Fan Fiction - Written by Doug Fowler - Book & Television Universe

We'll Miss You, Pam Tanner
Written by: Doug Fowler

A/N: I wrote this to explain the office in the 4th bedroom in the books and how it might have gotten there, yet there is none in the TV series (and Steph's more wiling to tease Kimmy a lot more on TV, and in fact says she "hates her" in "Just One of the Guys," a first season ep., and she never teases her by the time we see her in the books, though she might have a little earlier). It also shows a bit more in the life of Pam Tanner. Yes, there was a Sesame Street episode like the one mentioned. You can read about it (and read the book) under "soapbox" at toughpigs dot com in fact - I found it there while surfing for info. Some of the flashbacks are extensions of ideas I submitted to "Pam's Diary" at "Full House Forever."

Michelle Tanner, nine, sat in a large, comfy chair, across from two small beds. She was in part of the attic apartment shared by her Uncle Jesse, Aunt Becky, and their boys, Nicky and Alex. As she sometimes did (for she loved to copy her older sisters, who could babysit) she was helping to put her four-year-old cousins to bed while their parents worked on their taxes. She laughed to herself while thinking about that, and Becky's chuckle when she'd asked Michelle to help. Michelle's dad's best friend, Joey Gladstone, also lived in the home, in the basement apartment. And, he'd used "doing their taxes" once as a euphemism. But, Jesse and Becky actually were doing their taxes this evening.

Jesse and his family and Joey lived in the house because Michelle's mom had died in a car accident when she was a baby. Her dad, Danny Tanner, had asked Jesse - then single - and Joey to come help him raise Michelle, Stephanie - then five - and D.J., who had been ten.

"Read us this one," Nicky commanded as he and his twin brother came in the door and quickly climbed onto her lap.

"Why did it take so long to find a book?" she asked absently.

"It wasn't in our bookcase," Alex explained as Michelle read the cover.

"It wasn't even in our apartment," Nicky added. They'd been in several rooms on the second floor, including Danny's office.

Alex looked at Michelle's uncertain expression. "Can't you read it, either?" he asked.

Michelle giggled, the same delighted giggle that reminded everyone of her mother. "Yeah, right. Look, this book...have you ever had it read to you before?" The boys shook their heads. She supposed she could read it to them - but it was a special one, in a way. She thought Jesse and Becky might want to read it to them.

"We never saw it," Nicky announced.

"But, it's got Big Bird on the cover," Alex added.

"Yeah, I know. It's just...well, your dad might want to be the one to read it to you. I remember having it read to me a few times when I was your age, or maybe a bit older, when we'd talk about my mom."

"Is it about Aunt Pam?" Nicky asked.

"No, it...come on." She rose. When the boys didn't want to follow her, but insisted on having her read the book, she explained. "If your parents say 'yes,' you might get to stay up a little later." That sent the tots scurrying out of the bedroom and running downstairs to find their parents and have them read the book. Michelle snickered and casually followed.

Jesse and Becky were in the living room with Danny, going over old tax returns, when the boys rushed up to them. "Read this. Michelle says if you say 'yes' we get to stay up later," Alex asserted.

"Oh, she did, did she?" Jesse asked with a mix of curiosity and suspicion. Had his boys been bugging her and Michelle had said this to stop them? No - it appeared that she just figured it would be more special for them to read it. The book's cover said, "I'll Miss You, Mr. Hooper."

Danny looked, too. "Yeah, you know, she's right, Jess, that's a good one to read together." Smiling wistfully, he said, "I remember when Pam died, Steph wanted me to read that one to her quite a bit. It was really hard for me to talk about Pam in the weeks after the accident without getting choked up all the time; or even about anyone dying. But, it always helped us to be able to talk about our feelings. Even though she could read herself by then, she still only felt comfortable having me read it to her."

"Yeah, they did a good job with that book. Look, boys, I think this is a little too advanced for you," Jesse said protectively as Michelle came down the steps, still in her play clothes; she'd planned to take a shower after putting the boys to bed.

"Oh, come on, Jess, they have to get used to it sometime," Becky said. "Danny got used to talking about it with Steph and Michelle."

