I can't even begin to tell you how awfully sad Daniele's funeral was yesterday. The mournful cry of her mother was heartwrenching and unnatural. It's not a sound I ever care to hear again.
There were hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of people who came to the service. We entered the church from the side after the family. I stood with Seth near the choir loft to the right of the altar. The whole church echoed and strained with sobs. Seated at the choir loft close to us were Daniele's fellow cheerleaders from her middle school. It was particularly sad to see these sweet young girls holding one another as they cried.
I looked down at my sweet little nephew Seth. Through my tears I could see that he held up the little wooden star with Dani's name on it that we each got as we entered the church and he smiled the sweetest little smile, the one where his eyes disappear somewhere in his fat, shiny cheeks. I realized just then just how scary this scene must have been to him. People all around him, including my brother--his tall, strong father--people he had never seen cry, were shaking with sobs.
I took him quietly to a chair in a hallway just outside of the church. He sat in my lap. Once and a while would whisper a little question. Like "Why did Daniele die?" Or he would take out his little star and show it to me with that same smile that I adore. Or he would say "I'm sad".
It is so sad.
This morning I went with Seth and Maggie to their swimming lessons. And then we went to have breakfast with Santa. It was so reassuring to see Daniele's mother and father there, with their younger children and surrounded by friends and family. They are so sad, of course. But their faith is strong and they have so much support. It is unimaginable what has happened. What is even more unimaginable is to live through and after something as horrible as having your beautiful young daughter die so tragically. Somehow, with God's help, I'm sure, they will find a way.
I guess it would be too much to expect that youngsters will stop driving ATVs. Perhaps Daniele's tragedy will inspire more safety in their use, the wearing of a helmet, and a reminder that life is a gift.