Eight years ago, I got home from school to a call that I never anticipated. I was fourteen years old and I was deeply involved in One Direction fan Twitter. Two of my closest friends at the time were two girls named Kat and Destiny, and we communicated regularly over Instagram, Twitter, and via text. Destiny had expressed to me and Kat before that her mother was in a somewhat abusive relationship with her stepfather, but that she was safe and was still able to enjoy the things that made her happy.
The day was March 24, 2013. I had just gotten off the bus and was about to go upstairs to get ready for my dance class later that evening. I wasn’t allowed to take my phone to school with me at the time, so my first stop when I got home was to unplug my phone and see if I had missed anything that day. I received a text message from Kat telling me to call her, and that it was about Destiny. I don’t remember much from this phone call, but I remember my knees buckling in the upstairs bathroom of my parents’ house, unable to grasp what had happened. One of Destiny’s friends had been talking with Kat for some time, and they had struck up a friendship. This friend had reached out and told Kat that Destiny and her mother had been shot and killed by her stepfather.
Because I wasn’t allowed to have social media at the time, I remember the panic of having to swallow this news and try to go on. This piece is the first time that my parents will know about this event in my life, and I regret not being able to tell them sooner. Going to dance class that night was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, to try and act like nothing was wrong. I’ve still had to act like nothing's wrong for the past eight years.How do you explain that the death of someone you never met in person had such a crushing, profound effect on your life?
Some days, it still hits me and it crushes me. Destiny was thirteen years old at the time of her death, and the three of us had made so many plans for when we were old enough to meet. Sometimes, I wonder what she would be like now. Would she still have the same sparkle in her eyes that came when she talked about Niall Horan, basketball, or her friends at home? What would she have studied in college? She was strong, even after the loss of her father to cancer three years before. She was devout in her faith, and went to church every Sunday and loved it. We were different, but in so many ways we were the same.
The fact that I will never know the answer to these questions is something I struggle with every single day. Thankfully, I’ve stayed in touch with Kat over the years, and we still talk about her. I even dream of Destiny sometimes, and wake up wondering if she’s still here. I read her obituary sometimes, and I’ve had the local news article about her bookmarked since high school. An MSNBC article came out about her two months after her death, and the photo of her featured in the article still hits me so hard. She was taken from me too soon, and I miss her every day.