Immediately after Marvel’s death I fell into a major funk, crying on and off almost every day. Life felt so incredibly fragile and shaky. I tried not to think about the tragedy, but it would inevitably sneak up on me at the most inopportune times — during an aerobics class where there was an older lady attending, who resembled Marvel; at the grocery store; while driving — no setting was immune to the waves of grief that would envelop me and move me to tears.
When I would try to talk to Chuck about it, he would insist I “Just stop thinking about it.” He wasn’t necessarily being insensitive; my own sadness was dragging him into a funk, and he simply didn’t have the skillset to navigate his own emotions.
Now and then my feelings would gravitate toward anger. I wanted to find the 17-year old who was responsible for Marvel’s death, and strangle her. It turns out the young woman had been drinking in a bar, distraught about the breakup of her relationship with her boyfriend. (The bar would later find itself in a lawsuit, having served a minor that eventually killed someone). She then got into her car and headed down the 55 freeway toward the ocean and barreled right into Vic and Marvel’s car.
(Later I would find out that Vic remembered Marvel’s last words as they were coming up on the intersection and he started to slow at the yellow light, were, “Oh, Vic, just go through it.” Not listening, he stopped at the light.)
Because the young woman was only 17, her name was not released, which is probably a good thing, on many counts. Although she was required to show up in court, plus do community service, she served no prison time, because of her age. The slap on the hand she received for her actions was a slap in the face to all who knew and loved Marvel.
We would also find out that the young woman’s family was quite well off, which may have had an impact on her lighter sentence.
When I tried to express to Chuck how livid I was that the guilty party in Marvel’s death would basically walk, not having to be more accountable, Chuck’s response was basically, “Some people build their own prisons.”
That wasn’t quite enough for me. “I want her to pay! She didn’t kill just anyone — she killed Marvel!”
There was no service for Marvel, but a celebration of life was in the works down the road, once Vic was feeling up for it. Meanwhile, her remains were cremated and ashes scattered on the ocean in a private ceremony.
About a week after Marvel died, Lynn called me and we had a very soothing conversation. Much closer to Vic and Marvel, she and husband Armando had gotten the call from the hospital the night of the accident, and they were with Vic when the doctor announced that Marvel didn’t make it (she was actually killed instantly, but Vic had no idea, as he was in and out of consciousness in the ambulance with his wife). The three of them all held each other and cried.
I was so grateful that Lynn took the time to reach out to me (I have a feeling Chuck may have had a hand in it). In our phone conversation Lynn and I cried a bit, but in talking about the 17-year-old woman, Lynn’s attitude was, no matter whatever happened to her, whatever price she paid, nothing was going to bring Marvel back. Somehow that helped to assuage my anger and frustration, and I was able to go back to the healing process.
To be continued.