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Parts of me died when Michelle Rheimer did in a flooded creek just down the North-side of a country road in Paoli, Ind., after her shift at Paoli Peaks that weekend night. It was bitter cold then, when she left all bundled up, but the snow melt during the day had the creek up, and the road with its black ice at midnight or soon thereafter ...

She invited me (very formally, very shyly) to her junior prom. It turned out to be the first of three, almost four, for me anyway, as ... a soph in high school. No, it wasn't about me, it was about her that night. Her dress was an off-pink (almost peach, if I can recall at this age, just beautiful as it graced her young face, shoulders, body ...). Her high cheekbones and wide eyes reminded me of native American Indian women, and that genuine smile, wow. No lies in her, no apparent worries, but her off-glances at times wanted me to help her from some past pain, some bad past memory. mermaid bridal dresses with long sleeves

I remember thinking (and still do): She is the purest thing, God, that You have ever made. Never touched, never kissed, like an ice-cycle in the Arctic at winter set. And I thanked Him, gazing into the night that night, after the music and the dance and the hoopla at school, as we headed to the after-prom.

I only kissed her with butterfly kisses during the movie at a friend's house, as awkward as it seemed. But the touches, to her hip, and her's to mine, were so natural, so eternal ...

The time passed quickly, and I was to take her home. As a young man -- still just a poor boy really -- that responsibility was big, an unspoken must (a lot of you men out there, my comrades, most certainly can relate).

Her daddy had a pig farm, and the smell was atrocious. And I must admit, to my dismay, standing there on her front porch, I recalled all those times at school I could smell that pig-stall smell in her clothes when I got near to her. Yet, we had one last, long kiss on that porch as the sun rose that wonderful, special morning. I hoped her heart fluttered, because mine did, and I knew even then that that was one special moment.

We saw each other in the hallways of Paoli those past several weeks, and then the following winter ... well, she died in that tragic car crash that people don't seem to talk about these days. It shook the town ... it's the type of scene that the first responders don't like to talk about during the down time.

And just last night it occurred to me that, well, a chunk of my heart and mind died when she died. It will never be replaced, as much as I try ...

Here's to Michelle.

A very, very special young lady that God decided to spare these awful years on Earth.

I can't wait to see her again, where we can smile, and dance, and maybe even kiss on occasion. That will be a great time indeed.

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