wandering the desert

[Sorry to be doing things out of order, but this was just how it had to go. The hospital story will resume tomorrow for those of you waiting in suspense.]

Yesterday was the most awful day. We all piled into Julie's car, padded by huge pillows and fluffy blankets, and drove the two hours to Amarillo. We exited at a tiny town and pulled into a little funeral home. I wish I could say the funeral home was nice. I mean I suppose it was, compared to the few others that I've seen, but it's hard for me to find funeral homes a comfortable place to be.

My family entered a room with a long, glass covered table. The first thing I saw was Jada's bracelets sitting on the table. One of them was a Young Ambassadors bracelet I'd given her just weeks earlier. That started the tears. They sat us down and there was some talking, but not much listening on my part. I used the tissues to wipe my pool of tears off of the table and then followed my mom and Joey and Julie into the little room where Jada was so that we could dress her.

When I first saw her face, I turned around and ran out of the room. It was horrifying and awful. It took me a while to calm down, to convince myself that I wanted to be in there. A large part of me wanted to skip it all, to never walk into that room where that once-beautiful girl was lying lifeless on a gurney. But the more rational part told me that I would regret it, that I'd forever wish I'd been strong enough to take care of her one last time. So I went back in.

It wasn't any easier. She was still lifeless and expressionless. I sat on the couch and stared in horror, intermittently sobbing and being brought tissues by the two other women that had come from our church to assist us. I'm afraid I didn't do much to help dress her. I just sat on the couch and watched. I felt like I'd accepted her death already, but seeing her on the table wrenched my heart. She just looked so dead. My poor mother. She was so brave and strong. She lovingly touched Jada and admired her beautiful hair. I doubt that this hurt me more than it hurt her, but she held here composure so well. I finally got up the nerve to stand up and look at Jada. I wish I could say she was beautiful. Everyone else thought she was. But after fourteen years of seeing light and love radiating from her, this lifeless body was not a thing of beauty. It was not my Jada. It was merely a corpse trying to imitate her. I looked at the scar on her neck from where the seatbelt had done its damage and felt pure hatred for the first time. I was furious. Not at anything or anyone in particular. Just at the idea of death. I know I'll see Jada again. But seeing my beautiful, innocent angel be defeated by this ugly thing called death seemed unfair, unjust. I know that she didn't suffer. But her body certainly did.

Later my siblings came in. Every single one of them handled it better than I did. Not one of them stared in horror or turned to my mother in fear the way I had. We spent some time and shared memories and left her with things that matter the most to us. I watched Aria stroke Jada's hand and face and eventually she talked me into doing the same. I will always be following her and her courageousness. Jada's hand was cold and felt lilke clay. She still had her red nail polish on her fingers and chipped blue polish on her toes. I looked at her face and ran through all my memories of her different expressions--ones of joy, confusion, excitement, laughter, annoyance, hope. It was with overwhelming grief that I thought about how I'd never see those expressions on this face again.

Eventually it ended and it was time to go. I'm ashamed to say I was impolite to every one of the funeral home workers. I didn't offer a hello or goodbye or a thank-you-for-taking-care-of-my-sister. I just walked out to the car with my head down. I wish I could end this on a happy note, but I want to remember it exactly how it was--awful, sad, depressing. I pray that I die before my mother and my siblings, because it is something I never, ever want to have to do again.

[Title from A Year Without Rain by Selena Gomez]


  1. I hate funeral homes also and I admire the people who are strong enough to work there. My mom was buried in her temple clothes and I am so ever thankful to our church sisters who dressed her for us. You are a brave and strong daughter of God and will be with Jada again. So let's endure to the end. Take care, Anne

  2. It took bravery, beyond your own ability to acknowledge it to even be in the room. I have felt your hatred of this thing called "death" first hand. I wish you did not have to go through it. Stay close to your family and faith, look to each other for strength. Our experiences mold us in ways we simply cannot understand at the time they are happening.

  3. Bridian, You are a very compassionate loving human being. It is understandable how you had such a difficult time, yet you you pulled out your reserves of courage and you persevered. I can't imagine how you must have felt. Though it was hard for you, you went back in and said your goodbyes, you are to be highly commended for that You can now truly start the healing process. We will continue to pray for you. I love you and will see you next weekend. JOY

  4. my grandmother's body was once in that same funeral home and my aunt yelled at the workers, so consider yourself polite.
    much love Bridian. you are brave, strong and someone to be admired.

  5. Bridian,
    I'm glad you are doing better. I handled dressing my sister about as well as you did. My sisters had already seen my sister dead at the hospital but the first time I saw her was there lying on the table when we came to dress her. It's an image I will never forget. It took time for me to touch her. I kept thinking...this is not happening right now.

    It was the most traumatizing...and yet spiritual experience I have ever had. I don't know if I was ready to handle it but it did strengthen my testimony about the fact that are bodies are just that...bodies.

    I'm amazed at your strength. I always knew you were mature above your years but what you have had to go through is more than most people do in their whole life.

    You are doing it beautifully.

    Love, Christy Denney

  6. Bridian , Thank you for keeping up your blog for the people who live so far. There is a pain deep in my heart because we couldn't just run down there and hug your family. You guys helped make Florida a wonderful adventure for us. We were so thrilled to get your family Christmas picture and couldn't seem to take it down. It wont come down anytime soon, Because we get to continually glimpse at your beautiful, fun, crazy sister Jada's picture. We will miss her dearly. We were so excited that you guys were moving to Vegas and had talked about taking a trip next year to visit you all, its so much closer for us. But where ever you end up, you will bless the lives of the people you meet as you blessed ours. Thanks!! Keep Blogging!! The Carter's Love you!!

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  8. Hi Bridian,

    I found out that you have been keeping a blog and I just spent several hours reading it. It's like a good book that I can't put down. It has made me laugh and it has made me cry. I'm so sorry for the tremendous suffering you are going through. I love this particular entry. I can empathize with you completely. I love your honesty. I admire your courage.

    Your smile will forever light up an entire room. You are wonderful and I miss you.


    Jenn Neville

  9. Bridian!! I love you so much!!! and you are completely amazing! Stay Strong!