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The funeral that saved my life This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

It was a drizzly day in November two years ago when I went to her funeral. Her name was Vivian, and she was an old lady that everybody loved. She was involved in many charities and helped anyone that she could.
She had a cat named Hudson that I would watch sometimes when she went to Florida to visit her grandchildren. I met her when I was 12, and for the two years that I knew her, I would watch her cat and we would spend afternoons talking together. She was that good person I hoped I would be like when I was older.
In the summer of 2008, her cat died of cancer. She loved Hudson very much, and was heartbroken when he died. When she herself got cancer, I had no idea. I was a freshman in high school, and my schedule was so busy I didn’t have the time to call her. So when I came home from school one day and my mother told me that she had passed away, I was shocked and devastated. She was such an alive person, always caring for other people before herself. She hadn’t even been that old, and it had never entered my mind that she would one day have to leave.
Her funeral was scheduled for a warm rainy day in November. I remember that it was a legal holiday, because there was no bus transportation to school and I had a carpool.
I sat in the funeral home that morning, watching her friend cry as she spoke about Vivian and all she had done and accomplished during her life. I didn’t cry. I felt detached from everyone sitting there, and it seemed only like a speech, not a funeral.
We followed the hearse on the way to the cemetery. As they lowered her coffin into the cold earth and her sons said kadaish*, I found myself beginning to cry as we all recited tehillim** together. My newly cut hair stuck to my cheeks as it blew into my tearstained face. It wasn’t just a speech to me now; it was a woman that I still saw as being alive and vibrant being buried by her husband and children. When it was my turn to shovel, I took the shovel and threw a load of dirt on her coffin. It hit the smooth wood with a dull thump that sounded hollow. It was hollow. Vivian wasn’t in there. She wasn’t a dead, lifeless body with no soul. She was still alive in my mind.
That funeral saved my life.
My carpool, that was supposed to drive me to school had I not gone to the funeral, was in a car crash with an SUV that day. Both cars were totaled. It happened at the intersection of Grandview and Wilder road. There were no traffic lights, and the carpool drove forward at the same time as the SUV that was coming from the opposite direction. The car crashed into a tree and knocked it flat. My friends that were in that car suffered extreme whiplash and irritation to their necks from the shoulder belts. They were hurt. Since I am the smallest one in the carpool, I would have been the only girl without a shoulder belt. I would have slipped from my seat belt and thrown forward through the windshield into a tree. I would have probably landed in the hospital or been killed.
When I visited the site crash a few days later, I saw how bad it had really been. A fir tree had been knocked flat by the car, and a metal gate was bent all the way to the side. The road had deep ruts carved into the soft mud on the side with two sets of skid marks.
I learned a lot, maybe even a life lesson that day: By going to that funeral and giving tribute to an old woman’s soul, I was saved.
The next week, our school held a Suedas Ho’daya*** to thank G-d that the girls involved in the crash were safe. The girls recited Birchas Ha’gomel**** and each one of them spoke. They spoke about the bruises that still lingered after a week, about their sore necks and physical therapy that one had to get for the whiplash. I sat at that meal and thought to myself about how it could have been me. I could have been in that crash and been injured, or more likely, killed. I felt that I should be getting up in front of my whole school and publicizing the amazing miracle that had happened to me. But I didn’t. I sat there silently and thanked God at that meal like I had never thanked him before.


* A prayer said for the merit of the soul of a deceased person
**book of psalms
*** a meal of thanks
**** a blessing that Jews say after being saved from a serious danger



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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

McSparks said...
Dec. 8, 2010 at 9:47 pm
hey laylay!its meDA. omg ur an amazing writer n i love it!!! cant wait 4 u 2 post more!!! luv ya !!!
 
Leah94 replied...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 5:31 pm
why'd you change your screen name? and duuuuude call me!!!
 
eboni0721 said...
Dec. 8, 2010 at 11:12 am
Well to me this story was really good and I would love to read more of them. I could really see inside my head how everything that you wrote was layed out like how u said u would slip out of your seatbelt and had been crushed by a car I could really see those thing so I really appreciated your story 
 
Undefined said...
Dec. 8, 2010 at 9:50 am
This story is really good! I can imagine what everything look like in this story. The way the girl cry; the cat dying of cancer. It's just really good.
 
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