"Well, sort of. Actually, D.J. had to push me to talk about death with Michelle after her goldfish died that one time; otherwise we might never have talked about it," Danny confessed. "I bought all those goldfish to replace Martin instead of helping her cope right away." He always hated to see his girls grow up.

Becky said, "And, I think D.J. made a wise decision. Come on, it'll take a few readings to really help them fully understand the concept, but it's a fact of life." She looked at the paperwork in front of them. "Besides, it's a lot better than having to think about taxes."

"Yeah, I guess you're right."

"Is Aunt Pam in here?" Nicky asked Jesse, looking inside the book. He figured his dad would know, even if Michelle avoided it.

"No, son, but...I think maybe it's a good time to sort of reminisce about her. Come on, let's go upstairs and read this," he said. As he and Becky each carried a boy upstairs, Jesse asked, "How did you find that book, anyway?"

"It wasn't easy."

"There was stuff on top of it in Uncle Danny's office," Alex added.

Becky chuckled as they, Danny, and Michelle entered the main room of their attic apartment and sat on the couch. "I have a feeling you were stalling by exploring before bedtime. Your dad's just about as protective as your Uncle Danny sometimes."

"Aw come on, Beck, I'd never buy a bunch of goldfish like Danny did," Jesse responded. And, in a way, it was true - he hadn't hidden the book totally out of protectiveness. Part of him was reminded of Pam's death when he read the book, and he didn't like to let anyone see him get emotional if he could help it.

"That wasn't one of my better ideas, I'll admit. But, D.J. always knew when to step in," Danny admitted. Indeed, his oldest daughter had had to put Michelle in timeout or remove privileges herself when Michelle was naughty for quite a while once Michelle got to that age where she'd have to be disciplined, because Danny hated to think of her growing up. The motherly bond D.J. had formed with Michelle was a tremendous one that had really helped Michelle mature into a nice, polite, compassionate young lady, who was now fourth grade class president. D.J. had never had any major problems with Michelle, thankfully, because she was so proactive.

Michelle agreed that D.J. had done a great job of filling in, as the boys got on Jesse's lap, Becky and Danny sat on either side of him, and Michelle sat in Danny's lap on the couch in their "living room," which was also their bedroom in the small apartment.

Jesse began to read. "Okay, the name of this book is 'I'll Miss You, Mr. Hooper.' This here's about the time Big Bird learned about Mr. Hooper dying, just like your Aunt Pam did. Now, are you absolutely sure you want to read this?"

They nodded. "Don't we get to stay up later?" Nicky asked.

"Yeah, we'll probably be up half the night reminiscing about her after this," Jesse said grudgingly. "Now...okay, I'm not going to get as nervous as your Uncle Danny did over that episode of Sesame Street."

"That'd be hard to do," Danny admitted with a sad smile. "Pam was right - I was a basket case over nothing when we learned Sesame Street was going to air that episode on Thanksgiving back in '83," he said. And, as Jesse read, the family reminisced, and shared with Nicky and Alex about Pam's death, and what it meant to die, but more importantly, about Pam's life.

Six-year-old D.J. Tanner walked up to their mom in her bedroom complaining. "Stephanie keeps getting in my stuff. Can I put her in timeout?" The toddler, now about 22 months, followed D.J. like a puppy.

"Oh, D.J., do you really want to do that to your adorable little sister?" Pam asked tenderly.

"Yes." D.J. put her hands on her hips. "And, I'm tired of hearing how she's soooo cute. It's soooo disgusting."

"Well, let's talk about this," Pam said. She called to Danny downstairs and asked if he would watch Stephanie. Once he took her and promised to play with her while also talking on the phone, Pam and D.J. went back upstairs and sat up on D.J.'s bed. "Honey, I know it's rough with a baby around."

"You said you'd be putting her in timeout soon. Let's start now."

Pam nodded. "I did, I said we would for really dangerous stuff, a few things at a time. Like next month when we have all our decorations up for Christmas. If she tries to pull the tree down, she's going to have to sit in a little chair in the alcove, then we'll gradually move her to a step leading upstairs, then to being in her room as punishment."

"I don't care about the Christmas tree. I care about my stuff."

"I know. But, why do you think we punish you?"

"I don't know," D.J. said with a shrug. "'Cause I've been bad, I guess."

