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If You Get There Before I Do

~~Year 2013~~
He looked down upon the face he’d come to know so well. Tears fell freely as he reached out his right hand to her cheek, as close as he dared without waking her up. While earlier her face was drawn tight with pain, now she looked so peaceful he couldn’t bare to disturb her.

“Oh honey, I love you so much…what will I do without you?” he whispered, his voice shaking with emotion. He watched her lips part slightly with each breath and remembered the day they first met.

“Sarah! Close your mouth, you look like a fish!” Mrs Coleman whispered gruffly to Sarah Gilmore.

Pink crept up Sarah’s face. She quickly snapped her mouth shut, but what else was she supposed to do. How else could she react, when this was the best looking boy she had ever seen? She stuck out her hand, and smiled to hide her embarrassment.

“How do you do?”

16 year old Nick Carter had never seen a girl as beautiful as Sarah Gilmore either, and he was having a problem keeping his dignity. He swallowed hard, and returned the handshake.

“Great thanks, and you?” he said with what he thought sounded mature and suave. It came out sounding the exact opposite, but it had the right effect.

Sarah forgot her embarrassment, and laughed out loud. Nick felt his face heat up but soon he too joined in. Her laugh was so pretty a sound, her smile so bright and sincere, he fell in love with her right then and there.

Sarah had already fallen for Nick. The minute he laughed along with her despite his own embarrassment, she’d developed a respect for him to go along with the tremendous crush she’d developed the moment she saw him across the room.

Mrs Coleman cleared her throat to remind the two teenagers of her presence. Her protective gaze swept over Sarah and she glared at Nick, as if daring him to ever hurt Sarah. But she had nothing to worry about; Nick had decided that he was never going to hurt Sarah, never in his life.

As Sarah left him that night to meet more of her father’s colleagues and contacts, Nick made a vow to himself. He was going to love Sarah Gilmore forever, and he was going to marry her.

~~End of flashback~~

Nick kept his vow, though it proved to be difficult despite their strong love for each other. Nick was always on tour, or doing some interview or another. He was always surrounded with girls, throwing themselves at him. It didn’t help that he was the youngest and cutest member of the Backstreet Boys.

Sarah on the other hand was living a pretty normal life. She went to school, had friends, went to her prom with a guy friend from school, and all the while she dreamt of Nick. She managed to see him about 5 times in 6 years, and that included every time the Backstreet Boys came into town, when she’d attend the concerts. No one knew she and Nick were acquainted. Sarah kept it quiet because she didn’t want anyone pestering her about Nick. They knew each other yes, but at that time, they were no more than acquaintances. She was totally ignoring the voice in her heart that screamed her love for him.

It wasn’t till Sarah’s 21st birthday party that they allowed their love for each other to become more than just a buried feeling in their hearts. She’d never looked so beautiful, and he’d never looked so handsome. He could still see her – her hair, soft brown, barely reaching her neck, her eyes shining as bright as the brightest star in the sky. The minute their eyes met, there was no more denying, no more pushing their feelings aside. Love had conquered all.

It didn’t matter what the fans thought, what management wanted him to say. It didn’t matter, none of it, because they had each other. Through ups and downs, fights and make ups, their love just grew stronger and stronger. Nick was ready for the second part of his vow.


28th January, 2007:
In the midst of loud ‘Happy Birthday’ wishes, Nick dragged an unsuspecting Sarah out of the club. Alone in the limo waiting outside, he turned to her suddenly serious. She’d been worried at first. He let out a small laugh as he recalled the concern in her eyes. ‘Honey, are you ok? What’s wrong?’ When he popped the question, her worry had turned instantly to one of surprise, then joy. She had looked so happy.

~~End of flashback~~

More tears welled up in his eyes threatening to fall. Impatiently, he dragged his hand across his face.

When did it start to fall apart? How did this happen?

“Sarah, maybe you’d better go to a specialist. That’s the third day in a row,” Nick said, concern etched in his face as he stroked her face.

Sarah just smiled weakly and replied, “Hey, it’s nothing. It could just be that I’m pregnant you know. When Mom was pregnant with me, she threw up and fainted too. Don’t worry, tomorrow I’ll see Dr Peterson.”

The thought that they might be parents soon brought an overwhelming sense of pride, contentment and ecstasy to Nick, that all bad thoughts completely left his mind. But the very next day, they would come rushing back.

“Mr Carter, your wife is very weak. We are still doing tests to confirm what exactly she is suffering from. As soon as we know, we will inform you. For now, she must rest. She will get the best possible care here. Don’t worry.”

So, they weren’t parents-to-be after all. Sarah was sick. Oh God……
~~End of flashback~~

Months later and still doctors could not find what the cause was for Sarah’s blackouts. A month-long stay in hospital had come up with naught but a long bill. Nick brought Sarah home and he employed a nurse to care for her 24/7. Still she grew weaker. And yet, everyday as her face lost some of its colour, she never lost her spirit; her love for life.

