Photo by Lydia Kearney Carlis C Suite Pics
Veronica Very has overcome the deaths of her mother, brother and daughter and now provides comfort to women dealing with personal tragedies and insecurities.
“There were 12 of us. No makeup, jewelry, or cellphones. We came into the circle bare and undistracted as we listened to each other. As each sister told her story, we heard our own. And in our truth, we got liberated.”
Those are the words of Veronica Very, of Seattle, Wash. She’s a creative visionary leader known for her ability to organize events for people of diverse backgrounds to raise awareness and activate consciousness. She’s an enthusiastic activist transforming thousands using storytelling that heals and liberates.
Very’s trauma began at the age of 12. Her assailant was her mother Glennell’s boyfriend. She remained in the relationship even after Very confessed the molestation.
“She was being domestically abused and suffering from alcoholism,” Very said.
Her mom didn’t leave, so she did.
“I found my escape by marrying my close friend, Wayne, at the age of 18. He enlisted in the Army and accepted a deployment assignment in Germany,” stated Very. “That’s where our daughter, AshleAriane ‘Ash’ Amor, was born.”
Ash would be diagnosed with sickle cell anemia by the age of 2, which brought them back to the United States. Ash’s symptoms were so severe she spent nearly 160 days floating her residency between various hospitals every year for the first 25 years of her life.
This led the charge for Very to become an advocate for those battling sickle cell anemia. In 2010, she launched the Very Bright Foundation to Break Sickle Silence for people living, suffering and dying from the disease.
Very said Glennell got sober and became a strong support system for her and Ash. Very and Wayne, whom she acknowledges was more of a friend, and not really her love, parted ways.
As a single mother, Very established an impressive career spanning from hospitality, politics, entertainment and beauty. Her resume lists large corporations such as Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Nordstrom, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, MAC Cosmetics, and Stellar International Networks. She said her career highlights include being key organizer for President Barack Obama’s Re-election Luncheon at the Seattle Paramount Theater in 2011; Stellar Women Leadership Delegations to China; C200’s Pacific Northwest Conference; and Seattle Sweden Week featuring Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria.
These highlights would later be dimmed by Very learning her beloved mother, Glennell, was going into renal failure from her previous years of alcohol abuse. A numbing Very said this was precipitated by the death of her brother, Keith.
“After being arrested on a minor charge, while in police custody, they beat him to death. His body was returned to us unrecognizable. He was my best friend,” recalled Very. A break in her voice revealed a wound. “By the grace of God, I was able to extend my mother’s life by giving her one of my kidneys.”
Very credits the year it took her to recover from transplant surgery for a much-needed break in her vigorous career. It’s heartbreaking that Glennell would be laid to rest within five years of the surgery, from a stroke.
“There is a joy that gives you hope deep down at the bottom of your loss. Tapping into this hope will help you survive and thrive when you feel like you could die,” said Very. “There is a knowing in your faith that helps to anchor and calibrate your equilibrium while your heart breaks and crumbles in your new reality. Tapping into the anchor of your faith will keep you from falling when you can’t find your balance.”
This wisdom would bring Very through far more rugged terrain.
Ash was in her early 20’s, blossoming into a beautiful woman with goals and dreams. Having been introduced to makeup through Very’s career stint at Nordstrom’s as a top sales person of MAC cosmetics, Ash developed a love for it. She became a talented makeup artist who longed to live in Los Angeles.
“I wanted her to be happy. And I was afraid of losing her. Several of her friends with sickle cell had started passing away. They were her age, that scared me,” said Very. “But, no one should make fear-based decisions.”
Very wanted to share her life with her daughter. She filled a moving truck of their belongings and shipped them to L.A., where she had a job waiting for her. But a cruel twist of fate left them with a harsh reality. Before she and Ash were scheduled to fly out, Ash got sick and was hospitalized again.
“While I was visiting Ash in the hospital, I slipped and fell injuring my hip and shoulder so badly that I was admitted too,” explained Very. “When I was released, I had nowhere to go. I’d already signed over my lease, our possessions were in L.A., I could no longer accept the job… it forced me into an emergency lodging situation. I lived in a shelter for 30 days.”
She was homeless. Yet, Very remained hopeful.
“I remember reorganizing the living space in the shelter,” she laughed. “I helped women with their resumes, and I provided resources and information I felt they were being denied,” recalled Very.
Ash lived that year, but sadly, at the age of 28, in July 2017, she passed away from complications related to sickle cell anemia.
“Just when you think the end of a thing is devastating, life altering and scary, God will divinely orchestrate showing you otherwise. There is a greater good, a deeper meaning and balm of healing orchestrated in the high place where your soul resides, a symphony of memories, purpose and power that will hold you and carry you through your grieving hours,” imparted Very. “The final years of Ash’s life were happy. She did make it to L.A., she became a successful make-up artist, and she also found love.”
Very honors her mother, Glennell; brother, Keith; and daughter, Ash, with her life’s work. In 2016, Very founded Wonder of Women (WOW) International. WOW creates sacred space through workshops, retreats and conferences to inspire black women and girls to find their voice; stand in their truth and celebrate their wonder by telling their story.
“We as women can allow our issues and insecurities to prevent us from connecting. WOW allows us a private experience to make our ‘stuff’ public,” said Very.
It’s been 24 months since Very enthralled WOW’s first dozen listeners while sharing her story at the Rainbow Lodge Retreat Center in North Bend, Wash. The encounter was so powerful, it broke a levee for other women. Today, these private storytelling transformations are taking place in Washington state, D.C., Maryland, Florida and South Africa!
The mere 1,000 words of this article does no justice to the incredible content that was disclosed. With each blow life has dealt this indestructible woman, I found myself gasping as she weaved the phases of her life’s story into a fabric that now blankets her with comfort.
Very enjoys partnership in business and in love, with her fiancé Hiawatha D. They are set to marry in June. To learn more about Very, visit www.thewonderofwomen.org
Claudia Parker is an author, journalist and photographer/videographer. Unfortunately, this will be her final column for The Reporter. She can be reached at AuthorClaudiaParker@yahoo.com