A single rose left to remember
As a single tear falls from her eye
Another cold day in December
A year from the day she said goodbye

She stood over his grave, alone, in the cold DC air. It had only been a year, but there would never be enough time to end her pain and guilt. Looking down at the headstone, she read the beautifully carved words over and over, still not really able to believe it. "Anthony 'Tony' DiNozzo~ Beloved Husband, Father, and Friend." She was living a nightmare she could never wake up from.

She was not a woman who usually cried, but this was the exception. This was the man who loved and cherished her like no other, who was now lying dead beneath her feet. A tear glided down her cheek as she placed the rose at the base of the headstone. Before turning to leave, she softly whispered, "I love you, Tony."

Seems it's only been a moment
Since the angels took him from her arms
And she was left there holding on to their tomorrow…

It doesn't seem to her like it's been a year. It just couldn't be. It was only yesterday that he gave his life for her, and she carries that guilt everyday. He shouldn't have died for her.

A year earlier…

It was a cold, bitter December day in DC. Tony and Ziva had both had it with this case and were ready to finally put it to rest. Abby had finally gotten a match on the finger print from the body and they were going to bring in Corporal Jamison.

They found him at an unloading dock not far from his base in Quantico. "Corporal Jamison!" Gibbs called, beckoning the corporal to make himself known. There was silence. And then a few crates came crashing towards them. They saw the corporal run after toppling the crates. "Tony, Ziva, left," Gibbs commanded. "McGee, you're with me."

As Tony and Ziva advanced around yet another crate, they spotted Corporal Jamison. Guns drawn, they stepped out from behind the safety of the crate. "Drop your weapon!" Ziva called, seeing Corporal Jamison had a gun pointed straight at her.

"He had it coming," the Corporal sneered, "And I ain't going to prison."

And he shot.

"Ziva!" Tony cried as he saw Jamison take the shot. He jumped in front of her to shield the bullet from her body. It hit him square in the chest, and he collapsed on the ground.

Ziva immediately shot Corporal Jamison, and he too crumpled into a heap on the pavement. "Tony!" She rushed over to her now bleeding husband. "Oh Tony, why did you have to do that?" She put one arm around him while using the other to put pressure on his wound.

"Couldn't let it happen, Zi," he said with a weak smile.

"But….Oh my G-d!" His eyelids began to droop, the blood was coming faster, and his heart rate was dropping quickly. "Stay with me, Tony! Don't do this! Think of the kids! Of me!"

"I love you, Zi."

And with those final words, his eyes closed, and his heartbeat slowed to a stop.

"Tony!" It was a scream that could've woken the dead (no pun intended). When Gibbs and McGee reached her, her body was wracked in sobs as she held him. "No, Tony, No," she was whispering over and over.

This couldn't be happening. He was a father. Ziva needed him here. He was going to miss so much…

Their 23-year-old daughter Sarah was due to have her first baby in April. Tony had been so happy when he found out he was going to be a grandpa. Now he would never get to meet their granddaughter, Sarah having found out it was a girl a month ago. And their granddaughter would never get to meet Tony.

Their second oldest, Hailey, was getting married in June. She had been dating Ryan Weiss since the 10th grade. Tony had always liked him. He had always treated Tony's little girl right. He was actually thrilled when Ryan proposed. Even though Hailey was 20, she was still his little girl. He was ready to walk her down the aisle. And now he never would.

Alyssa was 17. She was halfway through her senior year of high school. She was graduating. She had already been accepted to Ohio State early decision. Ziva and Tony were both so proud, OSU being Tony's alma mater. She was going to graduate without her father in the crowd, to kiss her and congratulate her when she got her diploma.

Jake didn't only make the basketball team. He made Varsity his freshman year. Yet another child to be proud of. His first game was in a week. Where would Ziva be in a week? In a week, instead of cheering on Jake with Tony, Ziva's family would be at a funeral.

Liora was 10. She had finally gotten a solo in her dance class' performance of the nutcracker. She was so proud of herself. Tony's little girl loved dance. He would never get to see her perform again.

And….. TJ.

