The morning of her funeral, I stood in front of my mirror and stared at the grim reflection. I wondered if people actually wore black to these things or if that was just something you saw in the movies. Self-consciously I piled my blonde hair on my head, sticking pins in it with little grace to stop the loose strands from falling in my eyes. It felt so strange to be paying so much attention to my appearance; it didnít seem as if it should matter much anymore. With shaking hands I applied a thin layer of makeup, all the while wondering why you wore makeup to funerals. Knowing you were just going to cry it off anyway.
Silently I stepped back and took a final long look at myself. The effect was the desired one, simple and conservative; it was reserved yet sophisticated; portraying the respect due to the occasion. Normally such an achievement of co-ordination and sophistication would have brought a small sense of pride, but somehow this morning I couldnít summon up the enthusiasm. With a deep sigh I pushed a strand of golden hair that had somehow escaped its clasp behind my ear. Unable to stare at my reflection any longer, I adverted my gaze, my vision clouded with thoughts of Susie from the night before.
I had watched her with a deep feeling of emptiness. She stood before me asking what I had thought of the clothes she would wear the next day. I looked at the dark garments lain on her bed, more out of a need to turn my eyes from her face then to actually study them.
Before me lay a black dress, with only thin straps and a hem that reached just above your knees, I knew it was unsuitable for the autumn wind that blew outside.
She had brought it with her mother. Feminine and stylish it was not the sort of thing Susie would normally wear, but her mother had pulled it off the rack with a flourish. Swishing it around she had smiled at Susie, ďDonít you think itís pretty, you would look so beautiful in a dress like this.Ē Not wanting another fight, Susie had agreed to buy it. The tag still dangled at the side, untouched.
Susie stepped closer to my side, her emotionally detached face more painful than the tears I knew should be there, ďI know itís a bit formal and Iíll probably freeze, but do you think itís alright?Ē I looked down at her face, concern etched into her eyes, regret and grief made the decision an impossible one. She wasnít asking my opinion, she needed me to make it for her, she was unable to do so; I knew my decision would be the final one. And so I did the only thing I could do. Putting a hand on her shoulder I smiled; ďitís perfect.Ē I said, ďLetís find you a jacket.Ē
Debbie died on 21st of June 2007. After a life-time struggle with depression she committed suicide, leaving behind her, two teenage children, a husband and a whole community that mourned her death.
I donít know if Iíll ever completely understand what drove such a beautiful, respected woman like Debbie to take her own life, I donít think Iíll ever be able to put it into words, Iím not even going to try. Itís not how we remember her.
Debbie is a page of my story that I will never truly be able to write. Somehow to reduce her life to words seems an injustice to her memory, yet somehow not doing so seems the greater injustice.
So here it is plain and simple. When all the pain and confusion is stripped away here is what is left. Debbie was my best friends mum, she was a daughter, a teacher and friend, but most of all she was a child of god. Even in her darkest hour she was in his hands.
You see no matter what was said afterwards or what people believed about her death when all was said and done there was one simple truth; that in death and life she belonged to him.
ď For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of GodÖĒ Romans 9:38-39
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