It was an ordinary morning 5 years ago today. A cup of coffee on the couch, staying in as everything still looked white and cold outside. There was no sign of spring in sight. I called home and my Dad answered the phone and related where everyone was and what they were all doing. Not far into the conversation I heard the other extension pick up. "Hi Beag!" Jaycena said, using a nickname for me. She reminded me that this was the weekend volleyball tournament that she was playing in and had been looking forward too for a couple of weeks. She told me how it had been going so far, which games were left to play, and after a few minutes left the conversation to go back to me and my Dad. She broke back in and said "Bye Beag, love you." "Love you too, have fun." I remember remarking to my Dad after that what an awesome kid she was, as it never ceased to amaze me that she never went through a phase where she was too old or too cool to make time for her aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins, and never dropped the affectionate banter when she turned 14, or 15, or 16. She had brightened my day, as always.
I didn't know, on that ordinary morning 5 years ago, that that was our last goodbye. I didn't know that I would receive a phone call that night that would forever change who I am, and everyone who knew her and her friends Brooke and Laramie.
I can say that 5 years doesn't make it easier. You may be surprised to hear that it actually gets harder. You see, at one year, I knew she would be 17 and would be in Grade 11. That she would still be a setter on the volleyball team, be giving her little brother a hard time but still looking out for him in that way that older siblings do as they treat their younger counterparts as an old favorite and familiar possession. I knew she would be driving the little red car, wearing a favorite hoodie, carrying her ipod everywhere. When I would see her friend's facebook updates, I knew she would have been at that tournament, celebrating that friend's birthday, hanging at the park. It was the same 2 years out, except this was the big senior year. She would graduate. I looked at dresses online and chose one that I imagined her picking...bright orange organza and silk, shining like she did. At 3 years, I knew she would be in secondary school. But I didn't know if she would have chosen a College or University. Would she still have wanted to do graphic design like she did when she was 15 and 16? At 4 years, I knew she would still be in college or University. But when a new Taylor Swift song came out I wondered if she would still love it, or if her tastes in music would have changed. I wondered but was no longer certain if she would still prefer Silver brand jeans, Lu Lu Lemon, and Hollister. She would be old enough to be engaged if she wanted to be. Would she be hoping to travel, or maybe shopping for wedding dresses, or just enjoying making her place in the world?
Today when I think of the girl I knew so well I am pained by mystery. If she chose college she could be done, whereas in University she would be third year. She may or may not be in the workforce or a student. She could be anywhere. She might be travelling. She might be single, she might be engaged. And after 5 years of not seeing her changes, likes, and dislikes, she could really be anyone. The only thing I know is I would love her. She would make me laugh, and smile. I am pretty sure she would meet me with a hug at the door.
No, 5 years is not easier. And there is no such thing as an ordinary day. I miss you terribly, but celebrate my memories and the joy of knowing you daily. Love you today, always, and forever Jaycena. Shine bright Laramie and Brooke.