Ten Years Missing.
I wasn’t planning on writing about it today. The date had been in the back of my mind as the long weekend approached. Following lunch today, after Brad and the kids had left the table, I asked Siri (yes, I am one of those people) what day of the week September 4, 2010, had been.
It was a Saturday.
The last day there is evidence of my best friend Rachael and her boyfriend Jonathan in this earthly world. They had gone on a three-day hike north of Pemberton, BC. Neither of them returned. The police found Jonathan’s vehicle on an old forestry road, a receipt for Tim Horton’s date-stamped the early morning of September 4, 2010, inside.
I still see her. Weekly sometimes, most of the time less often. Today, it was at the Vancouver Aquarium. A slight, blond woman stood holding her kid, watching the sea lions. I glimpsed the woman from behind for all of one second, her golden curls shining in the sun. In that one second, I saw a strange woman, lucky as all of us to be alive, and I saw my dear, sweet Rachael. I always do. Ironically enough, it’s usually a curly-haired blond woman on a bike, a mess of hair sticking out from underneath a helmet, that catches my attention—she used to ride her bike everywhere. I’m always caught off-guard. Always thinking it’s her.
How can I not?
She’ll never be a mother, never meet my kids. I feel like a broken record sometimes at how often I think or say or write these things about my best friend. But the pain I feel connected to the future she never had warrants attention.
I mean, I wrote a book to her, after all. Letters to the Mountain. 377 pages that would never exist if it were not for the one place I don’t let myself go down. The what-ifs.
Grief is a strange beast on its own, at the best of times. Emotions are so different for every person, in every circumstance. This one is no different.
Closure is another layer that comes along with traumatic events, at least it does for me. And getting closure in a situation that has no ending, happy or otherwise, is really, really hard.
We said good bye to the Aquarium today. They’re closing, for Covid reasons and tough financial times. It was not so much a good bye as a see you later, as hopefully they will open to the public when it’s financially viable again.
Maverick’s favourite animals were the penguins. They were swimming around like crazy, splashing us and having fun with each other in the water. Archer liked the blacktip reef shark best, Brad the burping, barking sealions. I felt drawn to the sea otters. The first one we saw was floating on its back in the water, clutching a bucket, its fuzzy little paws holding on, still, but floating. Another was tumbling around in the water, spinning by itself while another watched from nearby. Last, we saw a small, approximately 11-week old pup who had been rescued from the ocean when it was only a couple of weeks old. It was sleeping while one of the zoo-workers combed its fur. We were told that they have to keep themselves clean so that their fur can keep them warm in the water, and this young pup wasn’t strong enough to do that yet.
Now that I’m reflecting on it, it makes me think that that’s what we’re all trying to do, at the root of things? Stay afloat.
Today is one of those days for me. It’s been a rough couple of weeks with the kids, the adjustment back to school is upon us already, and I am allowing myself to take some time to just be sad today.
I lost my best friend after all.
And there is no getting her back.
The day we showed up twinning to walk the seawall together. (2007)
I will always carry a piece of her in my heart, even if the time comes when I am old that I cannot remember anymore, and much more than ten years missing has passed. I’m not looking for sympathy, though I do appreciate it. My ask of you today, as a reader, as a friend, is just to share. Share my story, this blog post, share your sentiments with those close to you that might need to hear how much you care today. And, be kind to one another, always.
Enjoy the long weekend.
From my heart,