Brad Wendland’s phone call was both unexpected and heartbreaking.
Unexpected because most parents do not return calls to the media when they have just suffered the loss of a child.
Heart-breaking because Wendland did.
“She was an incredible girl,” the father said of his daughter, Abby. “The love of our life. ...”
At that, the father paused, his grief palpable even through the earpiece of a telephone, his voice tapering into a bottomless silence.
“There’s just not much more that can be said.”
Abby was involved in a car accident Friday afternoon as she pulled her Nissan Altima onto Highway 13 near Waseca and was struck by a semi. Though she was airlifted to a hospital in Rochester, the junior at Waseca High School died the next day. Her funeral is 2 p.m. today at Grace Lutheran Church in Waseca.
Since Abby’s death, the community has been in mourning. Grief counseling has been available for teachers and students. Prayer services and candlelight vigils have been held in her memory. Facebook posts and YouTube videos have lamented her loss. Classmates, teammates and friends of Abby and her two siblings, Matt and Olivia, have visited the family to offer hugs and condolences.
Wendland said such sentiment and support have buoyed the family’s spirits and provided strength in a time of weakness.
“I want to thank the entire community of Waseca for the outpouring of love,” Wendland said. “We are so lucky to live in a community like this.”
Her father said Abby “lived a full life” during her 16 years.
She was an award-winning participant in band and choir. She was a dancer and cheerleader. She was on the school’s golf, speech and law teams and was helping to plan this year’s prom.
As a member of Grace Lutheran Church, she sang duets with her dad and sister, taught Sunday school and attended mission trips. She was a Girl Scout, baby sitter, avid reader and poet.
Recently, her father said he opened an envelope from the school. It was Abby’s report card. She had earned straight A’s and was ranked No. 1 in her class.
“She was just everything a father could hope for in a daughter.”