Holly Smith-Wyatt and Vahnessa Estien met in the most unusual way. The two women have never physically met, but share something in common. Their story began when both Vahnessa, who resides in Florida, and Holly, who resides in Alabama, lost a child to drowning. It was Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when 2 year old Soleila Estien and 3 year old Drake Speegle died on November 27, 2009. It was Drake’s birthday.
As expected, both women experienced a variety of emotions. From denial, anger, fear, guilt, more denial to acceptance eventually. Not knowing what their life would be like with Soleila and Drake now gone, both mothers, unaware of the other’s loss, turned to God and prayer. Through prayer, they learned to accept the events that occurred while finding inner strength and the will to go on.
Vahnessa and Holly had a strong support system that included their husbands, their local church and close family and friends. They went on to have more children and became stay-at-home moms. But not a day went by that they didn’t think about Soleila and Drake as news of other drowning deaths involving a child hit home. Both mothers who know a profound sense of loss, decided to channel their grief through reaching out to other families and offering support. It was in doing this that led them to cross paths.
One day, Holly came upon an on-line article about Vahnessa and the tragic loss of her daughter and immediately felt a connection. Taking notice of the parallel between them, she sent a compassionate letter to the writer of the article in hopes to connect with the grieving mom. When Vahnessa read Holly’s email, she was deeply moved and reached out to her. They shared their stories of grief and road to recovery and quickly forged a friendship, which subsequently led to a partnership.
In keeping their children’s memory alive, the two mothers strucked a wonderful partnership and created A Rainbow for Us, a memorial website dedicated to the children who's been lost to drowning. Vahnessa and Holly don’t believe in coincidences and believe meeting each other was the divine operations of God. They believe things happen for a reason. A Rainbow for Us is seen as that reason.
Two mothers who have never met unite to share their message of hope for a world where children no longer die...as a result of drowning.