I sat in the corner against the sliding glass doors that led to the community balcony for a while before asking my friend to look down the hall. She said there was a police officer sitting outside of the door. I took a few minutes to gather myself and headed towards the doorway that led to the corridor. The hallway smelled of paint and the first door on the left was wide open. The apartment was a bachelor and completely empty. I assume the neighbours had moved out and it had been painted. It was a strange sight but I approached the officer and asked if I would be allowed in. She asked who I was and I told her I was Loretta’s sister and that this was our apartment. The tone of her voice and look on her face changed then she said she would make a call. Phoning the detective who had interviewed me earlier she asked if anyone was going to come talk to me. I hugged my then best friend who spent a lot of time with Loretta and I. We waited but knew the news couldn’t be positive but the officer ended the call and asked us to leave. I received a call from the detective moments later to stay away from the apartment. Things were not adding up in the slightest, everything was extremely out of place.
Loretta gave me stacks of articles to read about these types of situations. We would discuss cases of missing persons, the manipulative side of human trafficking, and all of life’s grim realities. It wasn’t until I was in Ontario that these readings would pique a sense of paranoia since I could then identify with the victims. I was broke, drinking excessively, and feeling extremely vulnerable. My family spent their time and energy worrying about me with no inkling of the harm that would be forced onto my sister. During frightened phone calls with Loretta, she even comforted me by telling me our level of awareness meant we were in the clear. Despite our enlightenment and confidence, I knew the likelihood of her returning home safe wasn’t good. I couldn’t express this because I had to keep the hope alive.
As time progressed, holding onto hope seemed to make things more surreal. Ebbs and flows of insanity and the inability to comprehend the situation brought about different theories on where she could be. During the day, family and friends would conjure up scenarios in which she was okay. She was just hiding out for a while due to stress of the hormones during pregnancy and her thesis and she’d return soon. Today was always the day we would find her. One I often pondered and invested in was that she was making a grand point to dramatize her thesis topic. By nightfall, our imaginations and positivity had burned out. Our minds would more often than not reel in scenarios of an ugly nature. Being kept out of the loop by law enforcement didn’t help and they made it into many theories. I couldn’t trust anyone, everyone was a suspect at this point.
But I had to keep the hope alive and quite frankly, I couldn’t imagine life without her. I still reflect on my days and find a place for her in my day to day life. I imagine how much she’d enjoy a day of shopping, walking around the neighbourhood on a sunny day with an ice cap with a shot of espresso and half cream. I think about how her baby would have been born this month and what features he or she would share with my sister. I think about how amazing she would be as a mother since I experienced first hand her ability to nurture and love. I want her to be here so my children can call her Auntie Rett, and so they can bask in her unconditional love.
I often want to call her or head to her room to talk about relationships, dreams, and especially to share advice with one another. I miss how she believed in me and saw things I couldn’t see. She also loved how I genuinely returned these sentiments. One of the last conversations we had, she was in tears. She had sent her thesis proposal to Dr. Darryl Leroux and he had provided her with the feedback that she worked so hard for. He compared her work to that of a PhD student and praised her abilities and insight. She forwarded the thesis proposal to me and his e-mail and I cried tears of joy with her. I had never been so proud of anyone in my life and that’s one thing I’ll always profess. I’m proud to have known, loved and been loved by my amazing sister.
Loretta, decorating the church for our brother James’ wedding.