The Love of Charlotte
Ruby Felton Miller
Ruby Felton Miller
The family of Charlotte Ruby
Felton Miller, who jumped out a window, held a memorial service for her
Thursday January 21, 2016 at Riverside Memorial Chapel in Manhattan.
The service was incredibly moving
with beautiful performances by the LaGuardia High School Girls Chorus,
beginning with a prolonged version of Leadbelly's "Bring Me A Little
Water Sylvie," a rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" by Bank
Street Friends, a reading of Margaret Mead's short poem, "Remember Me,"
by Gerald Fierst, the service's excellent Civil Celebrant, and
extremely touching comments by family members and her best friend.
The service was held in the
chapel's huge and lovely triple-height chapel that was filled to
Only after the service was over
and I went downstairs to exit did I begin to realize how overflowing.
I ran into a cousin and he told me
that there were three levels of attendees and they numbered over a
Only when I looked Charlotte's
name up on the Internet two days later did I discover that not only
where there three levels inside but a great many people waited in the
frigid cold outside on the street.
Those attending were mostly of
Charlotte's generation. She was two weeks shy of her 16th
birthday when she threw herself out a window. Another cousin had
e-mailed me about her death and mentioned that she had been suffering
from depression for about two years.
It was not possible that she was
depressed if one based that on the many very lovely photographs of her
that were shown on a large monitor at the front of the chapel before
and during the service. Nor on the testimony of the many speakers
who bravely fought back their inconsolable anguish and spoke with the
greatest of love for Charlotte's spirit and zest.
I never met Charlotte nor her father, Barney, mother, Caitlyn, and
younger sister, Cora. I actually had waited with them and some of
Charlotte's grandparents in a small room before the service began but I
didn't know who they were other than Eliza Miller, her grandmother, who
is one of my first cousins. I naively thought it was a bit sad
that there were not more people.
We heard the girls' chorus
rehearsing and finally were ushered in to the first few rows in the
chapel and I then realized that the large chapel was pretty full and
that the chorus was very large, perhaps 50. I looked at the
photographic show on the monitor and was struck by how very lovely she
was and by how many pictures there were of her at all her young
ages. I guess I looked at them intently for about 20 minutes and
then the service began and the Civil Celebrant, Mr. Fierst, introduced
the chorus, which was led by Sara Mae Lagasca. I didn't know the
song they sang. It began with foot-thomping and chest slapping and
hand-clapping and then the heavenly harmonies whose words I didn't
catch. It was very, very beautiful and I would later in the
service hear that Charlotte had a beautiful voice and was thinking of
becoming an opera singer. She had, in many of the pictures, that
piquant and Da Vinci allure of Elizabeth Taylor of "National Velvet,"
and not just because Charlotte happened to love horses.
As I began to realize that two young men sitting in the front row on either side of my
cousin, Eliza, were her other sons as they hugged her, I began to choke
up. At numerous times during the service, it was difficult for me
to hold back tears and not be convulsed by emotions.
How could this sweet child jump out a window?
The service closed with the girls chorus singing a "Lullaby" and a
pretty girl on the aisle in the first row turned around to throw an arm
around another and that girl grabbed and held her hand as they
sang. Most the chorus in this song and the first sang with
When I went to work the next day, I wanted to tell some of my
co-workers how memorable and lovely the service was but had to stop
because tears welled up as they do now as I type this inadequate
remembrance of a very special moment in my life that has made me love
life even more. I recalled the memorial service I gave my mother
and, strangely, this moved me almost more. Life is very precious,
even for strangers. Its mysteries are wondrous because we care.
Carter B. Horsley