English, Foreign Languages and English as a Second Language

Student Showcase

The Light Found Within the Dark

Shannon Conroy

The wind is blowing my hair around as I walk to the place I have not been in quite some time. It has beautiful autumn surroundings, but how can one be happy here? I am in a cemetery, looking down at my brother's headstone. I stare down, sigh, and close my eyes.

I remember my mother telling me to hurry up as I fumbled with the zipper to my navy blue sailor dress. I can hear my dad running around in the next room. He mumbled to my mother, and she replied, "I want them to be there."

I finally got the zipper up and put on my shoes. My mom, with her mom radar, knew when I was done and came in to do my hair. I got out my favorite pom-pom pigtail holders, and my mom started to pull my hair up into the pigtails that I always wore with that dress. As she tied the second pigtail into place, I turned to her and asked, "Mommy, can we go to McDonald's after the fue-ner-al?"

"Well, sweetie, we're all coming back here for a party, but if you and your sister are good, we'll stop on the way home."

"Sue, Kelly's ready," my dad yelled. "Are you ready to go?"

Yeah, Larry, I'll be right down," my mom replied.

The four of us got into the old, green Subaru and headed off to the church. The ride was quiet; the only sound was Ricky Nelson on the radio. I hated the quiet, so I started to sing along with the music. My sister had also noticed the peculiar silence in the car and started to talk about the new shoes that grandma had just given her for her birthday.

Three songs later, we arrived at the church. Everyone was wearing black, which I couldn't understand. I thought the family had all planned it, and no one had told me or my sister. I felt stupid because I had on a navy colored dress, and my sister had on a dark green one.

"Mommy, I want to go home and change," I blurted out.

"Why, Shannon? You love that dress," my mother answered.

"I still like the dress, but no one told me and Kelly that everyone was going to wear black. We're not wearing black; Timmy's going to be mad!" I cried.

"Timmy won't mind, sweetie. He loved that dress, and he'll be happy that you're wearing it," my mom said and smiled.

I figured that if Timmy wouldn't mind, then it'd be okay. After all, today was his day. It was his

fue-ner-al, and he was going to heaven. I took my mom's hand and walked into the church.

The church was dark, as usual, and my family was all there. The stained glass windows were collecting light and making rainbows. The stained glass windows were my favorite part of church because they were so big and made rainbows. I kept looking at the windows and started walking with my mom when I knocked into something.

"Oh, hi Amy," I said.

"Hi Shannon; how are you?" she replied.

"I'm good! I got a new cat three weeks ago," I said, but her look made me think that I had answered wrong.

"Well, that's good. What's its name?" she inquired.

"Spider. He's big, fat, black, and furry," I answered proudly.

"Cool. Well, I'm going to go and talk to your dad. See you later," she said and walked off to mingle.

Just then, my mom said that we had to sit down because the service was going to begin. I made my way to a pew near the front and sat down next to my sister. I noticed that Timmy was in the box up at the front.

"Kelly, is Timmy going to sleep during his fue-ner-al? I asked.

"That's how you get to heaven, Shannon! Don't you know anything?" she snapped back.

The priest started to talk, and Kelly's last words rang in my head. I wondered why Timmy wanted to go to heaven anyway. Didn't he like it here with us? And why was mom letting him go anyway? He wasn't evenallowed to cross the street yet. This I would have to ask her.

The service was so boring. After the priest was done talking, everyone else had to say something too. Well, all the grown-ups said something. Everyone was sad, and people were crying. When everyone was done talking, they made each go up to talk to him.

When it was my turn to go up, my mom led me up to him and then took a step back. I looked down at him and wondered why he wasn't snoring. I leaned down and kissed his cheek. Then I said, "I think you should wait until the new baby arrives. Don't you want to meet her?" He sat there, still and silent, and I figured that he didn't answer me because he was concentrating on getting to heaven. I turned around and walked over to my mom, and the next person went up.

I was the last one in my family to have to go up, so we left the church. We got back into the car and headed to the cemetery. I saw my Care Bear on the floor, so I picked him up and tried to fall asleep. As I was lying there, my parents were talking about Timmy.

