The planed landed and every person stayed seated. It was a small plane, I had to walk outside to the stairs. Betsy & Chad met me in the hallway (yes, you could do that back then.) and I am pretty sure that she and I collapsed on the floor of that airport crying for a good while before Chad had the sense enough to drag us up and out to the car.
The next two days are slightly a blur. We had to make phone calls. Lots of them. This was before their were phones that memorized more than one number. We had her address book and we just started calling. Since this was several weeks after graduation, most everyone had had gone home. Phone calls were difficult and took time to “find” whoever we were calling. I remember clearly calling a few people and all of our calls sounded the same, “Hi, this is Melanie, Melanie & Jenny Melanie…yes, there was an accident. No she is not ok. The services are planned…”
Since her belongings were here but her family was in Miami, we had some really horrible jobs to take care of. We had to go to her house and go through her personal items to find the “right outfit” to send to her parents. Complete with underwear and a bra. That is right, I had to choose which underwear she was going to wear. How unbelievable is that? Not to mention just boxing up and helping her roommates get her things cleaned up. Every item had a memory and every minute was incomprehensible.
The one thing that several of us decided to do on a crazy whim was to get a a copy of her tattoo and all go get tattoos. Yes, that is right, in our deepest grief we decided to get a permanent memory tattooed right on our bodies. Her tattoo was a simple sun and it defined so much of who she was, bright, happy and life supporting. It is why you see the sun on the top of my blog and why it carries with me the important reminder that every day is precious because you never know when the sun may not shine.
Her parents generously booked a tour bus and hotel on which about 50 of us boarded to go down to Miami to be at her funeral. There were more tears on that bus than I can truly remember. I am surprised that it didn’t flood. People that you would never have expected boarded and we all made the 5 hour journey to her home.
I have very few memories of the next few days. I would write about them but they just are not clear enough to put into sentences. I will share in another post the reading I did for her funeral.