"Right." Pam squeezed her gently, knowing D.J. probably felt a little sad thinking about that. "It's hard for us. I know that's hard for you to understand right now, but it is. And, because it's so hard for us, it's something only parents or guardians, or teachers...okay, only adults who are in charge should do."

D.J. smiled broadly; though she wouldn't usually test such rules, she felt tempted at times to try. "What about babysitters?"

"Babysitters too," Pam said with a laugh. "Someone who can do it with love..."

"But, I love Stephanie," D.J. countered.

"Hey, let me finish, huh?" she said with only a hint of sternness. "I mean, someone who can do it with love, and not selfishly. Like your teachers - they don't love you like Daddy or I, but they know what's right, and care about helping you learn right from wrong. So, in that way they do love you, even though it's not the kind of love Daddy or I have."

"Oh, yeah, what did you call what you have - unconditional?"

"That's the word," Pam said excitedly, glad to see D.J.'s vocabulary improving so much. Like her, D.J. always wanted to be the best. "Now, if something ever happened to me, then you might have to," she joked, trying to be as lighthearted as possible, so as not to scare D.J. into thinking something could happen to her. "If only till Daddy got the hang of things, since I'm the one who's home with you all the time. But, seriously, would you really want to make your sister upset by punishing her?"

D.J. sighed. She knew her mom was right; she could tell her parents never liked doing it, and she didn't like being sent to her room, either. "No, I guess not."

"It takes a very sharp person to be able to discipline consistently and lovingly. I've tried really hard, because I always want to be the best; and, I know you do, too." She agreed heartily. "So, right now, D.J., you let me handle timeouts and stuff, and don't demand it for every little thing. Because right here, what we're doing, that's the most important thing. Not how well you punish, but how well you talk to your children, and help them understand that way."

"Okay, Mommy," she said as they embraced.

Once they walked downstairs, Danny looked up from a board with magnetic letters and numbers Stephanie and he were playing with and said, "It's no use. They've gotten my letters and calls, and they're still not budging."

"Who's not, Daddy?" D.J. asked.

"'s PBS. You know, I was thinking, that new video camera we got, I think during Sesame Street tomorrow, we should just plop a home movie in and watch it instead."

"Daddy, why do you keep not wanting me to watch Sesame Street tomorrow?'

"Well...there's a very good reason. Tell her, Pam."

Pam giggled and shook her head. "Oh, Danny, you are just so silly."

"Hey, I'm just trying to protect her," Danny said defensively.

"Protect me from what? Is Cookie Monster going to get sick from eating the garbage in Oscar's trash can?" D.J. wondered. From how much of a neat freak her dad was, she knew something gross like garbage could make him very nervous.

"Well, it's a little more serious than that, Dear," Pam said. "It's about Mr. Hooper."

D.J. thought for a second while Danny tried to distract her. "Yeah, where is he? He hasn't been there for a while, has he?"

"Honey, do we have to now? I mean, it's Thanksgiving tomorrow, we're supposed to be building happy memories."

Pam knelt down next to Danny, and put an arm around him. "Honey, I know it's scary," she whispered. "But, I promise, I'm going to do my best to be around for a long, long time."

Danny smiled as they embraced. He didn't like to admit it. But, she could read him just as well as she read their girls. She knew he hated to think of losing anyone, especially her or his girls. "Well...if you think it's best, Pam. If D.J. feels up to it," he hedged.

"Sure. Mr. Hooper and all those other Muppets may have started after we were too old to enjoy it; but they're just as much a part of our lives, too, with us having children. It's something we should all share."

Danny agreed. Maybe Pam was right. He figured she was; she always seemed to know what was best.

Actor Will Lee, who had played the lovable, grandfatherly Mr. Hooper of Hooper's Store, had passed away earlier. And now, that next day, Sesame Street was airing a special where Big Bird had drawn a picture of him - as well as one of each of the other human characters - and went to show him his, only to be told he wasn't there. Danny, Pam, and D.J. were among millions watching it that day after dinner, with Stephanie napping and Jesse having left on his motorcycle; Joey was with his mom this Thanksgiving.

"Deej, are you sure you don't want to change channels?"

She shushed Danny. She wanted to watch. "Let me listen."

