The Memory This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I stopped my bike across the street from the large church. Looking up I saw the glowing sun high in the sky. Shielding my eyes, I watched a bird land on the cross high atop the church and quickly fly away. Of all the occasions that take place in a church, the most memorable are always the saddest. The picture of that day is so clear in my mind that it could have happened just yesterday. The weather that morning was so different from what it is today. On that particular day, massive clouds that darkened the sky loomed overhead. The air was heavy and pressed down on everyone's shoulders, and the light drizzle made everything seem dismal. My black and white dress and long black coat did little to keep the raw wind from making me shiver.

Together my friends and I drove up to the church and walked up the front stairs. Stopping before the entrance of the church, I looked up at the front of the building. It towered high above my head. That particular day, the walls of the church held grief and mourning. I dreaded going inside. Giving a little sigh, I stepped through the front door. Inside the sanctuary, the pews were filled with relatives, friends, teachers, and students. Quickly we found seats and watched silently as others filed in. Music from an organ drifted across the sanctuary. The sound was low and subtle, however the room was so quiet the music could be heard. The priest stepped out to the front of the sanctuary and raised his arms. Everyone stood and watched as the immediate family entered the church followed by the pall bearers carrying the casket. Because I was only a student, I did not know the family very well. But my sympathy went out to them as they made the painful walk down the aisle. Covering the brown, hard wood of the casket was a white cloth with a green cross. Staring at the pure white cloth was easier than staring at the casket would have been. The procession down the aisle went very slowly and seemed to last for hours. My eyes were riveted to them and I could not shift my focus from the cross.

The rest of the service was a blur to me. A poem by Emily Dickinson was read, but the title has left my memory. A eulogy was given but the words, also, did not stay with me. Later in the service a candle was lit and placed on the casket. A strange odor filled the air. Later I learned that it had been the incense. Looking down at my hands I saw the tissue I had taken out earlier in the service clenched tightly in my fist.

Suddenly the service was over. The teachers were leaving first, and everyone else was following aisle by aisle. When the time came, I rose quietly and joined those going from the church. Outside, the teachers had created a pathway along the sides of the front stairway. The path led to the hearse that led to the cemetery and eventually, to the end of a long journey. The black limousine was waiting to take the family to the cemetery and a car of flowers waited behind that. I paused for a moment to take in the scene. Despite the blowing wind, there was a stillness in the air as if everyone present was afraid to breathe. The rain had stopped but the morning had turned bitter cold. Turning away, I joined my friends walking to the car.

Even now the memory of that day is still vivid. To this day, the rains still falls lightly, the sky is still grey, the limousine still waits for the family, the teachers are still lined up and a wonderful man still lives in our hearts and in our minds. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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