The night my sister went missing, September 26, 2003. I felt something was wrong, something with my sister. Correction: I knew something was wrong because I could feel it in my soul- my sister calling out to me. When I’ve shared this ‘feeling’ with people they will often look at me with part pity and part disbelief- not really believing I felt anything. Some want to believe me (or look like they want to) but the uncomfortableness (is that a word?, if not then it should be) makes them say “but if you did know, could you of really done anything.” No question mark because they are not really asking.
My therapist, whom I saw for three sessions, asked me the same question, rhetorically it seemed as well. I give the “three session” disclaimer because I feel “my therapist” implies to the reader the idea that I have worked through the death and murder of my sister… but I have not. Writing the events and my thoughts out is my attempt, 16 years later.
The 26th of September was a Friday. I graduated college but was still living in my New York college town- bartending at a nearby restaurant and having fun. That night, I closed the bar. My sister, 3 years younger than me, was working at McDonalds in Oregon, Ohio. She had an 10 month old baby and was no longer with the 17 year old boy who got her pregnant. Unfortunately, she was with another guy. This other guy asked her to marry him after a few months of dating. I met him twice, barely. As her older sister, I didn’t plan on giving him much of my time.
I came home from closing the bar and crashed on my bed. Work, that night, tired me out and for some reason my spirt felt exhausted. I glanced at my night stand, which held a picture of me and my sister. I picked it up and held it against my chest and sobbed. Not regular sad crying but heart-broken crying which physically hurt. I didn’t know why I felt so much pain for her, why my soul was so sad at her image, why I was crying… I looked at the clock as I fell asleep, it was 3:07 am, September 27, 2003.
The next morning I reflected a bit on my crying and thought maybe I was crying because we (myself and family) were sad about Christina’s recent choices. She was dating this gross east Toledo guy, he looked like trash. She was smoking and possibly experimenting with other drugs because he definitely looked like he did drugs. She wouldn’t come home at times, scaring my parents especially since she had the baby. Her more than questionable behavior worried me because one day she planned to move to New York to live with me. That day never came. Partly due to myself postponing it. Selfishly, I was happy with my living situation and I didn’t want to babysit my sister and newborn nephew. That day also never came because Christina never came home on September 26th or September 27th or ever again.
Andy (Joseph) picked her up from work because he wanted to “talk”. My parents had told me Christina broke things off with him, hence the “talk”. He attacked her that night. He raped her. Christina had defensive wounds up and down her arms meaning she fought him but failed. Her throat was slashed, twice. She was left in a cold abandoned field to die – alone.
No one wants to say this but we (my family) knows that means she laid in a field dying for at least 24 hours because the coroner said the death was September 28th. The date of her death was something which haunted me for a long time and is still something my mind struggles with, something my heart is unable to process or carry. She laid alone all that time…blood pouring out of her body, cold, in pain and alone…
A person’s mind and heart were not meant to bear such thoughts. It destroys you from within and I believe the thought alone must slowly kill the person bearing it. I had to believe something else if I were to survive, so I believed her soul went to be with God on September 27th at 3:07 am – the same time I saw on the clock when I cried myself to sleep and had the feeling.
However, though I wanted to believe this, it was difficult. Perhaps the feeling wasn’t her leaving this Earth to be with our Lord and Savior, maybe it was my sister telling me to call for help and… I didn’t.
I know… like my three day therapist said, “could you of really done anything.” No question mark at the end of her statement. The three day therapist knew the answer, I couldn’t do anything, that was the point of her saying it – I knew the game she was trying to play on my mind. But if this was supposed to make me feel better – it didn’t, nor did it change my mind on maybe I could.
Or maybe the three day therapist was right. I couldn’t do anything with that feeling at the moment. It was 2003, not everyone had cell phones. I think I had my first cell phone and my sister didn’t have one. I couldn’t track her down, I don’t even think tracking existed. No one knew she was even missing yet. My parents were watching the baby that night while she worked but they didn’t notice she didn’t come home till the following morning. My mom became concerned when Andy called them “looking” for Christina.
How dare he try to cover up his cowardly act by calling my mom. A murderer talking to the woman who bore Christina, all the while knowing what he had done to her little girl. He told my mom they had a fight and she left. My mom felt something was wrong then and my parents filed a missing persons report.
“Could you of really done anything.” Yes, I know you are not really asking but I could have.
I could have called the morning of September 27th and told my parents I had a feeling and how I cried for my sister for no reason. Then they would of told me she never came home from work and her ex-boyfriend wanted to talk to her.
“Could you of really done anything.” THEN I would tell my parents to call the cops and to report a possible murder OR to launch a search party OR something!
“Could you of really done anything.” THEN the cops would of questioned Andy, maybe they would asked to search his car which held the weapon and her blood.
“Could you of really done anything.” THEN he would of told them where to find my sister. THEN they would of found her maybe still ALIVE because it was September 27th!
Not September 28th… yet.
Oh God, maybe I could of done something. Was she already gone on September 27th at 3:07 am? did the coroner have her date of death wrong? Would it of been too late anyway? GOD WHERE WERE YOU? I thought the feeling at 3:07 am meant you were there and you took her, were you there?
“Could you of really done anything.” Maybe. Maybe if God is powerful enough to send this feeling my way, across state lines, then He is powerful enough to tell me more. Like what happened to Christina, where she was… maybe if I let myself feel this feeling a little more then I would of known. Don’t think that is crazy, or not possible – you didn’t have the feeling.
The answer to the question that no one, including my three day therapist, asks truly as a question is – I didn’t do anything. I had a bridal shower the next morning and I was hosting. It consisted of people I didn’t even really like, except the bride. So I pushed the feeling aside for these people I didn’t like. Typical, Priscilla move. The night of September 27th, I don’t remember what I did for some reason- but whatever it was- I regret it. I’m sure it is why my current self is not very open to those types of acquaintances (people you don’t really like acquaintances) because perhaps unconsciously (or I guess consciously since I’m saying it out loud) I’m doing my best to avoid making the same mistake or having the same regret ever again.
I regret wasted time. Why didn’t my parents call and tell me she was missing- maybe I could of helped. I’ve never asked them why they didn’t call me. It’s not like there is really time or the emotional ability to ask questions about Christina’s death. Plus why ask question that could make your surviving loved ones feel more pain, we all have felt enough.
It is funny because when I first sat down with my three day therapist she asked about feelings I may have – such as “do you feel guilt about your sister’s death?”, I answered “no”, rather immediately, but after writing this, guilt is exactly what I felt.
I live with guilt every so often still but God has shown me not to carry it.
He did so by giving me the feeling on September 27 2003 at 3:07 am and he showed me again when my baby brother was born 10 years later on September 27 at 3:07 am. His birthdate and time of birth were ONLY a time I knew and as I learned about his birth, I fell to my knees and cried…. the same heartbroken cry I had cried 10 years before. As I cried, I could hear loud and clear: Christina wasn’t alone regardless if I could do something. She wasn’t alone. She wasn’t cold. She wasn’t in pain while she laid there. She wasn’t alone, cold, or in pain because the Lord our God was with her.
To the reader: the below is written in real time.
If you are suffering because you feel your loved one died alone. I pray God gives you the same hope He gave me. I am confident, if you are reading this then it is not a coincidence.