Sandy is home....
Sandy was laid to rest yesterday afternoon in a family plot in the Virginia
countryside, adjacent to the small church where she was baptized as a child.
Before the funeral, small white clouds decorated a light blue Virginia sky as
cars from New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida and beyond poured into the
old redbrick church's parking lot. Soon, the lot was full and church directors
were guiding cars behind the church, beside a playground or where ever there
was an empty patch of ground. Before long....there was no empty ground....only
a sea of people coming to say goodbye.
The service was brief...just a little over 30 minutes. During that time Sandy
was remembered as a lover of life and woman of tremendous energy. Guests filled
the church to capacity, overflow watched and listened to the service in several
adjacent rooms via closed circuit television.
Following the service, the family laid Sandy's beautiful yet simple wooden
coffin to rest in a private ceremony, while guests waited inside, remembering
Sandy with a display of photographs. The photo's ranged from her early
childhood, high school cheerleading and her wedding to Brad, up to recent
photos of her with her family and skydiving friends. The photos of Sandy's body
coming home from Chicago were also displayed...right next to a photo or her and
Hanna playing, and a small painting of Jesus.
Soon people began to trickle out of the church's front door. Most watched from
afar as little Hanna stood amid the sea of flowers adorning her mother's
gravesite....arranging them just so....picking out the pussy willows and giving
them to the other children to play with. I listened to her try to explain to a
younger child that, "My mom was killed and now she's buried under all these
flowers." She said it so matter-of-factly that I'm not sure if it has sunk in
yet. I asked Hanna if she would pick out a one of her mother's flowers to send
back to Chicago for the people who couldn't come....by the time you read this,
the pink and white carnation should be there.
By 4pm, we could hear thunder in the far off distance....and skies to the south
were growing dark. The small white clouds that greeted us when we went into the
church, had stretched skyward to the upper limits of the atmosphere. As friends
hugged their good-byes and vowed to stop meeting like this, a tired Cessna 182
jump plane came in low out of the blackening sky, and dipped a wing to Sandy's
JJ Johnson D-18218
West Point, VA
July 24, 1998