The years rolled by but the pain never seemed to diminish.
Stella couldn't fight off the depression which had settled in her life.
Her devoted family had been supportive. Joyful. Until the abysmal day their daughter,Sue Ellen, went missing on the prairie. Sue Ellen had wandered away from her home while her mother had been busy working in the garden.
When Sue Ellen was born she'd become the apple of her mother's eye. She had golden curls. Her eyes brighter than the blue of the ocean. She had the look of an angel. Sue Ellen brought much joy to her family.
On the fateful day in June with the ghostly mist rolling over the prairie, Stella looked up from her work. She searched for Sue Ellen but she no longer played where she had been, when Stella began her work. Stella dropped her garden fork from her lifeless fingers.
“Sue Ellen. Sue Ellen.” Stella ran between all the flower beds trying to find her daughter.
Sue Ellen didn't answer her mother's call. She didn't arrive to see what her mother wanted.
Stella became frantic.
Her beautiful daughter wasn't anywhere in the garden area. None of the family were home to help her search for Sue Ellen.
She rushed in the house to go through every room. No sign had been found to tell her Sue Ellen had been inside. Stella knew she needed expert knowledge to find her daughter.
She rushed from the house with her long skirt held high so it didn't impede her run through the tall grass. Stella ran fast to reach the town two miles from her home. The first build she reached was the school. Families were there waiting to collect their children.
“I need help. My daughter is missing.” Stella struggled to puff the words from her mouth. She bent over to relieve the stitch in her side.
Within half an hour, family members and friends, set forth from the garden at Stella's home to search for Sue Ellen. People scoured for miles looking for her until the sun was finally blocked out by the mist. The search leader was on the verge of calling off the search for the day so no one else was lost in the darkness,, or became hurt.
“Doctor. Where's the doctor.” A tall, heavy set man came rushing out of the mist toward the group of searchers. In his brawny arms, he carried a frail, lifeless body, her clothes dripping wet, with tears streaming down his dirt covered cheeks.
The doctor rushed forward.
The man gently lay his burden on the ground. He prayed he'd find the doctor in time to save the precious little girl. He eagerly waited for the doctor to examine her. The doctor pulled the stethoscope from his ears. He looked up at the giant of a man waiting to be told good news. The bleak look in the doctor's eyes told the story.
Sue Ellen was dead.
The family, and all the searches, were devastated with the tragic news.
Stella screamed while she cuddled the lifeless body of her darling daughter to her chest.
Donald knelt beside his wife to try to console her while they grieved for their loss.
Sue Ellen was laid to rest under the old oak tree at the bottom of the flower garden.
Donald held his wife tightly to his side so she didn't escape to reach for their daughter when the coffin was lowered into the ground. Vicki, and Debbie, stood beside their parents to say their final farewell to their little sister.
Stella never recovered from the loss of Sue Ellen.
Her once beautiful flower garden died from lack of attention, and loving care. The beds were pulled out to let the ground lay fallow, to return to grass and weeds. The only plants Stella planted were tomato plant, which she kept in large planter on the kitchen patio. Nothing else was planted to block her view on the angel which rested at the head of Sue Ellen's grave.
Each year, the winter winds blew across the prairie, Stella entered a world of make-believe. She watched Sue Ellen play among the once beautiful flower beds to hide from her mother.
Even though another daughter, Libby, had been born into the family a year later, Stella didn't let herself love her new daughter the way she loved Sue Ellen. She was an interloper who took the place of Sue Ellen. Stella cared for her family but her heart was buried with Sue Ellen.
She blamed herself for the death of her daughter.
She should have kept a better watch over her.
“You can't see me, Mummy. I'm invisible,” echoed through Stella's thoughts. She came back from her memories to find Libby trying to hide behind the tomato bush.
“Get away from there your blaster nuisance.” Stella didn't like anyone near her tomato bush. Especially, no Libby. She had been conceived in a time of sorrow, not love. Libby would never replace Sue Ellen.
Debbie and Vicki, also felt their mother had locked up her heart the day Sue Ellen had died. She didn't talk too much to them. The love, and fun, which their mother had shared with all the family no longer existed.
Stella didn't even realise her fifteen year old daughter Vicki wasn't well. She had tried to explain to her mother but she didn't listen. She listened with one ear and forgot by the time the news reached her brain. Vicki had to find help else where.
Each year, Stella picked the first of the tomatoes from the plant. No one was allowed to eat them because she let the tomato shrivel, collected the seed, placed them in a bottle, to be use for the next year. The seeds were the descendants of the first plant Sue Ellen had helped her mother plant the day she passed from this earth.