by TYLER MERCER
Emily hated the idea of going to a funeral home. It was always so miserable and she preferred to do her grieving alone in the privacy of her home, she wasn’t much for crying around other people. Emily had never lost anyone so losing her friend so quickly was hard for her to cope with.
Emily didn’t remember dressing herself as she arrived at the funeral home. She was wearing a nice, white dress and her hair was falling neatly around her face. She was a beautiful young girl of only 17. A senior at her high school, Emily was set on attending college right after graduation. When she made her way into the room where her friend’s casket was she couldn’t help feeling warm about how many people had come to see her friend off.
She immediately got in line to say her goodbyes and to greet the family of the young girl who had passed away. She remembered the accident like it had just happened. The night had been so innocent to begin with.
It was a Friday night and Emily had wasted no time getting to her friend Gavin’s house for a small get-together. They partied the night away simply enjoying their youth and making memories they wouldn’t soon forget. She and her friends had enjoyed a few drinks and were having a great time.
They became steadily wilder as the night went on and before they even knew what was happening they had piled into Gavin’s car. All they knew was that they were going on an adventure. They were all just lively teenagers, living life as though they had years to go. The most sober of the group, Rob, took the wheel while everyone else piled inside. The ride wasn’t long, unfortunately.
The wreck was quick and the 17-year-old girl’s neck snapped swiftly. Rob was arrested at the scene for driving while under the influence, and would be in prison for quite a while. Emily could remember seeing all the police cars and ambulances at the scene, but that was about it. She couldn’t remember anything between then and now as she slowly made her way closer to the back of the funeral home where her friend was lying peacefully, surrounded by her family and friends.
Emily saw Gavin sitting with his parents and wished that she could just run over and embrace him. He was so upset about everything that had happened and only wished he could change the past. That simply wasn’t possible and it broke his heart. Emily wanted more than anything to tell him that no one blamed him and that everything would be okay, but she couldn’t bring herself to talk to him.
Emily saw many of her other friends gathered throughout the funeral home but didn’t stop to say anything to any of them. It just didn’t feel right to speak to them until she had said her own goodbyes. She felt a great sense of relief when she saw her own parents standing near the casket talking to some of the people who had come to say goodbye.
Emily had always been close to her parents as the oldest of their four children. She never hid anything from them and simply had too much respect for them to ever lie to them. It was the perfect parent-child relationship and Emily respected it greatly.
As she got closer and closer to the casket, she began to wonder why none of her friends were greeting her with condolences or just a hug. They all seemed so wrapped up in grief that they hadn’t even noticed she was there.
She had been in the wreck too and in a way resented that no one had asked if she was okay yet. Didn’t they care about her too?
She heard visitors whispering about the life the young girl was going to be missing out on: a family, a career, a bright and promising future that would never be because of a stupid mistake.
Emily hadn’t reached the end of the line before someone announced that the visiting time was over and the funeral would begin soon. She was a little frustrated, but knew that this was neither the time nor the place to make a scene about it.
Instead of sitting down immediately, she rushed up to the casket to say goodbye and to tell the family how sorry she was for their loss. As she approached the casket she admired how pretty her friend was. How peaceful she seemed lying there all dressed in white with her hair falling neatly around her face.
Emily turned her head to see her parents and her younger siblings approaching the casket as well. She tried to force a comforting look on her face, but couldn’t seem to do it. She watched each of their faces as they got closer and were soon standing over her crying, touching her hands, and kissing her face. Emily hated to leave her parents in such a state, but there wasn’t anything she could do now.
Emily’s seat was left empty at graduation that May and her closet friends carried pictures of her in their pockets through commencement. Gavin and a few other people who had known Emily set up a table with flowers next to the stage so that in some way, everyone there would know how missed she truly was.