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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (02/28/08)

TITLE: A Friend For Life
By April Bailey


The church appeared quite cheery filled with so many flowers and loved ones. If it weren’t for sporadic tears and Dawn’s casket at the altar, a stranger might have thought this a festive occasion.

No matter the circumstance, eighteen seems too young an age to die. But no accident or ailment ripped Dawn from family and friends. Her murder was broadcast on the local news; that’s how I found out. I also learned, after speaking with police, that I had been the last person to see her alive, the last person to talk with her before her ex-boyfriend came over and stabbed her in the stomach. With a series of blows he accomplished his fatal goal, killing both Dawn and his own unborn child.

I met Dawn in the Women’s Department of JCPenney a year before her murder. Younger than me by just a few years, she tended the charge application table at the entrance to the mall, while I worked on commission selling coats and dresses.

We spotted each other in the store on a very slow Tuesday evening. Bubbly and quick to giggle, Dawn walked over, introduced herself, and told me a joke that left us both reeling against the wall by the fitting rooms. A recent high school graduate, she loved to dance, had a serious case of the “boy crazies,” and knew her biological father was Cuban, which accounted for her soft hair and most glorious caramel complexion. Despite working together several days a week, we began holding marathon telephone conversations every night, and spent our weekends at the midnight movies watching “Purple Rain” … eleven times in all.

Looking back, Dawn’s pregnancy came as no surprise. Adopted as an infant by a dour elderly couple, she regularly felt the sting of parental interaction that bordered on cruel (and often crossed that line). A weight problem exacerbated her insecurity, sending her searching for “love” in the arms and bed of a sociopath. Yet she always managed to find the good in most situations, and wore joy as a light that radiated from within. Until the day that light was extinguished.

Dawn would have hated her casket—the too-polished mahogany and morbid white interior. She lived in hot pink and royal blues with sparkles. Colorful, fashionable, fun. The girl in the casket seemed a poor representative. The caramel long-gone from her cheeks, this sallow shell, dressed in death gear by her parents, barely resembled my friend. I suppose that’s how it goes with people who are literally “full of life.” The difference is that much more evident once life has departed.

The funeral service for Dawn ended, and I left the church wanting to punch somebody in the eye. I knew even then that my anger would subside, and my grieving spirit would heal—in time. I met my Savior soon afterward, and wondered if, on that terrible day, God turned Dawn’s suffering into rejoicing by welcoming two new souls into the kingdom. Such a loving person seemed made for heaven.

Today, twenty-one years after her death, I still think of Dawn sometimes and still miss her. But joy has returned to the memories of my friend, and instead of desiring retribution or revenge, I am merely thankful to have known her.

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This article has been read 636 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shirley McClay 03/07/08
A well-told heartrending story. So sad.
Lynda Lee Schab 03/08/08
Is this true? So sad...but written well. A wonderful tribute to a good friend. Thanks for sharing.
Patty Wysong03/08/08
I really like the last paragraph --well, besides the fact that 'you' found Jesus shortly after her death.
Patrick Whalen03/10/08
The story is heart-wrenching but all-too-familiar. The final paragraph really brought back the "sunshine."