The Color Black

You always said, you never liked the color black. And even though you explained in the best way possible, I never quite understood why.

You were the kid of friend who was always there. Through thick and thin, you were at my side. I tried to be always at your side as well, but wasn't always able to. You understood though. You were the only one who understood. The only one who didn't turn away, didn't try to hide. I think that's why I loved you so much.

You were the kind of girl who was always happy, no matter what unexpected twists life threw at you. You always had a smile as bright as the sun on your face, but people didn't take the time to look.

They turned away from us. Titled us 'outsiders' just because we were different. We weren't really different. We just had a painful history with our families. The day your brother died was the day you told me about the color black, the first day I saw deeper inside of you.

You had just heard the news after school, and instead of sitting with your family, you called me over and dragged me to the brook. We walked in silence for a bit, the gurgle of the water calming you down. When you spoke, your voice was shaky with pain, although you face showed little.

You were always a very religious girl. You said your prayers every night and went to church every Sunday. However, I never knew why you were, when no one else in your family was. Now, I don't know if I ever will.

When you finally spoke, and said you wouldn't be wearing black to his funeral, I was shocked. I knew you loved your brother more than me, and was surprised with what you said. But when you explained it, I understood in a way.

You reminded me that you never liked black. I knew that, but was still confused. I was also getting impatient, as you were showing no sign of sorrow. You told me that you believed in the Kingdom of Heaven, and that Jake was there right now. When I asked what that had to do with black, you turned to me, your eyes large with sorrow.

"Because when you die, your soul lives on forever in Heaven. However, people wear black as though the deceased are gone forever, but they are not." Was all you said. I didn't understand. I never understood you when you talked about God. Unlike you, I wasn't very religious. I never believed in God, as so many of my loved ones had died. This was the only thing we disagreed on, and I wasn't about to let that get in the way. My anger rose, and you saw that. Instead of saying anything, you gave me hug, and I felt your warm tears gently dripping onto my shoulder.

At his funeral, you wore blue. People stared at you, but you didn't care. When I asked you later why you chose blue, you said because blue was his favorite color, and the color of his eyes. I nodded as though I understood, but I wouldn't understand until years later. Two years, to be exact.

We were juniors now, and you still acted the way you always had. As my life became more complicated, your life became simpler. I never noticed it, but you seemed happier, if possible. On warm days you would drag me out to the hill behind the old house on Tuner Street. I would lie on the grass doing my English paper while you just looked up at the clouds. You chased the butterflies and frogs around like a four year old child, yet had the maturity and intelligence of an adult. You went swimming every Saturday, even in the winter. Whenever there was a rainbow after a storm, you would call me and make me look out side. If any one else ever took time to talk to you, they would never guess that you had suffered through so many tragedies in your short 16 years of your life. I tried to do everything you wanted, but my life became ever more complicated. My boyfriend Mark just didn't understand.

As we drifted father apart, I began to think more about what you had said all those years. Everything you said was beautifully thought out. You were an artist. You painted the world though your words. However, you never used black. There was never anything hurtful you said. As I sat in my room on that cold, February day, I knew I needed to talk to you. As I stepped into the hall, and heard those words slip out of my mother's mouth, I didn't believe it at first. I refused to believe it.

As I sat at the kitchen table the next morning, I tried not to look at the headline. I had met with your parents the day before. I didn't cry. I was too shocked to cry. Too shocked to do anything. You had always hated black, and it was black that killed you. Why did the world always happen like this?

A few weeks later, I stood with the doors of my closet open. I skimmed through the cluttered hangers, searching for that black dress I wore what seemed like centuries ago. As I pulled it out from between a purple sweater and old pair of pink jeans, I stopped. Looking at it, memories filled into my head. I remembered Jake's funeral, and what you said. As I looked at the dress, I found I finally understood what you meant. People always said wearing black showed a sign of respect. However, wearing this dress would give you no respect. Your life may have been dark, but you brightened it up in every way possible. How could any one wear black to show respect to a girl who never let darkness take her over, a feat not many of us can accomplish.

As I looked long and hard at the dress, I began to relive every moment of our lives. I tried to find a color that best suited me, but could not find just one. You lived them all. As I quickly decided on what I would wear, I realized the awful truth. My mother would never let me wear that. She would force me to wear black. As I looked into my closet sorrowfully, my eyes landed on that purple sweater and pink pants. An idea began bubbling in my head, and I smiled. I tossed that black dress onto the floor and started digging into my closet.

I arrived at the funeral late. I had told my mother I wanted to walk along our favorite paths first, and she drove away. I then changed into my new dress, and walked out. I walked slowly to the church, taking time to look at everything around me, just as you had done. When I reached the Church, I paused. I could see within the open doors people getting up to talk to you. I waited until most people were gone before stepping into the Church. The look on everyone's faces would remain in my mind forever. However, I payed no attention to them. My focus was on you. You looked so frail and small in that coffin. I knew you weren't. You were the strongest person I ever met.

As I walked slowly down the aisle, I could feel everyone's eyes piercing into my soul. I ignored them, however, a trait I learned from you. As I climbed the two steps on the alter, I could feel my eyes burning with tears. I let two slide down my cheeks before stepping next to you. You looked so peaceful, even in death. Fighting hard the tears, I took your cold hand in mind and placed to small objects in them. Then, I carefully closed your fist. The two chocolate kisses inside would remain forever in your hand. I kissed my fingertips and tapped your cheek.

"Good bye Susan. I'll miss you." Was all I said before walking away. I didn't look back. I couldn't look back. I wanted to say so much more, but would only say them in prayer that night. As I walked back down the aisle, I took more time to look at the people who had come. I knew a few people from your family, and a few people from town showed up. A few of the people who knew you were there as well. However, only your family was crying, and I could tell it didn't hurt them as much as it did me. I walked faster down the aisle, and my eyes stopped on Julie McPherson. She was running for class president. She hated you in every way, and I knew the only reason she was here was to make a good impression. To get herself elected.

She looked at my dress in dismay, and almost seemed to be laughing. I had taken all my old clothes out of my closet and sewed them together into a colorful dress. I knew this was something you would love. Sure, it wasn't the best dress ever made, but that didn't matter. Julie was wearing a slim, sleeveless black dress. Everyone said black shows respect, but looking at her, I knew she had no respect for you. Everything in the world, every meaning, then came raining down on me. I stormed out of the Church, Running away.

I finally understood why you never liked to color black.