Well after a little over a year, it's finally here; the last chapter of Dance For My Father. I hate to see it end but unfortunately the time has come. I enjoyed writing it; it was fun but a bit challenging but all in all I am happy the way it turned out. Thanks to all my friends iloveromance (Andrea), Kristen (Kristen3), Leigh Ann, Maria (Jan2StaMuse), and Anika (crazysockmonkeys) for all your encouragement and feedback; it was greatly appreciated. I'm so glad all of you enjoyed the story so much and thanks for being my friends. I couldn't have done it without you (and Niles and Daphne, of course). If I forgot anyone, I'm sorry and I also give you much thanks! Please enjoy this last chapter and please tell me what you think! *hugs*

Chapter 40

Niles and David hear Daphne scream, David is the first one to reach her. It takes Niles a bit longer since he has to get in his wheelchair. Once David gets there and sees what is going on, he grabs his cell phone to call 911. He just can't believe that this is happening; he's never seen so much blood. Niles finally reaches Daphne as she falls to her knees and grabs her daughter as her body is racked with sobs. Niles sees his daughter lying in a pool of blood and is in a state of shock; he can't do anything but just stare.

Emily hears the commotion and comes out of her room to investigate. Once she gets there and sees her sister, her hand flies to her mouth as she lets out a scream and starts crying.

David finally makes it back and goes to Ashling's side; he has a first aid kit in his hand. The 911 dispatcher told him to stop the flow of blood by applying a tourniquet to the affected areas. He opens up the first aid kit and takes out the tourniquets as he tries to do what he was told to do but his mother won't let go of Ashling.

"Mum, you need to let go of Ashling, so I can wrap her arms up, to help stop the bleeding."

Daphne just keeps on holding Ashling and rocking her in her arms, as she continues to cry. Daphne isn't hearing a thing that David says. Emily manages to pull herself together and help David out by grabbing her mother and taking her into the living room.

David wraps Ashling's arms with the tourniquets; he just hopes it's enough until the paramedics arrive. Niles wheels himself to the living room to be with Daphne and Emily while David stays by Ashling's side until the paramedics arrive.

Once the paramedics arrive, Emily lets them in and shows them where Ashling is as they tend to her. Before long they have her on the ambulance and on the way to the hospital. Everyone rides in David's car to the hospital, even though it's late; they know they have to be there. They knew they wouldn't be able to sleep anyway worrying about Ashling all night.

Two hours later...

Everyone is at the hospital waiting for news on Ashling. David has informed the rest of the family about what is going on, they promise to get there as soon as they can.

The doctor finally arrives to speak to the family that is present. Daphne is just sitting there, as she continues to wipe her eyes with a tissue. She just can't stop the tears from coming. Niles is still in a state of shock, Emily is a bit upset herself but she still manages to hold it together. David is the strong one, who is keeping everyone calm and taking charge of things.

The doctor approaches them as he gets their attention.

"Dr. and Mrs. Crane?"

Niles and Daphne look up at the doctor as he sits across from them. They continue to look at him, waiting for him to give them news about their daughter.

"Well," he says as he looks at Niles and Daphne. "Ashling pulled through just fine. We were able to repair the damage done to her arms. She really did a number on herself. If you wouldn't have found her when you did, she may not be with us right now."

Daphne lets out a loud gasp as she falls against Niles. He puts his arm around her.

"That's the good news. The bad news is that we can't seem to get her to wake up. We put her under for the surgery but it has long worn off and yet she still won't wake up. She seems to have given up. It's almost like she doesn't want to wake up at all. It's like she feels she has nothing to live for."

Daphne is the one to react.

"No! Not me daughter; not me baby girl!" she screams as she stands up and walks away. She continues to cry.

"I can take you all to see her, and maybe you can give her a reason to wake up and fight. Show her that she has a lot to live for and how much she is loved." the doctor explains.

Niles is the one to say something this time.

"Thank you doctor for letting us know. We will be in to see her shortly."

"Very well then, she is in room 48. It's just down the hall to the left when you are ready."

Niles nods as the doctor excuses himself.

Niles wheels himself over to Daphne and takes her hand in his.

"Why don't we go and see our daughter, Daphne? The doctor said it would be the best thing for her right now, and that is what we want for her."

Daphne nods as she wipes her eyes and nose with a tissue. They let David and Emily know what is going on and then head to Ashling's room. David and Emily go to the cafeteria to get something to eat while they wait.

