Because all I could see was the dress. I knew it so well. I helped her pick the material. It was her own design, and she sewed it herself. I remember how excited she was the first time she wore it. At a party. All I could see was Nancy’s red velvet. And Nancy in it. Dancing.

This quote comes from Part Two: Persons Unknown, as Susan Kidwell, one of Nancy’s best friends, removes herself from the funeral home after seeing Nancy’s body. Outside, Susan is overwhelmed after seeing the Clutters interred in their coffins with their heads swathed in cotton and finds herself on the verge of fainting. She regrets seeing Nancy and her family in that state, and there’s a sense that this is an image she will never forget. Nancy’s red velvet dress was once a symbol of Nancy’s life – her many skills, her ability to have fun, her connection to their circle of friends – and of a time, so recently, when she was vibrantly alive. Now, it is the last dress she will ever wear, the dress she will be buried in. Susan, struggling to hold both realities and remembering the simple acts of their life together, expresses a tremendous grief. In the moment, Susan is overcome by a loss so great that it’s difficult for her to name or inhabit it.