Ten years ago today Vanessa was killed. No, ten years ago today Vanessa was murdered by a drunk driver. I won’t go into the horrific details of her death or the hand slap her killer got from a jury. Vanessa means more to me than she could ever mean to the inept members of that Florida jury.
I keep this scrap of paper to remind me of her smile. I keep it to remind me of her playing ball in my front yard with her brother. I keep it to remember her giggling in the dining room. I keep it so that I will always remember Vanessa.
Her father called her a butterfly; he was right. Sadly we know that a butterflies beauty is not meant to last. We need to cherish them during the moments they enter our lives before they too soon leave.
I don’t know what became of Vanessa’s family. They had moved away from here to live in Florida in a gated community where they thought they’d be safe. For awhile I’d hear from her father, unbearable grief in his voice; her mother never able to talk. And then they were gone. Their email addresses were dead. Their Florida home sold. I know they are thinking of Vanessa today. This is now the only connection I have with them.
I wonder if today the death of Vanessa will ever cross the mind of the drunk driver? At the time of her death Vanessa was almost nine; her killer was 29. Twenty years difference in age, but today he is 39. Vanessa is still almost nine.
I will put this scrap of paper back up on the bookshelf where I keep it. I will forget it’s there until I see it out of the corner of my eye. Then I will remember Vanessa and the moments I spent with the butterfly.