TJ, their youngest, was only 7. Only 7 short years with his father. TJ was going to have to go through his teenage years without Tony, unlike Jake. It killed Ziva. And Tony was signed up to coach his little league team in the spring. He was so excited to be coaching again, since he hadn't coached since Jake was TJ's age.

All the things he was going to miss now that he was gone…and she was going to have to finish raising their children alone. She was alone. It had been only last night that they were talking about their babies' futures curled up in each other's arms. They were supposed to grow old together…and now all she could see was a lifetime without him.

But as they laid him in the ground
Her heart would sing without a sound

It had been a week. A whole week. And she was still in a daze. It all seemed so surreal. Gibbs had taken care of everything for her, because she was almost incapable of functioning.

She had told Sarah and Hailey first, them being the oldest. Abby had to do it with her or she knew she would've completely broken down. She told Alyssa and Jake next, and it wasn't going to get any easier. Because now she had to tell the youngest two. Liora and TJ. Only 10 and 7. Way to young to lose their father. She already had 4 crying children huddled together in the living room, trying to comfort each other. And she, Liora, and TJ were about to be added to the mix. Liora screamed, and threw herself into her mother's arms, crying hysterically. TJ didn't understand. He just kept asking when daddy would stop playing dress-up and come home. So what if he was playing 'dead'? It broke Ziva's heart when she had to explain to him that daddy wouldn't ever be coming home. As realization hit, he too ran to Ziva, sobbing like his sister. Sarah, Hailey, Alyssa, and Jake joined them in the den. Abby silently slipped out, leaving the family to grieve together.

Now Ziva was standing at his casket, staring blankly at the rose she just placed atop it. Her arms now tightly held her two youngest, as they wept for the father they had barely gotten to have. Ziva closed her eyes, barely listening to the priest.

She looked at Sarah, 5 months pregnant. She remembered when they took Sarah home from the hospital 23 years earlier. Both of them were new parents, and they both were extremely scared and excited. Their baby girl. They laid Sarah down in her crib, already asleep. Tony wrapped his arms around her, watching their daughter. "She's beautiful, like you, Zi," he had whispered, kissing her cheek and reaching over to play with the dark brown curls on Sarah's head. "But she clearly sleeps like you, Tony." He smiled at her. "You and Sarah are my life now, Zi. I love you." He kissed her again. "I love you, too." It was one of her favorite memories, along with when he proposed, their wedding day, and the births of their other children. All of these memories consumed her.

When she was finally alone with her thoughts, she realized, now he can open up his eyes.

For the first time you can open your eyes
And see the world without your sorrow
Where no one knows the pain you left behind
And all the peace you could never find
Is waiting there to hold and keep you
Welcome to the first day of your life
Just open up your eyes

For the first time he could truly see. See the world through eyes other than his own. No one could truly understand the pain he left at home. His grieving widow, his children, his friends. Ziva was going to have to put on a brave face for her children, and go on every day like a woman who's heart wasn't ripped out with the death of the man she loved. But at least he could finally find peace. He was constantly troubled by his jobs. All the death and pain. He was finally free of it all. "I'll be waiting, Tony," she thought, "Until the time comes for me to be with you again." She signed. "I know you'll be waiting."

A single lifetime lays behind her
As she draws her final breath

She was lying in her room, surrounded by those who loved her. It had been 30 years since she last saw her husband, and she was ready to go to him. Her time was coming. Silently, she thought about the life she had led in the years since Tony's death. Indeed Sarah had her baby, and Hailey got married. Sarah had two daughters, Michelle and Erin, who now both had children of their own. They both had three children, Michelle and her husband Chris having Kaileigh, Marisa, and Anthony, and Erin and her husband James having Ruby, Kevin, and Maeve. Hailey and Ryan, had two boys, Jamie and Aiden. Jamie and Tara had three children, Alexander, Claire, and Victoria. Aiden and Julie had four- Lorelei, Robyn, Daniel, and Joshua. Alyssa was married now, with three children also, Nick, Corinne, and Kyra, who also had a daughter, Elizabeth. Jake had three children with his wife, Bracha, David, and Tikva and Shira, who were twins. Liora had her babies, Joseph and Ashley, and Ashley had Addison when she was 16. Even little TJ and his girlfriend, Becka, had two boys, Skylar and Logan. Ziva had been blessed with a big, beautiful family (though their family tended to have mostly girls). Ziva was not only a grandma now, but a great-grandma as well. She adored all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. And knew Tony would've too. He would've made a great Papa. She was a lucky woman. She had been to countless weddings and baby-namings, and Bnai Mitzvot in the last 30 years. Her life was filled with new joys. Tony would have been so proud. Her entire family gathered into her room ,to be with her in her final moments. There were many 'I love you, Mom's and 'I love you, Nana's. She closed her eyes and took a breath. It was her last. She was finally going to Tony.


