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Vanessa Marie Weiss
12/22/87 - 5/12/03

The plight of the dragonfly is both heart wrenching and heartwarming. She begins in a most unassuming manner….as a lowly grub on the bottom of a pond. But, like caterpillars to butterflies, metamorphosis works and she grows out of this common status, rises forcefully to break the surface, and takes beautiful wings up and out of the water.

This wonderful transformation is tempered by the dragonfly's plight…she cannot return to visit her friends at the bottom of the pond. And, even if the grubs could see her flying above the water, they wouldn't recognize her…she isn't the same.

 

Vanessa is our dragonfly.

Vanessa was a vibrant, energetic 15-year old, dividing her time between school, athletics, and an after-school job. Like other teens, she loved shopping, music, and talking on the phone with her friends for hours. What set Vanessa apart from others was her compassion and eagerness to help people. She gladly shared what she had with those less fortunate, and enjoyed helping classmates who were struggling.

Vanessa died on May 12, 2003 from injuries sustained in a single-vehicle accident. She was a passenger in a car that lost control on a gravel road and rolled; all three passengers were ejected. While the other two were treated at a local hospital for minor injuries and released, Vanessa was air-lifted to a regional trauma center where she died two hours later from extensive internal injuries…she never regained consciousness.

Could this accident have been prevented? Absolutely. The driver was unlicensed and inexperienced, without formal driver's training….she celebrated her 15th birthday just four days before the accident; she was using excessive speed and driving inattentively (adjusting the radio); no one in the car was wearing a seat belt. Clearly, there are simple, yet heart wrenching lessons here for all of us.

But, now comes the heartwarming part. Vanessa's death is really the beginning of her new life. Her spirit is alive and taking flight, like the dragonfly. The fact that we cannot see or communicate with her is only because we don't easily recognize her in this new state, this marvelous goodness. I believe that Vanessa will continue to help people because her story and her sense of duty can serve as a reminder to young people to drive attentively, obey traffic laws, and buckle up.

This dragonfly lives in each of us. May Vanessa's spirit, her lesson, live in each of you.

Driving is a privilege, and must be taken seriously. Please remember that as you get behind the wheel to drive.

Mary Weiss, Vanessa's mother

(Facing life without you, Vanessa, is very hard to bear, because losing you the way we did will always seem unfair. You left behind some broken hearts, some happy memories, too, but we never wanted memories, we only wanted you.)