She was last seen leaving her parents home on Wednesday evening, a couple streets from my parent's home in the same town...a small, beautiful and very safe area in NJ.
I remember her so well. Her smile is what comes to mind first, and she always had a gentle, good-hearted spirit that glowed from within. Sadly, I also recall that not everyone was always so kind to her, which always hurt my heart when I was little.
Now, I know many kids get picked on or made fun of growing up, and thank goodness nothing was ever as bad, during the time I was in school, for those I knew who were, at least not that I saw. Unlike how it seems to be for kids now, where bullying is concerned.
However, I clearly remember trying a little harder to be sure and be a friend to her, a smiling face and just kind whenever I saw her in the halls, on the playground, in class or at a friend's party. I can still see her smiling face during those years and remember little moments as though they were yesterday.
One of my best friends to this day was friends with her, too. Her parents still live next to hers, in the same home they did growing up, and the same house where she was last seen.
Due to recent, sad events in her personal life, and what I have heard via friends, in the news and the investigation, I believe she was in such a state of despair that she took off, wasn't in her clear mind or, tragically, may have taken her own life. Simply, to end the pain she was feeling inside.
I rarely write posts that aren't upbeat, but those of you who follow my blog know that, from time to time, I will write about things that have an impact on my life, and writing has always been an outlet and rather therapeutic for me.
I suppose it is times like this that make me wish I had still been present in her life today, years after our time in school together. That I could have been a smiling face and friend when perhaps she needed it most, and probably more than those times in school growing up.
I truly do hope she knows I still look back on our time together fondly, that she was a sweet friend to me, is loved, a good person, and that anyone who knew or knows her is lucky to have had her cross their path, even for just a moment.
My thoughts are with her, her family, children and friends.