"Big Bird...Mr. Hooper's not coming back," Susan said on the TV. D.J. looked up - even Pam had tears in her eye. By the end, the family was cuddling together. As the final street scenes faded away moments later, with Big Bird getting a chance to see a couple's newborn baby, they began talking about their own memories and fun times, and how Big Bird probably felt, and what loss meant. It was a little easier for D.J. to understand, of course, being six-and-a-half. But, it was still a great time to discuss things..

Pam was a little relieved, too - though not nearly as much as Danny - after the episode, and the time they spent talking. It really made them all think about what it was like to have a part missing. She knew Danny would pull through for the girls. But, a part of her wondered if D.J. might not have to step in and help correct Stephanie, or any future kids who came along, for a month or two just till Danny got his bearings.

Whatever happened, she had to hand it to the folks at PBS. They did a better job than she could have hoped teaching children about a subject that's very touching, very special. Danny still wasn't totally sure, but Pam was certain they'd done the right thing.

"Yeah," Danny said with a sigh back in the present, "Pam always seemed to know the right thing to do. She was the best wife, the best mother..."

"The best sister..." Jesse muttered.

"Were you really that nervous, Dad?" Michelle asked.

"I was. Pam wrote about that in her diary, and we talked about how she wondered if D.J. might have to help - well, as it turned out, she helped more with you than Pam or I could have imagined she'd have to. But, of course, Uncle Jesse and Joey did a lot, too; and, without that office, Jesse's in that bedroom, and who knows, maybe you'd take after him more. But, we all really worked together in a great way."

"How come this book's different?" Nicky asked. He noticed the book ended with Big Bird in his nest remembering, and not with the final street scene that Danny recalled.

Jesse answered quickly. "Well, 'cause the show was his story; it was how Big Bird remembered someone he loved. And, when a kid like you's readin' it, well, that's when you continue it by filling in your own memories of someone."

"But, we don't remember Aunt Pam," Alex insisted.

"Neither do I," Michelle told them. "But, that's why we talk about her, so I can learn, and imagine what it was like. I've heard some great stories."

"Yeah, like your Uncle Danny's office?" Becky said. "Well, that used to be a guest bedroom, till...well, actually, your dad or D.J. should be telling this."

"I'll go get D.J.." Michelle jumped off Danny's lap, then ran downstairs, and came back up with D.J. and Stephanie, explaining along the way. "Nicky and Alex found that book, about Mr. Hooper's death. We were sharing memories of Mom with them."

"Cool. There sure are some good ones," D.J. said, happy to have a break from studying for her new semester in college. She sat in a chair, and Michelle squeezed in beside the nineteen-year-old, while Stephanie, fourteen, pushed aside the science test she'd been thinking about that would come Friday, and plopped onto the bed. "I remember the day that office was planned. It was a special day for another reason, of course; except it was hard for me to get a word in at first."

Pam entered the back door with 3-year-old Stephanie and D.J., who had recently turned eight, one Sunday around noon. D.J.'s friend from school, Kimmy, who they'd picked up for church, entered behind them. They weren't totally consistent churchgoers even in these days, but they still enjoyed going at times, and would afterward, too, with at least some consistency, though not as much.

Pam figured Danny had been cleaning all morning, as he loved to do. But, when she saw diagrams and papers with numbers laying on the kitchen table, she knew her husband had been up to something else.

"Dad, guess what" and two "Honey, guess what"s sprang from D.J.'s, Pam's, and Danny's lips simultaneously.

"Wow, you people talk in stereo," Kimmy asserted. "Now, if only you could put a rock and roll beat to it. Maybe you could call your uncle, Deej - the one with all the hair," Kimmy suggested.

Pam looked lovingly at Kimmy, who hadon a messy, tie dye shirt from the sixties and hand-me-down sneakers from her brother, which were quite gaudy. Their church wasn't large enough to have a large bus fleet. Still, D.J.'s second grade classmate was one that D.J. always liked to invite to church with them when they went; and Kimmy often accepted, rather than sit at home and be bored.

"Well...Jesse's usually hard to find," Pam said politely. Kimmy had seen Jesse last Christmas when she rode her bike over.

"That's okay, I could wait. It's either that, or watch my dad walk around in his underwear while my mom tries to hypnotize him to shave her back," Kimmy asserted.

