My life began at a funeral. Some people say life begins at 40 or 50 or that day in your life that you have realization that you will not live forever and some people you worry about could care less about you. It is about them and will always be about them.

I tell the story the funeral was of my pet turtle, Jake. How he was minding his business in the backyard of my grandfather’s house and my grandfather ran over him, breaking his shell.

The truth is it is the day Mindy Sams died pulling out on highway on a rainy day in front of a gravel truck. It was assumed she could not see because of the heavy rain. What was true was we were laughing, talking and not paying attention. I was not wearing a seat belt and when the vehicles collided, I shot like a rocket out of the right passenger window. I had rolled it down sticking my head out in the rain when the collision occurred.

I landed on a thick layer of grass. There was a small depression in the middle, a net in the middle of a marsh. It had rained a lot that winter.  It all happened so quickly. The truck driver was crying. He lifted me like a small child and carried me to the ambulance that was pulling up and sat with me until my parents came and his wife came. I had a few scratches and bruises. My mind was blank.

Later I remembered in bits and pieces. By the funeral, I knew the whole story. For the record, it was the rain. I told my dad about the shampoo, the silliness, the rinsing my hair in the rain. I can hear Mindy’s laughter. My dad went and got my mother. They sat there quietly as I tried to will myself to disappear and escape the guilt.

My grandfather came in. He sat. He talked about how they fought in World War II, some survived. A guy who had survived was killed in a car accident when he returned. Life was fickle. Dad looked at me and said let’s not wallow in guilt.

“Should I at least tell her parents?”

“Hell no.”

“Why should you, would it bring her back to life?”

“Her parents have too big a burden as it is. They would only hate you. Besides, the person who needs to forgive you is yourself.”

At the funeral, I told Mindy goodbye. I couldn't change what happened. I vowed to make the best of my life as possible.

I left the marshes of Georgia never to return that September. I later built a subdivision in that marsh of long ago. People say who would want to live in a marsh. I tell you, it has a beauty of its own. It is the birds nestling down for slumber late in the evening never whispering a word to my granddaughter somersaulting along the boardwalk but fuss grandly as I follow. 


  1. Oh, how filled with sadness! What a dilemma.

  2. I agree with the dad. Sometimes the truth is better left unsaid.

    I like how you segued from the death of the turtle to the car crash.

  3. what a burden to carry for a lifetime - very touching how she went back there to try to find her peace

  4. Terribly sad.

  5. Sad. Nice ending and I love that photo at the end. I tend to be a picture person I think. I am always distracted by the photos!This one is really lovely.

  6. Death is senseless. I wish this week's prompt was "My life began at the best party."

    1. It would have created a story better suited for me too. My mind stretches easily but this one just went morbid for me.


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