The rain soaked streets gleamed a clean white sparkle from the street lambs as we sped by. I remember mother occassionally looking at me, her eyes wet with tears, she continually told me that everything was all right. I was afraid. I didn't know why she plucked me from my bed. I didn't know why my clothes were hastily thrown into my travel bag. I didn't understand why she now cried or why dad had stayed behind. Why did they argue so much? We sped on through the night until we reached the intersection. We couldn't stop at the red light Instead we skidded into the intersection the car turning sideways exposing the driver's side towards the approaching truck. I think mom died instantly.
As the fireman cut us from the crumbled Ford, I remember looking at Mom's face. Her eyes stared blankly at me, blood dripped from her mouth. Even after all these years, I can't forget that image. Later, at the hospital Dad arrived. He hugged me and said everything would be all right. I left the hospital the next morning. Several days later he helped me into my Sunday dress and tried to help me with my blue hair ribbon. Mom always tied it into a bow around my ponytail. I looked in the mirror. He hadn't done a very good job but I left it in anyway. He was very sad. He had said we were going to say goodbye to Mom. Even at five I knew what a funeral was and I knew we wouldn't see mom again.
Many of our relatives were at the Funeral. I saw Uncles and Aunts that I had never even meet. They all hugged me and told Dad how sorry they were. My grandmother engulfed me with her hug. Her silver hair fell into my eyes, and perfume was so thick I could hardly breath. She asked if I wanted to live with her and gramps for a time. Dad said he hadn't discussed that with me yet. The pastor stood behind a small podium in front of the the tasteful mahogany casket. I thought it strange that he would speak first about mom; he knew her least of all. She hadn't gone to church for many years. He looked out at the large crowd of friends and relatives and began to speak.
Saying goodbye is never an easy thing, but we can take consolation in having known Susanne and believing that she is now with God. She was a kind hearted outgoing soul. She touched all our lives with her Christian values, concern and compassion. The story of her love for life, humanity and animals is told by her chosen profession, charity work, and kindhearted approach to living. I understand there are others who have words to share with us today.
My mom's brother Mike stood. As a carpenter he wasn't accustomed to wearing a suit but he looked great in it. His voice was choked with sorrow as he began.
Susy, despite her diminutive stature, was my big sister. She was always there for us with words of wisdom and consolation. I remember her love for animals. She cared for them as she would a child.
Her big sister Carol, who perhaps understood her better than anyone, followed.
Suzy was a butterfly, fluttering about between uncertain futures but always touching the casual observer with her beauty and elegance.
I wanted to speak to everyone too. I wanted to tell them the mother that I knew. The mom who hugged me and played with me an took me everywhere, but I stayed quiet.
Then one by one our family and friends went up to the casket, some simply looked inside, while other's bent down to kiss her. I clung to Dad's arm. One of the last people to approach the casket was Mom's friend Mr. Bennett. Mom had taken me to see him at his house often. He had explained how his children had grown up and left him, just as his wife had. Mom and Mr. Bennett would close his parlor door while I played with his dog and the toys that had belonged to his children.
Mr. Bennett also bent down to kiss Mom. I looked at dad. His face was turning red, like when he yelled at Mom. He began to squeeze my hand very hard. He handed me to my Grandmother and walked to Mr. Bennett. Their eyes met. Dad's eyes showed anger and Mr. Bennett's showed tears.
"I'm so sorry!" Mr. Bennett said. The tears flowing more freely.
Dad eyes soften and he stammered out, "At least she won't be searching anymore."
Both men turned away from each other. Mr. Bennett walked out into the drizzle. Dad came back to sit beside me.