He was very abrupt; after our initial introductions he told me flat out that his 13 year old granddaughter had been killed in a car accident and he wanted to know if I would be "interested in handling her burial". I immediately offered my condolences and let him know that of course I would help him. "Fine" he said, "these are my phone numbers but, I'll call you" and then he hung up. I didn't know what to think. There was no emotion on his part, he was very business-like however by mid afternoon we had an appointment for 11 AM the following day to make arrangements. It wasn't until the appointment was set that he advised me that his granddaughter's father lived in another state and that his daughter would be the one making all of the decisions.
The following day I made funeral arrangements with 11 people from both sides of the family, including the father; some were crying, some appeared to be in a trance and others were nonchalant. Apparently, the little girl had been riding in the backseat of a small vehicle. With her was her brother (16), her boyfriend (15) and the car was being driven by a 21 year old boy. Of the four of them, she wasn't wearing a seat belt. From what I read in the newspaper, the car had been travelling at approximately 90 miles per hour when the driver lost control;she was ejected from the vehicle and struck her head on a piece of machinery that was parked at the side of the road. She was killed instantly. Not one of the other three had a scratch on them. To me this seemed as if it were caused by poor judgement on behalf of the driver yet both sides of her family were blaming each other. I would ask something of one family member and another family member would try their best to make a point completely opposing the response. I was beginning to realize that there were more than a few states separating this family. This went on for some time before I had to ask them, extremely politely, to put their differences aside until we could all get through the next few days. To my surprise they actually complied, publicly.
Because there was such a large, young, immediate family I expected the large crowd at both the visitation and the funeral service. What I didn't expect was that there would be well over 1 thousand in attendance. Of course when there's a traumatic death accompanied with an open casket you automatically have a certain group of curious people just wanting to get a look but I would say from what I heard, that the vast majority of people there were friends. This young girl, despite the rift in her family, touched the hearts of an immeasurable amount of people. There was no doubt she was loved by young and old alike and was going to be missed dearly.
It always saddens me when someone dies as the result of some preventable accident. I've seen too many young people die behind the wheel of a car. I don't know what it is that makes an intelligent child become not so bright behind the wheel of a "weapon". I did the same thing, I sped knowing that I was doing wrong yet I sped with no consideration for mine or others lives. What is it about the young that make them want to tempt fate? Are they brave or are they stupid? Please kids, don't drink and drive, don't speed. I know you think you're indestructible but isn't this little girl proof enough that you need to take care of yourselves?
Should the 21 year old be held responsible because he was the adult driving? Should her mother be held responsible for allowing her to be out so late at night? Should the father be held accountable because he moved to another state and didn't watch her close enough? All I know is that this little girl is dead and her broken family is now shattered, fingers are being pointed blaming the innocent, they say the equipment at the side of the road shouldn't have been there, the road was slick, they say accidents happen there all the time. There have to be a million excuses for this but bottom line is that if our kid's aren't taught that their lives are worth more than anything in this world how can we expect them to try to keep their most valuable possession safe?