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Hug your kids and remember Shaniah - Comments (0)
Melanie Brubaker Mazur - 4/1/2011
The death of a young child breaks our hearts. There’s so much promise and potential, and it’s all gone.
But I remember when Carly Martin and Ray Millich died in 2006, and a friend of their mother wrote a beautiful poem about kids leaving this world too soon, but how they never have to face the trials we adults do: marital problems, financial difficulties, the deaths of their parents. They get to bypass all of that, we hope by being in a better place. It was lovely, and I’ll try to find it in our back issues.
That poem and memories of Shaniah Farmer ran through my head as I attended her memorial service Monday inside a nearly full gym at BHS. She was the big sister of a player on my son’s football team, so Deanna and I spent some time together hanging out at those interminable football practices. Shaniah was one of the sisters playing volleyball on the sidelines and running around with the little kids. She looked taller and more mature than her age. The first time I saw her, I would have sworn she was in high school.
A friend of mine who grew up with the Farmers asked what on earth we do during these times. I told her you hug your kids, be grateful it hasn’t happened to you, and do anything you can to help the family out. My kids are tired of me hugging them so much this week.
I could see Shaniah doing the same thing. “Stop it!” I’m sure she would say, rolling her eyes. She rolled her eyes a lot, to very good effect because they were so blue and looked lovely with her long hair.
Both of her parents spoke at the service. Ryan Farmer stood before the large crowd and said he was a very, very humble man that day because of all of the support he had received from all of us, as well as the people of Junction, Texas, whom he didn’t even know. After Shaniah’s death, Deanna was in the little hospital there with severe injuries, and I’m sure Ryan was driving like mad to get up there. The people of that small town took the kids out for a meal and bought them some clothes because all of their stuff was in the totaled SUV. How gracious and thoughtful of them.
Deanna has a cast and bruises, but she still looked lovely on Monday. She is a self-professed diva who always dresses beautifully and has flawless makeup. We football moms joke she just doesn’t look like the rest of us. She talked about how it was sometimes hard for her to raise Shaniah, an outspoken wild child with crazy long hair and grubby clothes who wanted to ride her horse more than wear dresses.
Several friends and cousins spoke at the service, along with Bishop Bruce Edmonds of the Bayfield Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He conducted a wonderful service. Everyone asked us to remember Shaniah and her good nature. Several of her peers speaking could barely reach the microphone. They joked about how much taller Shaniah was, but how she treated all of them with kindness and always gave them a smile.
Another speaker was family friend Larry Garner, a retired member of the Colorado State Patrol. He had spoken with Trooper Tanner Purvis, the Texas patrolmen I interviewed last week in what was one of the hardest stories I’ve ever had to write. Shaniah died by the side of Interstate 10 as he held her. He was crying and I was crying as we talked on the phone. Purvis wanted to attend the funeral, but said he couldn’t afford the trip. Garner and other family friends offered to fly him here, and I know he wanted to come, but work and family obligations kept him at home.
Purvis had told me he felt awful he couldn’t save Shaniah, but he sat there with her body until the hearse came, and he prayed for her.
I told her I knew that was a comfort to the Farmer family, that she didn’t die alone by the road as her mom was injured and Bobby Tutrow was getting her siblings out of the wreckage.
Garner asked all of us to wear our seatbelts.
Most of us cried during the service, but there were lots of laughs, too. I hope our children, and some of their parents will try to be nicer to each other. We don’t know when this transitory life will end. Do we want people’s last memories of us to be us calling names or making fun of them? I think not.
Believe me, I’m trying, too. It’s not easy with my snappish temper. But I will try. Shaniah is helping teach us that, even after she has left us.