It’s been 303 days since I’ve seen my sister, Loretta Saunders, alive. 224 since she was murdered. 31 days since her 27th birthday. And 11 since I’ve given up booze.
The last time I saw my sister was on November 26th of last year. It was a cold morning and frost had coated Halifax the night before. I had a train to catch and was bound for British Columbia. My sister and her boyfriend, Rob, didn’t want me to leave but I felt I had to experience true independence. She hugged and kissed me goodbye while still asking me to stay. It was different than any of my other departures but I didn’t think that would be the last time I saw her.
224 days ago my sister had gone missing. It was unknown to me because the two accused had her cellphone and sent me a text simply saying “hey”, which was highly unusual. After my family and others realized no one had heard from her in a couple of days, besides suspect messages that were nothing if not misleading, we contacted the Halifax Regional police.
At this point, I was in Tofino, BC and despite the police asking family to stay put I jumped on a plane and rushed to Halifax. I vowed to bring her home. I needed to find my sister and give her an earful for terrifying me. I would never leave her again. I would always keep her safe, as she did for me since I was a kid. I would cook her dinner like I used to every night as she studied endlessly. I would get a job, pay rent, go to school and make her proud of my new found sense of responsibility.
I just wanted to hug her and know she was okay. I wanted to hear her call me a weirdo for freaking out and hopping on a plane when she had just been busy studying and her phone was cut off due to late bills.
These thoughts and many others flurried through my mind, amongst memories and trying to process what I was facing. She was -and still is- a defining character in my life’s story so that couldn’t just end.. could it?
I cried most of my way across the country. While purchasing plane tickets, in lineups for coffee, seated next to strangers on the plane, while smoking cigarettes and listening to our favourite songs on repeat.
I arrived in Halifax at 11 A.M. on the 18th of February not knowing what was ahead. I had honestly believed I would find her at home but found police guarding our door on the 10th floor of our apartment building instead..