Posts Tagged ‘Veronica’

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






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Most of you know that Rory lost her friend Veronica when they were fourteen years old. Veronica had been hit by a car while crossing the street after school.

Tomorrow would have been her twenty-second birthday.  So, of course, I have been thinking about her.

What you may not have known is that the girl driving the car that hit her was also a student at the same high school.

You can imagine school letting out on a beautiful autumn day. Streams of kids walking home. Loads of cars. Moms and carpools.

It was an accident. As tragic as it was.

Rumors went wild about the young driver.

A lot of the community’s energy was focused on the victim of the accident. Okay, most. Truth be told. All.

Except that I do recall something. Annie’s soccer coach, Lisa, made dinner for another family that was also devastated by the accident. Her neighbor across the street. The family of the young driver. I remembered thinking how very compassionate it was of Lisa.

While they didn’t lose a daughter this family was also very much effected. The girl ended up transferring to another school. I also remember being in a restaurant some months later and my Rory whispered, “That’s the girl who hit Veronica.”

My heart and mind was obviously with Veronica’s family at that time.  But I often think about how we forget that so many folks are effected by tragic events. The young girl will never forget that day. That accident. I am sure the course of her life was utterly changed. As was her family’s. The whispers. Always being the girl who hit Veronica.

And that was an accident. Imagine the families of people who purposefully commit atrocities.

It is normal to open our hearts to victims. To side with the wronged or aggrieved party. It’s easier and, of course, no one wants to be seen as sympathetic to the other side.

Truly had me thinking about what real compassion might be.

I remember seeing the real life story, made into a television movie, where Sister Helen Prejean (played by Susan Sarandon) was the sole spiritual support for a rapist and killer. Whoa. Not sure I could do that. But I was in awe of her.

Recently saw a photo of Pope Francis. He was kissing a severely disfigured man on his head. Not sure I could do that either. I would like to think that I could but the reality is that I might not. It wouldn’t be easy. But I was in awe of him.

Now, granted, these last two examples are of people who are probably more compassionate than most. Whether through God’s gift or training.

There are so many people out there that would benefit from the difficult acts of compassion. Maybe all are victims. In some way. Maybe not. I hope that one day I might be truly compassionate. Not just when I am on the right side of it. And when it’s easy.

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