Once Niles and Daphne are in Ashling's room, they look at her and she doesn't look at all well. She is pale with dark circles under her eyes, her lips are dry and cracked, and she is hooked up to oxygen with a nasal cannula in her nostrils. Her arms are wrapped up with bandages from her wrists to her elbows. They just look at her for a few moments; not believing what they are seeing. It's hard to believe that this is their daughter. Just when they thought her days of cutting herself were over.

Daphne finally manages to approach the bed as she leans over and takes one of Ashling's hands in hers. Niles wheels himself closer to the other side of the bed as Daphne begins to speak.

"Ashling, its mummy. Your doctor told me that you have given up on life and that you don't want to wake up, but there is something I should tell you, sweetie. The day I found out I was pregnant with you; I was so scared; I didn't know what to do. I wasn't ready for another baby so soon after Emily, but when I had a dream about you and felt you kick for the first time, there was no doubt in me mind that I loved you and wanted you. I also remember how I felt the day you were born, it was one of the happiest days of me life. When the doctor pulled you from me body, I saw you crying, and then when he placed you in me arms and I saw your little face; me heart was filled up with so much love for you, I thought I would burst. "

Niles gets tears in his eyes listening to Daphne talk to their daughter; it makes him cry because he knows she means every word.

"I just wanted you to know that we all love you, sweetheart. We want you to wake up and we want you to know that you have so much to live for. We all need you here so please wake up for all of us who love you." Daphne adds as she looks at Ashling hoping for any sign that she's waking up.

Ashling doesn't react; she just continues to remain in a deep sleep. Daphne lets go of Ashling's hand as she begins to cry again. She walks away from the bed and over to Niles as she grabs his hand. They look at each other with tears in their eyes.

"Oh Niles, what if this is the end for our little girl?"

Niles squeezes Daphne's hand to reassure her.

"She'll come back to us Daphne; we can't give up on her. What you said to her had to of gotten through. She's a strong girl, like her mama." Niles says as he smiles at Daphne through his tears.

Daphne smiles back at Niles through her tears as they continue to hold hands. Suddenly, they hear a noise coming from Ashling's bed as they look over and see her waking up.

Ashling opens her eyes and looks around the room.

"Mummy, daddy?"

Niles and Daphne approach her bed.

"Yes, Ashling we are here." Daphne says as she grabs Ashling's hand with the tears brimming her eyes.

Ashling looks at both of her parents before speaking.

"Can we get a dog?"

Niles and Daphne both laugh as they wipe the tears from their eyes.

"Yes, I think that can be arranged." Niles replies with a smile.

Two months later...

Ashling has recovered well and has been seeing a therapist twice a week. He is a colleague of Niles' and was highly recommended. Ashling is well enough to attend the wedding of Donny and Roz. Daphne is the matron of honor while Emily and Ashling are the bridesmaids. Niles is the best man while David and a friend of Donny's from his law firm are the groomsmen. It was a beautiful but simple ceremony. Niles was happy to be a part of the wedding since he was out of the wheelchair and able to walk on his own. He still has to walk with the assistance of a cane; and to honor his father, Ronee gave Niles his father's old cane. Niles uses it with love and pride, and Daphne is happy because it helps her remember Martin and how she came to be a part of their lives.

Once the wedding is over, and Donny and Roz are on their way to their honeymoon; it gives Niles a chance to think about everything that has happened in the last several months, and it makes him smile because even though a lot of it was sad; he got through it because of Daphne. He has been able to get through anything having her by his side, the love she has given him, the life she has given him and the three beautiful children she has given him, is all proof that love really does conquer all. Love is really all you need, and he has that; tenfold. He doesn't know what he would ever do without her.

They all decide to stop by Martin's grave on their way home from the wedding. Once they all reach Martin's grave, the children place some flowers on the grave that they picked and then they just stand there and look. They just stare at the grave as they are each busy with their own thoughts. Niles remembers something his daughter Ashling told him once after he asked her why she loved dancing so much and she told him that dancing makes her happy. Dancing is just like life, you never know what to expect. Life's a challenge just to survive every day. As is dancing, there is something new and different to learn and experience. She was basically saying that life's a like a dance; you should be happy to be alive and if you are happy to be alive then that's all that matters. You take the good with the bad. You need to take the time to stop and smell the flowers, listen to the birds sing, tell your family and friends how much you love them and not to take a moment for granted. That's even more important now that his own father is gone.

Niles walks away from his father's grave, hand in hand with his wife; the leaves crunching under his feet. He looks up and sees his children ahead of him, talking and laughing; he remembers those exact words his daughter said and realizes they make sense. So next time instead of asking questions or wondering why, he will just enjoy the dance; the dance of life, the dance of love, the dance for his father.

THE END