That is one weird family, D.J. said to herself as she reminded Kimmy what she'd told her. "He just comes around once a year, maybe twice, and gives us presents."

"Right; anyway, look at this, Pam," Danny said as Pam got Stephanie the last of a bunch of grapes to munch on out of the refrigerator. "What we need is an office; we can use that guest bedroom up there, so there'll be one less bed to make since nobody ever uses it."

"Hey, everyone, I have something to say, too," D.J. said as Pam studied the drawing Danny had made.

Kimmy wasn't paying attention to D.J.. She interrupted with, "Mrs. Tanner, my mom wanted to know if I can stay for lunch. Actually, she wanted to know if I could stay for about a week."

Pam looked at Kimmy, a little concerned - if there were major problems, she and Danny would certainly consider letting her for a few days. "Why, what's going on at your house?"

"Nothing, Mrs. Tanner. She said it would just be a lot easier."

Danny shook his head as Pam said, "Honey, you can come whenever, but it's also good to know how not to overstay your welcome. Lunch is fine - a week is a bit much." Even Kimmy was infected by Pam's giggling as she considered such a long stay.

"Anyway, guys, I have some great news..."

"Oh, yeah, listen to D.J.'s news!" Pam interrupted excitedly, suddenly recalling what it was.

D.J. laughed at all the interruptions, then finally announced, "I asked Jesus into my heart today!"

"Honey, that's wonderful!" Danny said as he gave her a bug hug. "Did she understand? Are you sure she knows what that means?" he asked Pam swiftly.

"She did, Danny. We talked about the bad things we all do on the way home, and she understands the choice she made."

"I trusted Jesus to forgive me because he died for me and rose again and now I'm going to Heaven when I die." D.J. turned to Kimmy and quickly added, "You should do that, too."

Pam smiled broadly and whispered as she touched D.J.'s shoulder. "She'll do it when she's ready, Dear, don't push things. Just keep being that great example, and giving away those smiles."

Kimmy was quite slow in understanding things - she would do what D.J. did, but it would be a few years later. As for now, she asked, "So, Mr. Tanner, you're building an office. What kind? Maybe you can make a dentist's office so you can drill people's teeth." She made a buzzing sound like a drill, then pointed at Stephanie while slowly walking toward her.

"Mommy!" Stephanie cried as she ran to Pam. Pam simply told Kimmy to be nice, and suggested the girls play outside while she made lunch. They did.

"Anyway, this would be great for my work as a sportscaster, and also whatever else I end up doing later at the station," Danny said excitedly. Noticing Pam's skeptical look, he promised, "I'll dust the desk every day, I'll keep my papers from piling up, I'll keep everything very tidy, you won't need to worry about a thing."

Laughing out loud now, Pam chided Danny, "You make it sound like you're one of the girls bringing home a puppy, the way you promise to take care of it."

"What? They haven't brought home a puppy, have they?" Danny said anxiously, fearing the dirt that could result.

"No, silly. But you don't have to make all these promises. Let's just talk about why we might need one, what the cost would be, and so on."

After a few minutes of discussing as they collaborated on lunch, D.J., Stephanie, and Kimmy ran into the house all talking at once.

"Whoa, wait, slow down," Danny instructed, "I don't speak gibberish."

"Kimmy almost made me stick a bead up my nose!" Stephanie declared.

"Oh, honey, are you okay," Pam said, bending down and looking at her nose. "You didn't do it, did you!"

"It's okay, Mom, I stopped her just in time."

"Oh, thank goodness, D.J.; you know, we might have had to take you to the hospital if you'd done that, Stephanie."

"The what!" Stephanie shrieked as Danny knelt beside her as well.

"The hospital," Pam continued anxiously - like Stephanie, she always got very excited about things. "Oh, and then we'd be waiting there all day and you'd be so bored, and they'd have had to use tweezers or something to get it out."

"Ewwww, tweezers? Like those things you get splinters out with?"

Danny squeezed her and said, "Oh, it's okay, my little ladybug. It's all right." He breathed heavily and said, "Thanks, Deej."

"Now, it wasn't Kimmy's fault..."

Pam knew D.J. was afraid her friend might get blamed. So, she quickly and quietly assured her, "Nobody said it was, Dear."

