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Tragedy, grief, love and joy

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A tale of tragedy, grief, love and joy told in snippets.


Facebook post, February 26, 2011Vergil and Leona Vant

On this day in 1944, my young parents were married. After Dad came home from the war, they were rarely apart. My parents held hands and danced in the kitchen. They approached life with a healthy dose of humor and common sense. After 55 years of living together, they died together.

Happy anniversary in Heaven to Ma and Pa. Always in my heart and in my dreams.

I’ll see you again…



March 1999

“Do you remember Becky Vant?” my mom asked as we chatted on the phone.

“Of course! She was one of my best friends in junior high until she went to that other high school in the district,” I teased. “I haven’t seen her in years. Why do you bring her up?”

“This is just awful,” Mom began, “Becky’s parents and her sister Wendy were all killed in a train accident in Illinois a few days ago.”

“Oh my god . . . what happened?”

“A semi-truck drove onto the tracks and the train crashed into it. No one knows all the details yet.”

“I can’t believe it! I wish I knew where Becky was so I could talk with her.”


March 2010

Becky finds me on Facebook. Now Rebecca Phillips, married and with kids of her own, we catch up on the past twenty-five years and then our messages turn to our shared experience of grief.

Becky, I write, my grief after losing Ruth was so much more difficult than I ever thought it would be. How did you ever make it through after the train accident?

Oh, Bobbi, it was so hard, Becky responded. There were days when I couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t work, couldn’t take care of my kids . . . Somehow, between my faith and the love of those around me, I’ve made it this far. But I still think about my parents and Wendy every day.


Facebook post, February 27, 2011

Becky responds after receiving 25 comments on her post

Thank you all. Every day of my life, I become more and more convinced that I am one of the luckiest people around, because I have an amazing family and a phenomenal group of friends. I love your stories and I appreciate all of your generosity and love.

Life is good.   


In loving memory of Vergil, Leona, and Wendy Vant. Your “lucky” daughter and sister continues to teach us that, even after tragedy, life is good.

Bobbi Emel is a therapist who helps people in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mountain View and the greater Bay Area manage their stress and develop their strengths.
She is effective in helping people dealing with anxiety, worry and grief; and also those who want to improve their effectiveness and performance.