Life is Fragile...


Psalm 42:11 NAS "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed with me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance, and my God."


1993 was a phenomenal year for my family.   Summer had come to an end and Charlie was home.  It was a good feeling -- a safe feeling -- to have my kids all home.  But life is fragile, and "safe" was an illusion that was not to be. 


Halloween fell on Sunday that year.  Veronica often spent the weekend with her friend who lived across town, so when she asked to go that weekend, I really didn't give it much thought.


I believe that all life's experiences happen for a reason.  I further believe that something good can come from everything, especially if we share our experiences to help others.    That is why I later  wrote to a local columnist about our experience that Halloween night...  "I am hoping that sharing our experience will serve as a reminder to other parents and young people about the dangers of Trick or Treating."  Our story was related to her readers by Terri Bibo in her Journal Star newspaper column, October 26, 1994:


A Scary Halloween -- Indeed


Perhaps as the fist rammed into her jaw, Veronica reconsidered her Halloween costume.


"Don't ask me what she was supposed to be," says mother Pat, who had said it was OK for Veronica, her youngest child, to go trick or treating dressed as a cheerleader.  But mom didn't know that  Veronica changed her plans while spending the night with friends. 


Veronica herself doesn't remember.  She doesn't remember who hit her or anything else up to the time those friends took her home last Halloween.


But whether or not it was a good idea for a 5-foot 88-pound 13-year-old to dress as a ghoulish vagrant with a blood dripping fake knife, nobody worried about being mugged over a costume and candy.


They would now.  That's why Veronica and her mother want to share their last Halloween. You might think twice when the trick or treaters head out the door in the next few days. 


"Good can come from anything," Pat says.  "If we can warn another parent. . . ."


So here goes.  Up until last year, Veronica always had been chaperoned on Halloween.  But the four girls involved on her 13th Halloween didn't think it was necessary for an older brother to go along.  Later, when the four older boys in camouflage began to follow them, the girls began to feel differently, and one of them headed back.


"Every time we'd, like, cross a street, they'd cross the street and go to the same house," Veronica says.


The rest of the girls also decided to go home.  They cut through a parking lot near Arcadia and Bigelow streets when the boys caught up with them.  (The rest of this is according to Veronica's friends, because she doesn't remember.)  The boys demanded Veronica's knife.  She said it was fake and demonstrated by placing the plastic tip against her arm.  One boy grabbed her bag of Halloween candy.  Veronica reached for it, and a second boy socked her in the face.


All the boys ran off; the girls headed to the house where they were spending the night.  Veronica was so shaken that they took her home.  As they drove, they spotted the boys.  Veronica was dropped at home and her family called police while her friend's father took off to chase them.


Police did catch one of the four - not the one who punched Veronica - and brought him to her house.  That shook Veronica even more, but he did back up the girls story.


However, nothing ever happened to any of the boys.  Veronica didn't remember, and her friend changed her mind about identifying them.


The fallout for Veronica was more severe.  She could barely talk for several days.


'Now I realize I probably should have taken her to the emergency room," her mother says.  "At the time, I think I was more concerned over her emotional state.  She was terrorized.  She shook, she  just shook for hours."


Veronica missed a week of school, making up sickness after sickness because she was afraid, until her father called a halt and said she had to move on.  At this point, she's moved on so far that she wants to go out this weekend, in a large group, and her mother is the one who's afraid.


"Here's the $2.  She can buy her own bag of candy," Pat says as Veronica rolls her eyes.


It's not quite funny.  Although family members have had three traffic accidents in the past year, which puts the Halloween incident in perspective, it could have been worse.


"All three of these girls could have been seriously hurt . . . raped, killed," Pat says.


 Journal Star Wednesday, October 26, 1994


   Never take it for granted....  Life is fragile, handle it with prayer!

October 24, 2005