"I say it was!" Stephanie shouted.

"Sorry, Mrs. Tanner, Mr. Tanner. Stephanie just wondered what one of those little beads she had in her sandbox would feel like in her nose, and I suggested she stick it up there and try it. I didn't know it would be that bad," she said lowly.

Danny was about to say something, but he knew it wasn't right to blame her - she was only in second grade. Still, he did think she should know better than to test a three-year-old like that.

"It's okay, Kimmy, I understand; I know you didn't mean to make her do that. I hope that teaches you to listen to your friend D.J. more often, though," Pam advised her. She knew from stories D.J. told of Kimmy in school that Kimmy greatly disliked thinking.

"Yeah, it's a good thing you did listen," D.J. said, a little upset herself at Kimmy, and letting it show now that she knew she didn't have to defend her.

Pam sensed that, too; she quietly spoke to all three girls about forgiveness - as best as she could to the three-year-old, anyway - and why it was important. Finally, she got the girls to agree not to hold any grudges against Kimmy; though she knew it would have been much harder, especially for Stephanie, if she'd actually stuck the bead up her nose.

D.J. then turned to Danny. "So, we might get an office? But, what if you and Mom have another baby?"

"Another baby?" Stephanie asked, shocked.

Danny said that it would be nice to have another child or two. "We can just put a baby in with Stephanie for a while, and if it's a boy, eventually the girls can share a room, or we can remodel the attic for someone. I've already called a few office supply places that are open on Sundays, and have plans for just how to do things."

Pam shook her head, totally amazed at Danny. "I know this might be a dream, just like the boat you mentioned once, but...can't it just be a dream for a while longer?"

"Honey, I don't like being at the station all the time. If I do set up this office, it means more time with you and the girls. And, that's what's important."

"Well, okay, I guess," Pam said. She knew that if Stephanie had gotten the bead up her nose, it would have distracted Danny and they might never had gotten back to thinking about an office in the fourth bedroom. Indeed, she still worried a little about Jesse, though at 22 he wasn't quite as wild as in his younger days he was still wild. And, they'd agreed that if something went really wrong, since he didn't drink or do drugs or anything that bad, rather than make him live on the streets they'd let him move in with them for a while.

But, now Danny's mind seemed set on an office. And, what's more, it did seem like a nice idea. It was a nice playroom, but the house and yard were plenty big enough for a growing family to have enough room for their toys. Even if some of those "toys" were her husband's.

"So, you really want an office, huh?"

"Yeah. Not just for me, either," Danny made sure to say.

Pam flung her arms around him and said, "Well, okay, if you promise it's going to help you be around a little more, if we can afford it. I'd like to make sure of some of those costs, but after lunch, maybe we can drop Kimmy off, leave the girls with my parents, and go shopping." It was a wild idea. But, she supposed that, while she wasn't the wild and crazy Jesse, she still had some wildness in her - she and Danny had eloped, after all.

Sensing she was out of the doghouse after D.J. - and, grudgingly, Stephanie - accepted her apology, Kimmy teased, "Hey, it's smooch time. Better keep this place away from the steak and onions, 'cause it's becoming one great big mush room."

Stephanie looked on as Jesse and Becky kissed. "You and Mom were always really close, just like that, huh, Dad?"

"We sure were," he said with a sad smile.

"That was so typical. She always seemed to know how to settle our arguments," D.J. noted.

"Hey, where is everyone?"

"We're up here," Danny called to Joey, who had come to the second floor looking for people after coming home from shopping early that evening and putting away the groceries. Once Joey arrived, Danny explained. "Jesse and Becky decided to read the boys that book about Mr. Hooper's death on Sesame Street, and now we're just reminiscing about Pam." Joey took a seat beside Stephanie.

"Well, they sort of decided for us," Jesse noted. He fingered the cross necklace he often wore. It had been Pam's the kind either a man or woman would wear. He supposed it could have gone to any of the girls, but they hadn't wanted them to fight over it, and Danny had wanted Jesse to have it right after the funeral, even before they talked about his moving in. He knew it would be a nice reminder of her back before he'd moved in and discovered the most precious reminders of all - the great memories that would be provided by helping to raise his nieces.

