The following day was Sunday, September 28th. The day the police officer found my sister while on his routine patrol of the area- a day too late. I wonder, what made him look in the field that day but no one looked the day before? Do the Oregon police officers normally patrol this abandoned field? A violent crime does something to a person’s mind because as I ask about the officer, I question if he also hurt my sister. The thought is crazy, I know, but I wonder why mind so easily accuses anyone. For years after Christina passed, I thought more than 1 person murdered my sister. On my suspect list, I had many of her best friends, Andy supporters, or the person driving behind me, or down the aisle from me at the grocery store. It has been 16 years since my sister passed, and I’ve taken the person at the grocery store off my list- funny, but true, and incredibly paranoid, or traumatized, or maybe both.
Does everyone who experiences a violent crime feel this way. I am better now then I was. I’m no longer making multiple right turns to lose the person who is not following me. I’m nicer to my sister’s friends and even allow them to see my posts on Facebook. I don’t keep knives in my bathroom or strategically placed around the house. Instead, I have a few guns.
On September 28, 2003, I went to my friend Jay’s church. I cried again that morning, in church, while singing the song I’ll fly away. No one noticed and again I didn’t know why I was crying.
The lyrics said “I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away, when I die, hallelujah, by and by, I’ll fly away”
I remember now what I did the night before, on September 27th, after the bridal shower. I went to Jay’s home to watch a movie. We were good friends and he knew my family and my sister. I had talked to him in the past about my sister.
I remember I had said out loud maybe a few months before Christina passed, “I don’t think my sister would live much longer.” Yes, I said that statement out loud. I remember when I said it I wished I didn’t, as if I had spoken it into existence with some unknown godly power. I had said it because I thought at the time, her getting involved with this guy would lead to drugs and the drugs were going to kill her. I had recently visited Ohio and it was just a bad feeling which I spoke out loud.
During that trip to Ohio, my mom and I went out looking for Christina. We went to some crack looking house in Toledo and found Christina and the baby. That was the first time I saw Andy. He was standing at the top of a dark dingy staircase. Christina came downstairs, shocked to see me and looking a little embarrassed I was there. She ran upstairs to get the baby and gave him to us so we could take him home. I think if I wasn’t there she wouldn’t of given my mom the baby. It was clear my mom and sister were not getting along. I asked Christina to come home with us but at the same time I remember thinking it may be best for her to stay away from my mom so I could see my nephew in peace. I asked anyway and Christina said, “I can’t”. I didn’t push (again selfishly) but thought, I can’t why did she say I can’t? As we drove away, I looked back at her standing there. She didn’t look like someone who wanted to stay but yet she was making the choice to stay. She looked like a prisoner, Andy’s prisoner.
I’m not sure if I talked to Jay about my sister the night of the 27th. He was my best friend at the time so I feel I must of told him about crying for no apparent reason at 3 am and again at church… if I didn’t then I wish I did and if I did then I wish he would of told me to do something. Jay has never brought up the time I prophesized my sister’s death, perhaps because it would be like rubbing salt in a wound. We both knew that I knew and even said out loud she would die, not murdered, but die- yet I didn’t stop it from happening. I just spoke it and felt it. Sometimes I wonder how he stayed my friend after this, knowing I had a feeling she would die.
After church on September 27th, I went home. My roommates were planning a movie night, I think because Jess had new boyfriend she wanted us to meet him. I used to love watching movies with friends, I hate watching movies now. That night we were watching Gangs of New York. Jay came over to watch with us. There were probably 8 or more of us packed in our tiny living room. I remember, my roommate Jess began crying during a part of the movie and thinking “I could never cry like she was with so many people around.”
Then my dad called.
I answered right away, glad to hear from him since I wasn’t feeling too great. I walked out of the living room and down the hall to my room.
My Dad said, “Where are you, are you home?” I heard my mom screaming in the background… it wasn’t just a scream though, it was a wail from the deepest part of her body, a sound I will never forget.
“What happened, I’m home,” I said anxiously.
“Is someone with you?” my Dad’s voice cracks and my mom’s screams are starting to make my bedroom spin.
In the spinning room, I see my sister’s picture on my night stand and bend over to my knees so I can stop spinning.
“Everyone is home! Dad WHAT HAPPENED?” I begin to beg with God in my head.
“Your sister, something happened to your sister,” I hear my mom also begging with God saying repeatedly “my baby, oh God, my baby.”
I think of my Dad’s words and he said something happened, so that means she is hurt but alive, right? I ask out loud and my voice cracks, “What happened, will she be ok? What happened???”
“She’s gone, she’s gone,” my dad cries.
I drop to my knees asking “what do you mean gone” though I don’t need to ask because my mom’s screams tell me I will never see my sister on this Earth again. My dad only repeats, “she’s gone.”
I cry uncontrollably and loudly. My roommates come running in the room. I’m pushing my knees and head into the floor. This kind of crying was something I never experienced – it was as if my body couldn’t get low enough, as if it wanted to bury itself into the ground to stop the pain. I remember pounding my fists as if trying to open the ground to swallow me.
None of it worked.
My roommates are saying “Pris what happened??” trying to hold me but I can’t say the words out loud. I hold my knees and listen to my Dad, he keeps repeating “Who is with you?, who can I talk to?” I can’t answer him, I can’t breathe.
My Dad keeps asking and I manage to say Jay’s name. My Dad tells me to give him the phone. I look up and don’t see him. There’s so many people around me.
“No, no, no,” I keep howling to the world NO, it can’t take my sister, not my sister.
I remember I need to give the phone to Jay, so I try to stand up and can’t. I fall back down… I manage to say “I have to…” and crying doesn’t let me finish, again “I have to….”.
Maggie grabs my face and says, “Pris, what do you need, tell us what happened.”
I hold up the phone and say, “Jay.”
Someone takes the phone and runs with it.
Another roommate is trying to hold me but I can’t breathe with them holding me. There’s so many people in my room and no one knows why I am crying. I crawl on all fours to my bathroom to be alone. I can’t walk. My bathroom is only 3-4 feet away but the pain is so great I’m unable to make it without stopping.
I cry, “oh God, please God, no, no, no… “
I somehow make it to my bathroom and someone stuffs a towel under my head. I hear crying that is not mine and feel hands on me, voices praying for me, as I lay on the bathroom floor sobbing. I move uncontrollably on the floor, grabbing my knees, my heart, my head. My heart, oh God, my heart- it is going to fall out of my body, I feel it breaking. I’m trying so hard to hold it together by pushing on it but no matter how hard I push I feel it breaking, I can’t hold it together.
I hear Jay come back into the room and he instructs someone to pack my bags
and something about him needing to run home first.
Someone asks him, “what happened,” and I realize I don’t know. I look up to see Jay whispering so I can’t hear. I think, at the time, it doesn’t matter how she died because she is gone. I’m very wrong, it would matter.
Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am frail; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are in agony -Psalm 6:2
He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds. – Psalm 147:3
The Lord is near to the broken hearted. He saves the contrite in spirit. – Psalm 34:18