My Sister's Hair
Veronica Denise Riffey
Oct 21, 1972 - Oct 30, 1995
On October 30, 1995, my beautiful sister Veronica, drove 50 miles to a quiet, peaceful place in the country and took her own life among the stillness of nature. It was 12:35 pm, 9 days after her 23rd birthday.
Her boyfriend, Jim called me at about 4:00 pm to let me know that she was dead. I remember every word of that phone call. At first I thought that he was playing some sick joke on me by the non-chalant way that he that he spoke but after a while I realized that it was true.
It was left up to me to contact the rest of my family and that was the hardest thing I have ever done. It is absolutely impossible to find the words to tell your mother that her youngest child was in so much pain that it was easier to to place a gun in her mouth and pull the trigger than to go on living. Somehow I did it. I felt numb, lost, hurt, mad and a myriad of other feelings but I did it. I also had to find a way to tell my daughter, who was 5 at the time, that the Aunt who loved her as much as she could have loved any child of her own was gone forever. I did that, too. My two sons were too young, 5 months and 2 years old, to understand anything about death and I was hurt that they would never know first-hand what a loving, caring person she was. I was mad that she robbed them of so much.
I was out of the state when she died so as soon as I could get a flight home I went. I don't remember much of the trip home with my children but I do remember just wanting to be there with my mom, grandma, brother, sisters, niece, aunt, uncle, cousins and friends.
Together we did all the things that Veronica wanted done and some of the things that we felt we had to do in order to cope. We didn't eat or sleep for days. Veronica requested in her suicide note that she be cremated and we arranged for that. I remember it took days for the investigation to be completed so that we could have her back. When her body was released she was held a while longer so that organs and tissue could be harvested. They couldn't take much since she was already gone when she was found but we felt better knowing that something good could come out of this. I had one request of my own, I wanted a lock of her hair before they cremated her. The mortician tried to discourage me from this but I wanted to be able to have something of her that that I could hold so he finally gave in, although he said that it would be very bloody due to the wound in her head. When we picked up the hair he had cut off it was bloody but I took it to her house and washed it with her shampoo while my mom and sisters stood with me. I know that this might sound morbid to some but I felt as I was holding her bloody hair in my hand that a part of her was entering me and I was filled with such love and light that it was actually a beautiful experience. I have since wondered why they didn't wash her hair at the funeral home before it was cut but I am glad they didn't because then I would not have had this one last wonderful bonding experience with my little sister. I can still take out her hair and be filled with her love and light today because I did this one last thing for my sister and myself.