Joey chuckled. "Yeah, kids that age are so enthusiastic about everything. Just like when Michelle heard you were having Nicky and Alex, I still remember she was their age, and named the baby 'Big Bird,'" he said with a laugh.

"You named us Big Bird!" Nicky asked tiredly.

"Why not Cookie Monster," Alex inquired.

Stephanie teased, "We already had one cookie monster in the family" as she looked at Michelle, who laughed, too.

"I remember that. Then I didn't know what to call you once we learned you were twins."

"There could be two cookie monsters," Nicky said, his eyelids drooping a little. He tried to keep them open.

D.J. suggested they could have called them Bert and Ernie. "But, even without that, it is a funny story. It's great to tell things like that."

"Yeah. That's how we make great memories, you know. We talk about these things enough, we do feel like we remember her, even if we never met her," Becky said.

"I know I do," Michelle said, casting a special smile toward D.J., who she felt was quite a bit like Pam. D.J. lovingly squeezed her.

"It's said she isn't here," Alex added.

Danny agreed. "We still miss her. Even though we have faith we'll see her again. But, what D.J. was sharing, about how Pam always wanted to be the best, you can see that in D.J., just like we see that smile and laugh that Michelle has, and like you see Steph with how excited she gets."

"Right. Like one story I remember hearing..." Becky began.

Pam could hardly wait for her nine-year-old and four-year-old girls to join her after sending Danny to fetch them. She put the phone down and bounced with excitement as Danny brought the girls in from the backyard into the living room.

"Mom, Dad said you had some great news for us," D.J. said as she and Stephanie stood in front of her.

"Yeah, I do." Pam sat and took the girls' hands in hers. "Guess what Mommy has growing inside her."

"Another baby!" D.J. wondered.

Stephanie didn't even wait for Pam to nod. She was way more excited than D.J.. She pumped her fists in the air and jumped, her curls flopping in the breeze. "A baby! Oh, boy! I'm gonna be...I'm gonna be..." Her mouth hung open for several seconds, her fists frozen in mid-pump, then she quickly turned to D.J.. "D.J., what am I gonna be?"

"A big sister," D.J. explained as Pam and Danny laughed out loud and hugged the girls. "Does this mean we have to put Stephanie in my room since that office is there now?" she continued, a little worried.

"Well, maybe for a little while, once the baby's old enough to need her own room for a while..." Pam hedged. She was unsure.

"Definitely if it's a boy," Danny asserted.

Pam wasn't so sure. "I think a baby boy could sleep in Stephanie's room for a little while...but, yeah, I guess eventually."

"Well, boy or girl, you are going to make the best big sister there ever was," D.J. said enthusiastically. "You can even read to the baby now, you can help with everything - well, I'm sure Dad's gonna say 'except diapers.' But, you can play games, you can spend all your time in your room helping that little one grow."

Stephanie looked suspiciously at D.J.. "Are you trying to get rid of me?"

"I think she's just getting a little older, Steph, and maybe thinking about Kimmy and her family moving next door this summer, once they get the house fixed up; that widow, Mrs. Zimmer, always had trouble keeping it up, so they're going to be able to buy it fairly cheap compared to what it might have cost. She'll still have time for you, though, right, Deej?" Danny asked.

"Sure. I just love the fact that now, Stephanie will have something to do instead of trying to tag along with us all the time." She picked up a book. "Here, let's see you read to the baby."

"Can the baby hear me?" Stephanie wondered incredulously.

Pam laughed. "Sweetheart, the baby can hear just fine."

"Yes, there's a little room in there that has sound piped into it like on an intercom," Danny invented, unsure of how it worked, except that he'd heard babies could hear voices.

"Mmmm, okay." Stephanie was skeptical, but she figured she'd go along with it. She read the cover as she got on her mom's lap. "The Cat in the Hat" she read slowly, also reading a few pages in the book.

"You sure are getting good at that," D.J. said, grinning proudly. She didn't want to admit it, but she knew Pam had been right last Christmas when she told D.J. not to push Stephanie too hard. She'd seemed ready to read for a while, then D.J.'s pushing had made her lose interest. Now, with Stephanie doing it on her own, she was really doing well.

"There's some of Aunt Pam in all of us?" Alex asked, now as sleepy as his brother.

