Today we are gathered to celebrate one of our friends.

“Penni took everything that went wrong and somehow she managed to keep pushing through it. No matter how many curve balls life threw at her she kept going.” The crowd erupts in laughter. A few people make crude comments before her.

“She would take everything bad and find a way to spin it into something positive. Her perception of how to handle like was not like that of most people our age. Being twenty is difficult enough. Throw on top of that everything Penni has been dealing with the last few years, there was a darkness which could’ve consumed her soul.”


Throughout the past two years after high school, Penni had fought suicide attempts as well as many deaths in her family. There were very dark days where she couldn’t be alone. Those days she was losing her battle. Other days, nothing mattered. She was able to stay upbeat and positive.

Her blonde hair used to fly free in the wind. During one of her swings, she ended up shaving her head. Now it was growing back. However, it was a slow process. One day at a time is a long healing trying to stay positive.


Another girl came up after me continued a part of the speech. “Some days, everyone was worried about her. Others, one or two people only. Most days I was worried about Penni. She would try to hide it, but when you know the signs yourself, you have to try harder.” She took a deep breather before continuing.

“Some days I wonder if there was anything I could do to help. Like my hands were tied behind my back. Most people that used to see Penni would think she was happy without any negative past. They couldn’t be more convoluted about the situation.”

The crowd let out a few snickers. “Between you and me, she was good at it for the longest time. When you’ve been in the situation that I’ve been in, things can get murky. I was noticing the darker eye makeup and the jackets when there was no need for it.”


As the day passed, everyone was telling stories about how close they were to Penni. Some of them made the comment that they weren’t even close to her, but they think that she was a reason they could take the day off. Many people play the victim for other people. Pain and suffering do not go hand in hand. Pain is necessary and will end up happening. However, what is optional is the suffering. Learning experiences come from pain to grow and learn.

Suffering will not help you grow. “I think that is what made Penni so resilient. She refused to let others have control or power over her. She wanted to be in control of her life. To the end of time, she was the one in the driver seat.”

“Penni never wanted to be seen as the victim in any circumstance.” The air smelled like rotting flesh and a mesquite fire pit. “She wanted us all to know that we could control the destiny and how it unfolds before us. Penni would talk about her suicide attempts to help others heal. Group therapy sessions made her go to very dark places, but she would tell people when others realized they weren’t alone it would help heal her too.”


The group in the church pews were murmuring among themselves. Chatter manages to stay at a dull roar. Occasionally a group of people would move through the rows and come and go. A group of teenagers never move. They are in the row behind Penni’s family. An adaptation of a family that Penni took as her own.

“Thank you all for coming. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends for my darling daughter to have. Even though her fight is over with her own depression, reach out to those around you. Any little thing that seems wrong, out of the ordinary, talk to them.”

She takes a deep breath. “My daughter was as strong as she could be for as long as possible. I wouldn’t trade even a day of the time that I spent with her. I wish I could do more, but even then, nothing is wrong and I wouldn’t change anything. I sit here, looking at her picture and wondering if I could’ve done anything different. However, there is nothing that I could’ve done. She was in control. If she was done, no attention needed.”

The older woman must’ve been in her late thirties. Her brunette hair was so different than that of her daughters. The body lying in the open casket was thin, blonde and fine. Her mother’s hair was thick and full. In the past, people had wondered if there was a different male involved because of the stark differences.


As the evening approaches the bodies in the church start emptying out. I stay behind with her father and mother. “My condolences for you. Penni was a great addition to the world and we lost a hero too soon.”

“Thank you. How close were you with my daughter?” Their eyes spun towards me.

“I was part of the support group that she helped at. It’s part of the reason why she was adamant about me speaking today. She knew the day was coming. Hindsight is 20/20 and I regret not seeing the signs the way I should’ve. For that, I apologize to you both.”

“Do not dare think that any of this is your fault. Like I said earlier, she was in control. If she was done fighting, no one could’ve stopped her from making her decision.”

“If you ever need a place to go, feel free to stop by our house. You will forever be welcomed there,” her father chimed in.

“The world is a cruel place. Obviously, you’ve already seen more than you should at your age. Please know that we are here if you ever need someone to reach out and talk to. You will never be alone. Not now that we know where you are coming from.”


You could tell in their voices that their daughter made an impact on their lives. They will never forget her and because of that, no one experiencing the heartache, they will always look towards helping the less fortunate.

October 08, 2019 19:11

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.