To Forgive Yourself by AleXandra Danielle Paris
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Category: General
Genres: Angst, Drama
Rated: Pre-Teen
Warnings: None
Series: None
Summary: Jack reflects on how he feels in the past and present over the death of his son.

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Jonathan O'Neill, or Jack as family and friends called him, knelt in front of his son's gravestone. The loss of his only child weighed heavy upon his soul and he wondered how difficult it must have been for his friend, Teal'c, to have left his son and wife behind on Chulak. Jack stared blindly at the epitaph carved into the granite as he traced the letters with his fingers. He found himself still wavering between understanding and confusion over his son's death. If only he could have saved his son's life, he would have gladly taken the bullet. But he didn't have that luxury. He would never forgive himself for leaving that loaded gun in the house. He should have realized that Charlie was at a curious age and had started playing with things around the house that he shouldn't be touching. Jack now wished he had removed the gun from the house, but its purpose was to protect his family, especially when he was away on a mission. That was the cause of their marital troubles. He realized now Sarah blamed him for getting the gun in the first place while he blamed himself. Yet, a small hidden part blamed his wife. His need to protect his family had cost him his son.

Charlie had been such a good boy...clever, so full of life and so inquisitive. Perhaps, had he taught him the dangers that a gun can possess or how to treat a gun with respect, he wouldn't have played with it. Then again, Jack had been so afraid if he had taught him how to use a gun, something else would have gone wrong. The irony that it might have saved his son's life had not escaped him.

Right after the incident, Jack recalled the priest trying to comfort him by saying Charlie was in Heaven and when God called you it didn't matter what your age was. Jack didn't care, he withdrew into his shell, he would never be the same, his son was dead. He grew sick of the people saying, "It's so sad when parents outlive their children," or "Charlie was too young to die." Each time he heard those words, a touch of his soul was eaten away and died with Charlie.

Jack had faced the fact that Sarah was angry with him since it was he who caused their son's death. He had been the one to create all her sorrow that she would carry for the rest of her life. He didn't deserve her forgiveness, even when she finally forgave him. Jack had found himself closed off from the world. He stayed at home more and more watching the Heavens from atop his private little world. As he studied the night sky through his telescope, he yearned for death...a simple wish to join his son. One bullet would do the trick.

Fortunately, the Airforce provided him with the opportunity he was seeking, a chance at death. He would die in service of his country. Sarah wouldn't have to deal with his suicide and in time, she would move on with her life. She had accepted their son's death, something he himself couldn't find, or wanted. He needed the self-hatred. He needed to blame somebody and he was the easiest target. He had just been handed the opportunity of a lifetime...to die with honor and glory. Col. Jack O'Neill had no choice but to accept.

Looking back at it now, Jack chuckled softly to himself. Or was the chuckle meant for Dr. Daniel Jackson, who had botched the whole mission. By not being able to get the rest of his men back through the Stargate, the mission had to be altered. It was this geeky scientist whom Jack now called friend made him realize he didn't want to die. One simple comment made by Jackson while on Abydos. "I don't want to die, your men don't want to die and these people don't want to die. It's a shame you're in such a hurry to." It was only later that he had found out that the young doctor had lived his life on the other foot, outliving his parents.

To this day, Jack still had trouble dealing with Charlie's death, and yet, he finally found some acceptance even if he still couldn't forgive himself. He laid the single white rose on the grave and fought back tears. "I miss you, Charlie," he said aloud. Suddenly, Jack heard the rustling of leaves behind him. He turned to see Sarah approaching down the path towards the grave. Given this chance, maybe he would talk to her.
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