MISSY WEIMER - Photo Essay - Family Funeral

On April 20, 2001 my little cousin, Bridget Polk died in a corn field in rural Wisconsin with four of her good friends. It was an accident. Their car was pulverized by a semi truck and the kids were identified by their jewelry and i.d.s. She was the oldest daughter of my mother's youngest brother.

A few month before the accident, I took pictures of their family. The shots I took of her and her brother and sister were destroyed in processing, something that has never happened to me before or since. An artist friend of my aunt and uncle made this painting from one of the surviving pictures. It hangs in their house now.

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It seemed like the whole town came to her funeral. The town of 11,000 people had 4 funerals in as many days for the kids.

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Bridget's funeral was held at the church where where she was baptized, where my parents were married and where my grand parents were buried. Today, the church is gone and the site is a Walgreen's parking lot.

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Her father, my uncle George, told the kids to dress for "game day", something they did at the high school to promote their sports activities. Bridget had always gotten a big kick out of seeing the guys in their crazy outfits and herself loved to dress up and thrift shop.

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Her family made a sort of receiving line in the center aisle of the church and spoke with everyone who wanted to speak to them and everyone did. Her father was the first in line and he laughed as much as he cried as the people passed by and they all hugged and held hands.

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The next person in line was her sister, Molly. Barely a year behind her, she got a rash on her cheek from the fabric softener on people's clothes. They were hugging her, but she is allergic.

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Her mother, Peggy, who had put a letter, note or drawing by Bridget on every pew in the place. She had collected pictures and memories of Bridget and displayed them in the church, even showing off Bridget's prom dress which she had picked out and accessorized, but never got a chance to wear.

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Then there was Regan. Her little brother and the youngest of our cousins. He was just a kid then, it seems like not a year later he was a foot taller. He was close with her sister and seemed, understandably, overwhelmed.

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"We will be closed...to honor the lives of our friends"

After the ceremony we attended a party at a family friend's local cafe and bar. We munched on Bridget's favorite foods and mingled with her friends and our family.

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This picture is my cousin Dave, a writer. He is holding the last thing she wrote in creative writing class, a poem where the last line reads:

but I am coming home now

my life is for Me

it Feels wonderful

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