When I was in high school, there were a few people that I aspired to be. I had hair envy, I had body envy. But there was only one person who gave me brain envy. Her name was Valerie Veerman and she was the smartest person, I knew and usually the smartest person in the room. We were in several honors classes together over my 4 years of hell. I hated honors classes because I knew I was too stupid to engage in whatever activity the teacher would ask of us. But Val was different, she was always prepared and engaged and smart. She was always willing to give classroom support, when I had the balls to ask. She always seems so well rounded and stable in the most unstable times of high school. There were even times when the two of us would hang out outside of the classroom but I was too awe-struck to utter more than 2 words to her. High school ended and everyone went on their way. I had no idea Val would come back into my life 25 years later.
When Peter died, she reached out to me with compassion and love as many people did but Val was different, she kept reaching out with love and compassion, years after Peter died. Not because she wanted anything from me, except to know how I was doing. I thought that was the end of my dealings with Val but I was happily surprised when we decided to gather for a girl’s weekend. I was nervous at first because how could I get blackout drunk with the almighty Val watching. In my mind her opinion of me was still paramount, I couldn’t let Val see the true me, the messy me, the me that likes to let loose, even if it was 1000 years since high school. The first day of the first weekend, I was a mess. Desperately trying to maintain my decorum, eating Taco Bell with a fork, using a haughty fake laugh instead of my normal banshee scream. Our first evening spent all together at girl’s weekend made me realize that Val could not care less about my decorum. Her only concern for our group was how we were, were we content in our lives, fulfilled by our careers, our love lives.
The first weekend I spent with Val was eye-opening because I became aware of her. I really saw her as a person, not the legend I created in my head. What I saw was a kind, honest, genuine person that cared about the world around her. She is a woman that goes above the bare minimum in everything she does. The best thing about Val is not only does she have a brilliant mind; she has a brilliant heart. She is fiercely protective of the ones she loves and she gives that love so freely, you begin to wonder if it’s real. She truly is the perfect mix of brains and beauty. She carries herself with such ease, it would be easy for her to take over the world but she would never do such an evil deed. In our recent times together, she has become one of my rocks, my stability during unstable times, my go-to person when I cannot go-to myself. I am so fortunate to have spent the times I have spent with her but I am even luckier to call her my friend.