So why? Why would someone like Sarah be made to suffer? A million times these questions were asked, and never once could he think of an answer, but all Sarah would say was that everything had a reason, and things were meant to be. If only it was meant to be that Sarah be cured.

Sarah made a slight movement. Nick focused his gaze on her. For the next few seconds he held his breath. When it seemed as if she was merely stretching, he relaxed. How could he sleep, when every second that she was sleeping, was a second nearer to when she might just slip away. And he didn’t want to wake up in the morning to find his one and only love gone. No, how could he sleep?

He stretched out his legs and leaned back in the chair beside the bed. He started humming. Slowly, his tired eyes betrayed him. He slept.

The next morning, he jerked awake. Oh no…no…I fell asleep…Sarah…sweetie……….

Sarah stretched and opened her eyes. Paler than ever, there was a smile on her sweet, sweet face.

“Good morning,” she whispered.

Oh thank God, thank God.

“Good morning,” Nick whispered back, not able to speak properly.

Two weeks later:
Dr Mortenson, the doctor who came by every 3 days, was in the corner, talking with Nurse Marriane, the live-in nurse. Their faces were grave and brought no comfort to Nick. Sarah was too weak to even open her eyes. She lay on the bed, eyelids half closed, her breathing laboured. The doctors had finally concluded that it was a rare blood condition that had reduced the once vibrant, energetic bubbly Sarah to a weakened, bedridden Sarah. It was so rare that there was no cure. It was simply a matter of time.

When Nick heard that, he’d launched himself at Dr Mortenson. He’d wanted a second opinion and a third…Dr Mortenson had been forgiving and understanding, but was firm – Nick had to understand that what was happening to Sarah was going to get worse. Nick could not let himself get carried away with his own grief; he had to be calm, for Sarah.

It took a long lecture from AJ, Howie, Brian, and most of all Kevin. He’d broken down and cried for the first time in Kevin’s arms that night. He felt like a little boy again – the youngest member of the Backstreet Boys. Kevin had managed to make Nick see clearly, but he could not take the hurt away. All four friends wished with all their hearts they could do that, but they couldn’t. They could only be there for their friend, and offer comfort and prayer.

Nick was determined to make Sarah smile more. Every day he would think up things for them to do. He started with reading to her jokes from her favourite joke books. The first time she laughed out loud, though weak, was one of his happiest moments since she’d fallen ill. He continued to make her laugh, and for a while the idea of death seemed only a memory.

30th June 2013:
Nick awoke with an aching back. He’d fallen asleep in the chair again. He immediately checked to see if Sarah was breathing, a habit now. She was, but with great difficulty. He saw her eyelids flutter. Her eyes opened, just barely. He bent forward to plant a soft kiss on her forehead.

“Nick, could you sing for me?” she spoke so quietly, Nick might not have heard had he not been so close to her lips. He seemed a little surprised. The past few weeks, she’d asked him to sing her to sleep, not when she’d just woken up. But he would do anything for her.

He was about to begin Westlife’s Queen Of My Heart, since it was one of Sarah’s favourite. Sarah gave a little shake of her head, which proved very tiring because she groaned.

“Oh honey, I don’t sing that bad do I?” Nick said shakily, pretending to be hurt. His attempt at lightening the mood worked and that beautiful smile of hers appeared.

“Sing that song, Nick, the one I love, the chorus,” her voice was barely audible.

What, why that song? Why now? I wish I didn’t remember it…………..

“Please…,” came her plea.

Holding back the tears, he began the chorus.

If you get there before I do,
Don’t give up on me.
I’ll be there when my chores are through,
I don’t know how long I’ll be.
I won’t let you down,
Darling, wait and see.
And between now and then,
Till I see you again,
I’ll be loving you…
Love, Me.

Tears were falling now, unstoppable. Sarah reached out a trembling hand and gently cupped Nick’s cheek.

“I’ll never give up on you, Nick. I’ll wait for you,” she murmured.

And with those last words, she closed her eyes and her hand fell away. Nick looked with disbelief at the limp hand. He called out her name over and over, tried to revive her, but her eyes would not open. He cried out in pain, his body wrecked with sobs. He would never see her smile again. Those beautiful eyes of hers would never open and look into his.

Sarah had been gone a week and Nick was slowly coming to terms with his loss. He stood by her grave, remembering the girl he’d fallen in love with and the woman she’d become.

I won’t let you down,
Darling wait and see.
And between now and then,
Till I see you again,
I’ll be loving you…
Love, Me.

I won’t let you down, Sarah. We’ll meet again, someday, my love.

The End

Song: Love, Me by Colin Raye.