through them without her.



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