“If I die young, bury me in satin,
Lay me down in a bed of roses,
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song.”
Last year, I talked about Sarah dying, and attending her funeral. Today she would have turned 19. At around the time she died, “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry was released in South Africa. It’s a fitting In Memoriam, and every time I hear it I think of her.
“The sharp knife of a short life.”
This lyric, repeated several times in the song, says it all. Sarah’s death at 18 cut everyone who knew her.
“Lord make me a rainbow, I’ll shine down on my mother.
She’ll know I’m safe with you when she stands under my colours.
Life aint always what you think it oughta be.
Aint even grey, but she buries her baby.”
I met Sarah’s mother recently. Losing her youngest child was a terrible blow to her. It’s especially hard at this time.
“And I’ll be wearing white when I come into your kingdom.
I’m as green as the ring on my little cold finger.
I never knew the loving of a man,
But it sure felt nice when he was holding my hand.
There’s a boy here in town who says he’ll love me forever.
Who would have thought that forever could be severed by
The sharp knife of a short life?
Well, I’ve had just enough time.”
This is particularly poignant as Sarah’s family was preparing for her Matric Farewell dance.
“So put on your best boys and I’ll wear my pearls.
What I never did is done.
A penny for my thoughts? Oh no, I’ll sell them for a dollar.
They’re worth so much more after I’m a goner.
And maybe then you’ll hear the words I’ve been singing.
Funny when you’re dead how people start listening.”