As she was driving home from her job at Home Depot, where she worked the early shift that allowed her to get off mid-afternoon, the sun was shining and the cool ocean breeze was blowing across Galveston Island. She was a mere block away from her driveway. As she was passing one final intersection, her car was hit with such velocity and force that it split in two and exploded balls of fire. Wreckage was scattered for nearly a block, as parked cars along both sides of the street could not escape the damage. Unfortunately, with such a blow, death was certain, with the only question being whether it was quick and painless from the blow or slow and agonizing from the fire. Either way, the beautiful day turned into the ultimate disaster in the blink of an eye.
On Monday, April 8, 2013, my family lost a great woman. She was our cousin, but more like an aunt to my brother and me. She was the closest person to a sister my mother had known for over 40 years. She leaves behind three wonderful, heartbroken children and three adorable, bewildered grandchildren. The shock of it all is still here; the emotion still raw. Anyone who knew her feels the loss of her spirit, love, kindness, and generosity. Mere words, however sincere and true, cannot measure her blessed nature and spirit.
Two days later, we have learned more about the tragedy. Our sorrow for her loss now leaves room for anger at the cause: drunk driving. It was hard enough for her small car to sustain a direct hit by a half-ton Chevrolet full-size pickup. There was no hope, however, when that pickup was being driven by a drunk woman at a dangerously high speed through a residential neighborhood. The healing hasn't even started, and our family is faced with so many unanswered questions. Those questions have to be asked; they will continue to be asked.
But now is not the time to focus on the cause of her death. It is instead time to celebrate her life. She was a wonderful mother and the ultimate grandmother. She was not a rich woman, but she spoiled her family with love and affection. She was not a boastful woman, but she exuded pride whenever her children and grandchildren came up in conversation. She was not a socialite, but she was the best host, guest, and friend one could ask for in this life. All in all, she was an amazing woman without ever having to brag about it.
As with all things suddenly taken from us, we realize that we took her presence for granted, and yet I am blessed to have so many memories of her in my life. I remember our family visiting hers as I was growing up, playing with her children and listening to her laughter and cheer in the background as she and my mother exchanged stories about life. I remember her having to reinvent herself to pick up the pieces and become stronger than ever after her divorce in order to take care of her kids and keep moving forward. I remember dancing with her as we celebrated my college graduation in some long-forgotten dance club on Sixth Street in Austin. I remember her joy and happiness at the prospect of being able to move to Galveston and live a more relaxing and peaceful lifestyle. I remember her sitting on the porch and enjoying the cool breeze and good company. I remember her love of the Mardi Gras parades and the Independence Day fireworks through the years. I remember her hosting Thanksgiving and enjoying her family. Most of all, and perhaps most simply, I remember her being there, always. I treasure her presence while mourning the loss of it.
Andrea, our sweet Andrea, you will forever be in my heart. You carried on the example of love from Nanny and you handed it down to your children, who are passing it down to theirs. Say hello to Nanny, Grandma Sanchez, Grandpa Flood, Toni, Grandpa Markentel, Bill and Cruz, Bill Knight, and all the others you now join in perfection. Thank you for your everlasting love, support, and encouragement.
My love to you always,