It’s been a few weeks since Veronica Galaviz and I have been able to sit down at our Starbucks meeting place and just talk. Monday, Aug. 2, we got the chance to do so. It’s been almost four months since her late husband broke into the house in the middle of the night, tried to shoot her, and then lit the house on fire and shot himself to death.
From just a few days since the disaster, Veronica and I have been friends, and I’ve been able to watch her go through the recovery process. I’ve taken her donated clothes from friends, helped bring attention to her situation as it involved the Rowlett Police, and been able to see and hear her speak to a small group of concerned citizens at the Limestone County Texas Courthouse.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve also been working with her to get James Claxton (no relation) to begin demolition on her house. That process began last Thursday.
Not surprisingly, Vero hasn’t been out to watch any of the demolition. I’ve been out each day of the process and have taken photos along the way. There will be a video of the demolition process for Claxton’s Demolition Services when they’re finished, and there are a couple hundred photos I’ve taken as it’s progressed.
As you will recall, back in June Veronica and I made our way through the home. That’s such a powerful video and I’m going to include it once again in this post, too.
During our visit Monday, it was obvious that Veronica still is painfully struggling with her recovery. She’s gone through ups and downs and is nursing her way toward getting back to work and trying to resume some sort of normalcy in her life.
After having lost her pets in the fire, she’s now been able to get two cats named Ben and Jerry. She’s had friends come to see her who have taken her out to begin the rebuilding of her wardrobe. And she’s replaced her car that was destroyed in the fire. Those have all been big steps for her. Even sitting there talking to her, she gave me a smile every once in a while as she talked, but she said smiles are hard to come by these days. And they’re mostly forced.
But she’s looking great on the outside. When she walked in the door every guys’ head in the place turned to look at her. I told her a few women looked, too. That got a smile that didn’t seem forced.
She’s working her way back to work. I know that, too, is going to be a monumental milestone for her, just to walk back into her offices again and to try to not think about quarrels with insurance companies for the car, the house, you name it. Soon, hopefully, there will be no more letters from the city threatening to start fining her for not having the house torn down already because the insurance companies were taking their bureaucratic sweet time. I didn’t tell her there also was a freakin sign in front of the house that James found the other day telling her she had to get her grass mowed–what little of it remains. I understand that, to a degree. But I will tell you this, I’ll never move to Rowlett, Texas. Not after the way they’ve handled her pleas for protection, hounded her about getting her house torn down, and now, worrying about the grass–the equivalent of worrying about which way the deck chairs of the Titanic were facing when it sunk.
Her neighbors are glad to see the house coming down, too. I get that. It’s been almost four months with them having to look at a burn out. It’s not been safe for the neighborhood. (In another city, James said he walked around the back of a house he was about to tear down and found a buck naked man giving himself a bath with two 5-gallon buckets of water. He said the local PD there were being nice to him by not arresting him. He’s homeless and had been beaten up pretty badly a few weeks ago. They asked him to collect what little he has and to move along.) The neighbors remain close-knit, and they’ve been protective of what happens at her house since the day or so after when I went by there to take pictures for her attorney’s office and a man from down the street called the police because I was standing in the street taking photos.
During our hour-and-a-half-long chat on Monday, Vero and I talked about how to move forward with her desires to strengthen laws associated with protective order enforcement, etc. We’ve got a lot of work ahead, but it all needs to remain balanced. There are just some things she’s not going to be ready for, and for quite a while.
And as our time wound down, I began to ask her about things that have nothing to do with her ordeal. Have you been to a movie lately? Yes, she saw Eclipse. Gone on any trips? Might be going to see friends soon. Been to see friends? Was going to a dinner party that night–the first one in a long time.
It’s hard to get someone to think about something like parties, trips and movies when they’re in the midst of a emotional storm hopefully almost none of us ever will have to weather. Even for me, who usually can come up with great questions to ask, I felt a little flat.
I cannot imagine what she’s been through and continues to endure. And the question we all would find ourselves asking–Why?–just doesn’t seem to have a good answer.
Here’s the video again from May. It’s still just as powerful as it was two months ago: