There is a ten year anniversary coming up in the next week.
Not a happy one.
It was ten years ago that a school friend of my eldest daughter lost her life in an accident. Veronica was fourteen at the time. She held on for awhile but finally succumbed to her injuries on October 20th.
Her mother asked me in a message the other day, “Does it seem longer than ten years or shorter? Or both?”
So hard to answer. Ten years seems like such a long time ago for me. A lot has happened since that time. I moved from Dallas to California. And then overseas to Malaysia. My eldest, who was Veronica’s friend, graduated from university. I lost a parent.
Life went on and just happened.
And yet I can remember the day of the accident like it was yesterday. It was a beautiful autumn afternoon.
I’ve always been one for denial. When my daughter told me that Veronica had been in an accident I asked, “How do you know?”
She said, “Some of the football kids who were at Sonic came back and said it.”
I said, “Well, we don’t know for sure.”
Then we passed by the site and her yellow backpack was sitting there in the street while the rescue and police were securing the area.
Felt like I could vomit.
I didn’t know Veronica’s mom except for a community service project at the parish, communication about cross country car pooling and a confirmation of a birthday party.
But I did vow that I would not be one to drop off a casserole and just forget about them.
Can good things come out of bad? I guess her mom would have to answer that.
I remember, after we got word of Veronica’s death, thinking that I needed to make that call. Also thinking it would be the worst thing ever. How selfish of me.
Talking to my husband who was away at the time I said, “I can’t call her.”
He said,” You have to….”
I replied, “I know I have to but…”
He told me, “Call her tomorrow.”
I said, “I will.”
And then I paced and paced. Smoked a bunch of cigarettes. Went into my bedroom, locked the door and picked up the phone to dial. Shaking like a leaf on a tree. Knew I wouldn’t sleep if I didn’t call that very night.
Veronica’s mom picked up the phone. When she heard from me she said, “Oh, Mary, I am so glad you called. Your family is one I had hoped I would get to know better.”
We had some things in common. Being on our own in Texas while husbands were working in the Northeast. Cross country girls. Same parish.
A few days later Monsignor called me to say that the family wanted me and another mom to be the speakers at Veronica’s service. I agreed and it was one of the few times I actually felt God’s presence with me. I honestly did not think I could do it but I felt like God was just sitting on my shoulder.
This posting is getting a little long.
Veronica’s mother amazed me in so many ways. When she needed help she knew it and asked for it. And she never wanted to be known just as the mother of the child who died.
When she knew the yard needed raking she said it. And all the cross country kids came out and raked away and bagged up the leaves.
When the thought of taking down Xmas decorations was overwhelming she called me.
When she needed help cleaning the house she let me know. And we got it done. Laughing and crying.
She and her eldest came to my house for dinner and we went to hers. Went to movies and dinner. Had a celebration of life with balloons soaring into the air for Veronica’s birthday.
I guess my posting today is to remember a sweet girl who will forever remain a fourteen year old child to us. Even if ten years have passed.
But it is also a testament to the strength of her mother.
And it is also a reminder to not take even one single day for granted.
A beautiful autumn day or a muggy day.
Seems like a long time ago. Seems like yesterday. Seems like both.
RIP Veronica Grace Sheer