My daughter’s friend and classmate was reported missing last Sunday. After receiving text messages and calls by friends, my daughter rushed home frantically to gather her search and rescue gear to join others in looking for Alicia. “What do you mean she’s missing?!”… my original reaction was disbelief of the probability of someone like Alicia missing. At age 16 these girls and their classmates had backpacked and hiked on two week long trips to the highest points on the Sierras, the sub zero camp sites and rock climbed the lowest deserts by the Joshua Trees… How could she be lost in the tame nature of Tennessee Valley?!
I tried to celebrate Norooz with friends, chatting over tea and Norooz cookies, enjoying the wonderful company of all, while having my daughter’s search for Alicia in my mental background. I finally heard her pained tearful voice, “Alicia’s dead Mom… she fell off the cliff and into the Tennessee Cove”.. I lost my balance in my friend’s kitchen as I listened to my daughter’s tears. This was hours after Alicia’s body was found in the ocean about 2 miles away from her camp site. My daughter did not want my New Year celebration interrupted. At that point she and others had gathered for couple of hours in school trying to connect to their loss of Alicia.
Yesterday morning she walked out of the shower with tears down her face, “I can’t make sense of this Mom… I feel so confused”. All I had to offer was my hug and reassurance that “we can’t make sense of this tragedy, even at my age…” we cried together tightly holding on to each other, feeling the burning sensation of our tears, or not.
I look at our rug filled by Alicia’s photos. I don’t know how many times I have reviewed their memories in these photos since last night when my daughter was asked to do a collage for Alicia’s memorial. The bright beautiful glow in Alicia’s eyes, the radiance of her laughter, her enjoyment of Persian food at our house, her humble smiles during their post-trip slide shows where I saw her photographs of the intense mountain peaks and water holes…
“… Mom, Nothing matters”…. “Everything matters, because may be the last time we experience them….we can only accept the reality of loss, we can’t control it”. At age 17, Alicia fell into the Tennessee Cove.
I cannot stop my mental ruminations of how long until Alicia’s last breath? What was going on her mind? How did she fall off that cliff?! Why her?! Why Now?!…
My tears are also for Cathie and John and Alicia’s 12 year old sister.