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Angels Among Us

Friday night I had the honor and privileged of grieving with a group of young men and women who sadly lost a dear friend. 17-year-old Sharmaine Lauren Legaspi was killed in a solo car accident Easter evening when she lost control of the car and struck a light pole.

For 3 1/2 hours I sat and listened to story after story of how this young lady deeply touched the hearts and souls of each of her coworkers (cast members at Chuck-e-cheese, Murrieta). One young lady tearfully shared she had never experienced an Easter Egg hunt. Earlier in the day, Sharmaine coordinated a surprise egg hunt specifically for her and asked the other cast members to participate so she could have the full experience. She showed me the last egg found and the card Sharmaine gave her. Another said she only knew Sharmaine for one month but had never felt a friendship so deeply where she could open up and share some of her deep personal pains, "She listened and made me feel accepted." Another young man said he had trouble connecting with peers on a deep level, and with a stuffed animal in hand (Sharmaine loved stuffed animals), he tearfully shared his admiration and pain over loosing such a loving friend. Another young man desired more than anything to help his peers as they grieved and asked me how he could let them know he was there for them. Two others shared how they were present and felt responsible. So much pain was shared in that room surrounded by birthday parties, laughter, and song that one young lady tearfully said, "I don't know how they cannot see our pain." The hardest pains to embrace were the feelings shared of regret, "I wish I had been there. Then this wouldn't have happened."

Because I understand unanswered questions are a huge part of the grieving process, I invited Murrieta Traffic Investigator K. Bridgewaters to attend because he was the attending officer. Often, law enforcement are not included in the grieving process and are left to grieve alone. When Officer Bridgewaters showed up and answered the few questions they had, he remained among them, willing to just sit with them in their grief. They all expressed later their appreciation that he was there.

I grieve every day for our youth who are silently suffering. I grieve with those who work in my office and those who I counsel. I grieve for the stories my therapists share with me in supervision. Sometimes, I grieve with my therapists over the pain that remains after the children leave. So much pain in such little hearts is why we rise to the call to help. These young hearts who feel so deeply over the loss of a friend, truly were blessed to have known one of the angels among us.


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