"Yeah, there is," Jesse said softly. "Even in me. I didn't hang around much, but what I saw when I did, I tried to copy once I moved in here. I needed lots of help and encouragement, but I think I've done a pretty good job."

"You sure do." Each of the boys hugged and kissed him.

"So, you see, even when she's not with us, there's a part of her that is. Just like Big Bird will always have a part of Mr. Hooper with him," Danny said.

"Yep. Well, Beck, I think we better get these boys to bed." He and Becky each picked up one of the twins. "As it is now, they'll probably be asleep before we cross the room to their room."

As Jesse and Becky tucked the twins into bed, the others sat out in the main attic apartment, still thinking. "That really is special, that we remember her so well," Joey said. She'd laugh at my jokes no matter what."

"Yeah, I know." Danny picked up the book and gazed casually at it. "And, she was always so full of energy, so full of life." The girls joined Danny on the couch, with Michelle climbing onto his lap again. "I knew I had to be strong for you girls, but, I didn't even have a whole lot of interest in cleaning for a while, then I just went overboard for a while. Pam was a lot closer than Mr. Hooper was to Big Bird, of course. But, there was a lot of the same nature, the same warmth and caring. It really helped when Pam died to have something like this, just so I could answer some of the questions. After all, I'm the one, when Mom and I tried to explain the birds and the bees, who kept stalling and asking if it was too complex." D.J. smiled at the memory. "I didn't know how I could do some things without her helping, but, I guess we managed."

Danny had finished reading the book to Stephanie a few days after Pam had died. It was the second time they'd read it.

"Big Bird's right; it's not fair." Danny solemnly agreed with the five-year-old as he cuddled her. "Why couldn't Mommy live as old as Mr. Hooper?"

"Well...I don't know, honey," Danny said, fighting back tears himself.

"But, there has to be a reason."

"Well...yeah, yeah, there does." He fidgeted, knowing this was the time he'd always ask Pam to help. "And, well, some people just are born with longer times here on Earth, and...some don't have as long."

"But, why?"

"Well...I guess 'just because.'"

Stephanie looked incredulously at him - he was her daddy, he was supposed to know these thigns. "You just got that from the book," she complained.

"I did, I know." Kissing her on the forehead, he said, "Honey, there really isn't a good answer as to why some Mommies don't make it home from a simple shopping trip. I struggle with it, too. But, we know it's all going to work out okay, right."

"If you say so," Stephanie said doubtfully. After a pause, she said for the umpteenth time, it seemed, since the accident, "We really won't see her again ever?" with tears in her voice.

"Not till we die and get to Heaven. It's hard, I know," he agreed. "But, just like Big Bird did, we just have to remember the good times, and how Mommy would want us to carry on."

Stephanie looked sadly at the picture of Big Bird, alone in his nest, thinking about Mr. Hooper. It looked a lot like she felt - sad and alone, even with a loving family there still with her. She really couldn't put it into words, how much she missed her mother; she only knew that at least her dad was still there. The hardest part seemed to be, at times, that he couldn't make it all better himself.

But, as she thought of the loving, compassionate mother who had lost her life recently, and all the warm happy memories the family had shared, she knew he could for at least a little while.

"I love you Daddy," she said as she sniffled. Danny hugged her tightly, wishing himself their embrace didn't have to end. He wanted to protect his children from everything, but especially from awful things like death.

The girls and Danny hugged for a moment back in the present, as they talked about Pam. They had gotten through it - Danny had struggled at times, but they had managed. The incredible emptiness he'd felt at first, losing the love of his life, wasn't nearly as intense as it had been almost nine years ago, of course.

Danny glanced at the book on their coffee table once more. It was true - they saw her in their memories, he saw her in each of his girls. There was so much wonderful about her that helped him feel like she was still there with him, in a way. And yet, the feeling he'd tried to hide by focusing on cleaning all the time would always be there a little. Looking up toward Heaven, he . "We've made it this far. We've done pretty well, I guess."

"Yeah, we have," Stephanie agreed excitedly.

"I think Mom still watches us," Michelle spoke confidently.

"You're probably right, pumpkin," Danny posited. "And, I guess your Uncle Jesse's right, about where the book ends. Because, we really continue it every day. By remembering, all the fun we can. And, by sharing lots of fun times now with each other."