You know those moments of the blinding sun? When you are in your car, and the height of the sun is just so, that there is absolutely nothing you can do to shade your eyes from it? And you cannot see. No sunglasses, no visor, can make your visibility any better. You just slow down and hope for the best until those few seconds of complete sun blindness pass.

I think of Tara. Every single time. I think of her.

Tara was a beautiful friend. She had a radiant smile. A calming presence. The sweetest of hearts. And one evening, when the height of the sun was just so, she was taken from us. She wasn’t seen. And our community was thrown into a spiral of grief. She touched so many people, in the short time she was with us.

I was in grade 7 and at the park with a group of friends. That was our ritual. Meeting at Bready school, sitting on the monkey bars, just hanging out. And that night we were expecting Tara, but when she never arrived, we just assumed plans had changed.

I went home, got ready for bed, living my innocent life before I really understood death. And this is a moment etched in my memory. I will never forget the scene. It’s like I am looking down into our house on 18th Avenue, like a dollhouse, with the roof of the house in my hand. I remember how my bedroom was set up. And my mom coming into my room, her eyes red from crying. To tell me that Tara had died.

And being so young, at the time, I never really thought how Tara dying would have affected my mom. Because as children, we see our parents as resilient. It wasn’t until I read this poem that my mother wrote, for me to think about how the loss affected her, and how she felt as a mother, for Tara’s parents. And how as a mother, she had to tell her daughter that her friend had died.

Tara, I think of you often. Especially when the sun is shining it’s brightest.