Just beyond the door he'll find her
Taking her hand she softly says

She was walking into a white light. At the end of the light, there was a door. She opened the door, and her heart flooded with emotion. As much as she would miss her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, nothing could compare to the feelings that she felt just seeing her husband again. He looked exactly the same as he had when he died. She was young again, too, the same age as Tony. He reached his hand through the door, and she accepted it, him pulling her through the door to their eternal heaven together. Once she was safely on the other side, she ran into his arms. She cried, having his arms around her once again. Safely snuggled in his arms, she whispered, "I've missed you so much, Tony."

"I've missed you too, my ninja."

More tears came to her eyes. She missed being called his ninja. "You're a great-grandpa now," she told him.

"I know. You've been an amazing Nana to them."

"Wish you could've been there. You should've."

"I know. But I've been watching over you all, and we've made some amazing kids."

"We have," she agreed. "They're amazing. I love you."

"I love you too." He kissed her, something he's been waiting to do again for thirty years. When they broke apart, he leaned in and whispered in her ear, "For the first time you can open your eyes…"

For the first time you can open your eyes
And see the world without your sorrow
Where no one knows the pain you left behind
And all the peace you could never find
Is waiting there to hold and keep you
Welcome to the first day of your life
Just open up your eyes

She woke with a blood-curdling scream, in a cold sweat. Tony immediately woke beside her, Ziva not having had a nightmare since soon after she got back from Somalia. But never had he heard her scream like this before. Ever. He sat up. She was shaking, and now sobbing uncontrollably. He wrapped her up in his arms, softly whispering in her ear, "Shhhh Ziva, it's alright. I'm here." With that she began to cry even more, burying her head in his chest, holding on to him as if she didn't trust herself to tell truth from fantasy; As if letting go would make him disappear. "Ziva, tell me what happened."

The words started tumbling out in a blur. "I dreamt that you got shot one day protecting me and you died and I was left here alone with Alyssa, Jake, Liora, and TJ and you were missing Hailey getting married and Sarah's baby and I had to live alone for thirty years and then when I finally passed we were together again and…it was all like this song I heard on the radio today and it made me realize how much you mean to me and…" She was shaking now. He realized that losing him scared her infinitive times more than anything that happened in Somalia, especially having such young children. Still holding her, he gently pulled her back to be lying down. She snuggled into his chest; He could feel the wetness of her tears still warm on her face. "Don't worry, Zi. I'm here. It's all okay. I'm not gonna miss anything. I'll be really careful, all right? So you don't have to worry." He kissed the top of her head.

"I love you, Tony."

"Love you too, Zi."

Never had she been so happy to hear those words.

This idea has been in my head since August, on paper since September, and in progress until now. I'm so glad it's here and ready for you all! I really think it's quite incredible, and I'm so proud of it. I think it's very different than other Tiva stories using the same song. So I hope you all liked it. If you would like a better understanding of the DiNozzo family lineage, please click to chapter two. It explains the Family Tree as best as possible. Thanks!

Please review! And Happy Holidays!

1-11-11 A/N: Loving the hits. Got 80 more than Keeping Secrets. In way less time, too. However, 10 less reviews. And that equals...a whopping total of 0. So if you like, PLEASE REVIEW! I really wanna hear what your opinion is!~NCIS-Addict-4427