A Letter to heaven.
While buying shampoo at a beauty supply store, I see a small basket containing different shades of nail polish. Which color would Valentina like? I imagined she would respond “all of them” or “the yellow one.” Suddenly the reality of my daughter no longer here begins to hit and my heart begins to ache. My little girl, my mermaid is gone. My daughter is dead. Tears begin to pool in my eyes but as each day goes by, somehow I’ve mastered the art of swallowing my tears. The clerk begins to ring me up, I put a smile on my face and ask, “Cute nail polishes. What’s my total?” Walking to my car, I ask Valentina, “Please tell that you’re not gone, forever? Please tell me that you’re still here with me?”
On the evening of December 7, 2013, I dropped my 16 year old daughter, Valentina, and her best friend, Mazzy, off at their girlfriend’s house for a “Girl’s Night” followed with a sleepover at Mazzy’s house. My daughter looked so happy, smiling, excited and loving life as she knocked at her friend’s door wearing her beanie and unicorn backpack. I got emotional knowing Valentina has a cute life with her friends since I didn’t have this growing up. When I arrived home, I sent her a text: “Are you sure you don’t want me to pick you up?” Her last words to me: “No, Mami. It’s okay.”
My daughter’s friend was invited to a kickback party. Valentina and Mazzy agreed to go since their girlfriend insisted she didn’t want to go alone. Their friend got drunk and the friend who drove them to the party agreed to take them home. Valentina and Mazzy got in the backseat while their friend was passed out in the front seat of his Mustang. On the way home, the driver was challenged to a street race. While traveling at a high rate of speed, he ran a red light at an intersection and collided with an SUV on Valentina’s side. My daughter was killed on impact with head trauma as she was partially ejected from the back window. Later I found out the driver of the mustang had been drinking and smoking marijuana. I frequently ask myself what killed Valentina. My answer: If the driver hadn’t taken the street race challenge while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, my daughter will still be alive. As parents we are not supposed to bury our children; our children are supposed to bury their parents. My daughter did not choose to be an example but she is.
At 1:00 AM, Valentina’s friend called frantically and said I needed to hurry up and get to the hospital. Valentina was in a car accident. My 21 year old son and I headed to the crash scene to find out everyone was taken to Harbor UCLA emergency room. When we arrived at the hospital, I asked Mazzy where Valentina was. “VALENTINA DIED!” her friend responded as she cried hysterically. I collapsed to the floor while my son picked me up. I kept thinking this was all a misunderstanding and she wasn’t gone but law enforcement confirmed Valentina was killed. My son had to identify her body with pictured taken by their phone. Anything that followed became a blur.
Living with the pain of my daughter no longer here has become my new norm. I volunteer with MADD and speak at local schools to create an awareness in our communities. Parents often rank drugs as more dangerous than alcohol. However, alcohol is a drug, and the drug most commonly used by youth — more than tobacco and more than marijuana or any other illicit drug combined — killing about 4,700 people each year. Teen drug use often starts with alcohol and is often abused in combination with alcohol.
MADD has been an incredible support to my grief and together we are making a difference to save others from the same fate. Because of friends like YOU, last year MADD Southern California provided more than 160,000 supportive services to drunk and drugged driving victims to help them cope with the devastating impact of substance-impaired driving crashes. Would you be willing to make a special mid-year donation? Tax deductible donations like ours allow MADD to provide services at no charge to our communities such as victim support, crisis literature, and educational prevention and awareness programs to youth and adults.