"Larry, what are we going to do with Tim's toys and clothes?"

I don't know, Sue, maybe we can let his cousins split them up, and the leftovers can be given to charity. But first we should see if the girls want any of them. What about his room? Have you thought about what you want to do with that?"

"I think we should turn it into the baby's room," my mom said as she looked at her belly.

I looked out the window and watched the trees pass by, all of the colors mixing together like my last finger painting. It was windy out, and I thought that I should have put on my other stockings because they were warmer. The sky was the normal fall color, and it was cloudy out. I thought it might rain, so I asked my mother if we should bring an umbrella with us.

She turned around and said, "I don't think we'll need one, but if you want to bring it, you can."

I looked back outside and noticed that our family had made a line of cars going down the road. I thoughtthat it was kind of funny because everyone had their lights on. I felt like I was in a parade. I started to wave at the people in the cars on the other side of the road. Kelly hit me and said that I shouldn't be doing that. I gave her a dirty look but obeyed and stopped waving.

The parade pulled into Saint Agnes's Cemetery and started down the home stretch of Timmy's trip to heaven. We went around so many curves that I felt like I was on a roller coaster. Every time the car would slow down, I thought we were there, but we met yet another turn. At this point, the only thing I wanted to do was get out of the car. When the car finally did stop, I opened the door of the car and jumped out. Only when I was positive that the car wasn't going to start again did I go back over and get the umbrella and my Care Bear.

With my hands full of junk, I went over to where a giant hole had been dug, and flowers had been placed all around. Three of my uncles and three of my cousins carried Timmy's wooden bed over and placed it on a metal rack. This time the box was closed, though, with flowers all over the top of it. There must have been fifteen different kinds of flowers on top, and there were many different colors.

The priest had started to talk again after the six who had carried Timmy had stepped back into the crowd. At this point, I noticed that more and more people started to cry. I looked around and saw that most everyone was looking at my mom. She wasn't crying; in fact, she wasn't doing much of anything. She just stood there and kept her face straight, looking at the box.

"I'm right," I thought. "She didn't like the idea of him going to heaven. He's going to be grounded when he gets back."

My eyes kept wandering towards the flowers on top of Timmy's box. One in particular caught my eye. It was a yellow tiger lily. Timmy had once told me they were rare, and we would spend hours looking for them. I wanted that flower more than anything in the world.

I was in luck. When the priest finished talking, my mom told us that each child could go up and take a flower. One by one, we went up and took a flower. Whenit was my turn, however, the yellow tiger lily was gone. I had to settle for an orange one, but I wanted the yellow one. That one was special. I started to get stiff-lipped, but I refused to cry. I didn't want anyone to know that I wanted that flower; I missed the flower.

A noise broke my attention from the flower. I looked in the direction of my brother's box. They had started to lower the box into the hole! I then looked up at my mother for some kind of answer.

"Mom, are you going to let them do that?" I shouted.

"Sweetie, they have to put him in there. That's where he's going to be from now on. He has to be put in there, so he can get to heaven," mom whispered to me.

I thought it was really sad that Timmy had to be put in the ground to get to heaven. Then I thought that he was going to be very bored and lonely while he was waiting, so I decided to help him out the only way I could. I walked to the edge of the hole and said, "Here, Timmy; take this to heaven with you! That way you won't be so lonely!"

It was only after that was said did my mother break down and cry. She dropped to her knees and hugged me. She said, "You're such a good sister to your brother. Come on, let's go to McDonald's."

I open my eyes, and his headstone is still there. I can feel the tear running down my face. The wind blows it dry just in time for another one to fall. I finally know what my mom was feeling that day but didn't realize it then. To my mom, my brother was the yellow tiger lily. Nothing else would do; she wanted that one special flower and was upset when she couldn't have it. And like me, she kept it inside, so no one else would know.

It is quite cold out by now, and I am afraid it might rain by the way the clouds look. So with an umbrella in one hand and the same present for the last 13 years in the other, I bend down and place a Care Bear next to his headstone.

I whisper, "I hope you're taking care of all these...I love you." And then I wipe the river away from my eyes and walk away.

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