26 (Part 1)

When I landed in Halifax, instead of being greeted by my sister’s beaming smile, there were reporters asking me questions. I got a ride from my friend who dropped me off at the Dartmouth bus terminal where I picked up a copy of Metro News. It had a photo of my sister in the one shouldered, fuchsia dress draped in tulle and lace that was soft to the touch. We used to share all of our clothes and loved getting dressed up. Then I read the words paired with the photo. These were the only details anyone knew concerning her whereabouts. I felt warm tears sting my chapped cheeks as I made the pilgrimage to the Halifax Regional Police HQ. Two days of crying and wiping the tears away had irritated the same face that had been smiling just days before. A genuine smile or laugh wouldn’t emanate from my shell of a body for a while. I have to mention that wasn’t one to cry prior to this. I just did not cry. I held it in or shook it off. I was an expert at blocking out pain. This experience has forced me to get in touch with my emotions. It was definitely a lesson that I’m still feeling my way through but I’ve learned to be patient with myself and appreciate the progress I’ve made.

I haven’t gone through this entirely graceful. I was a mess, actually. I couldn’t sleep or eat unless I threw back a few drinks for the days that came after the 18th. Even then, these luxuries I took for granted prior to my sister’s disappearance were sparse. The events that would unfold before my eyes seemed like a cruel, paralytic nightmare that was beyond the level of chaotic and frightening. Luckily, I had the cream of the crop when it comes to supportive and loving friends.

Amy Elson and her family lived two doors down from us in Happy Valley. We consider her more family than friend. Thanks to the deep connection and love we share with one another and Loretta, we held each other’s heads above water. We cried, laughed, screamed, worried, shared, and reminisced. With her by my side, we felt as if Loretta was laughing with us.

Jessica Coffey, my beautiful and incredible cousin, guided me spiritually. She gifted me with energy crystals and told me how they worked.  Two pieces of rose quartz that represent Loretta and myself catalyzes love, peace and serenity. Rose quartz also releases and heals trauma, guilt, fear, anxiety and heartache. The wisdom lent by the rose quartz is “You are loved. Everything will be all right.” A piece of turquoise is a master healing stone that also protects. The amazonite stone is considered a “Stone of Hope” that promotes clear and honest communication. Jess provided me with the family love, the raunchy and silly laughs, and strength I needed. Looking back, our conversations that consisted of wisdom, epiphanies, and insight, were the beginning of my own personal and spiritual growth.  I’m more than grateful to have bonded with her through the most devastating event in my life.

Kyle Ervin, my now boyfriend, rushed to aide us in our search. He drove us around as we plastered the city in missing posters, to news conferences, and anywhere my family and I needed to go. Most importantly, he held my hand and didn’t leave my side. Dried my tears and held me close as I cried in his arms between the one hour intervals of sleep I could get. I fell in love with how gently he handled my heart. He brings me to a place of peace when we gaze into each other’s eyes. He’s the first man I’ve experienced a visceral foreseeing of a future with.

Sabrina Berry, I still love her to this day for being the friend she has been to me but I’ll save this story for it’s own entry.

We called ourselves the Fab Five from then on. We will always have a very deep connection with one another after having been through this together.

In the wee hours of the morning, as Kyle slept on the floor, I would begin my morning by staring out the 20th floor window that looked over Halifax. I could see the apartment on Cowie Hill. I’d watch the sun rise, cry, listen and sing along with Inuit throat singers on YouTube. I drew a lot of strength thinking about my ancestors, my family, and my older sister as I did this. I would talk to her as I was in a trance-like state gazing upon the beauty of the winter sunrise. I told her to be okay until I found her and that I hope she wasn’t too cold. I hoped to God she wasn’t too hot, which brought a sentimental smile to my face. If there was anything that would bring out the fire in her, it was being too hot. Living on the 10th floor, with no air conditioning, and the humid, viscous Halifax summer weather couldn’t be considered pleasant by anyone, especially Lorett.

For nearly two weeks, I began and ended my days like this in the window, hoping to see her. I spent a lot of time talking to press, plastering posters and trying to hold it together until the day we found she would be coming home..

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About Homicide Survivor

The issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women has encompassed my life after the murder of my sister, Loretta Saunders, in February 2014. Loretta was studying the issue of #MMIWG for her thesis topic at the time of her death. To take a proactive approach to my own healing, I have since taken on the titles of author, advocate, and activist to carry my sister’s legacy forward and raise awareness. I can be reached VIA e-mail at delilah.saunders@hotmail.com
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