Excerpt From Daddy’s Little Girl, Chapter 3

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My Sister, My Friend, Cheri

I wondered if God would heal Cheri if I prayed for her. I knew I was just a little girl. At church, you had to be an adult before people would listen to you. Was God like that too? Sure, I talked to God in the yard, but would He do something for me if I asked him? This was really important! I thought about it until I felt confused and scared for Cheri. I decided since God was an adult too, he probably wouldn’t do what I asked him to do. I didn’t pray for Cheri that day. I thought I was too young to ask such a thing. I didn’t know that day in the hospital would be the last time we would ever see her alive. Just a few days later, in the spring of 1958, Cheri passed away. She was only 9 years old. The guilt I carried at the age of 8, because I didn’t pray for my sister, plagued me for many, many years.

The evening Cheri passed away, Mama and Daddy came home from the hospital. Mama was sobbing. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. Seeing Mama crying and looking so sad was hard to take. Daddy was standing there behind her looking very sad. Mama knelt down and told us that Cheri had passed away. Ronnie and Perry started crying and calling out for Cheri. Big tears were streaming down their faces. I cried because everybody was very sad. I could feel the sadness and the pain in the room. Mama was really crying into her handkerchief. I had never seen her cry like that before. I could feel her pain in my stomach. I didn’t realize what ‘passed away’ really, really meant until our whole family, walked into Banners A.M.E. Church in East End for Cheri’s funeral service.

CHERRR-RI!!! I screamed in shock. She was lying in a beautiful ruffled pink open faced coffin right in front of the altar. I couldn’t believe it! The last time I saw her, she was saying goodbye to us from her hospital bed. No wonder they wouldn’t let us go see her any more, I thought. Cheri’s dead! She died!! CHERI!!!!! Someone grabbed me. I don’t know who. I was doubled over crying and screaming my sister’s name over and over. As they tried to calm me down, the ushers closed the casket and led us up to the front row so the service could begin. All I could think of during the service was, ‘Cheri’s lying in that pink coffin! They’re going to put her in the ground!’

About Hila Esters