Two years ago today was the worst phone call of my life. I remember that night like it was yesterday. It was April 9th 2008, around 6:30pm. I was at my apartment in Wilton with Josh, my boyfriend at the time. I was standing at my sink, rinsing off a pound of macaroni. I was making tuna mac salad. It was seasonably warm for April, and I always celebrate the start of the warm weather seasons by making tuna mac salad. It puts me in high spirits.
The phone call came from one of my sister’s best friends. She asked me if they had found her. She meant Angela, my sister. I told her that I didn’t think so, that I hadn’t heard anything. She told me she had a friend who was a neighbor where my sister had been living. He had just called her, telling her that there were police at her trailer, and he had seen them take something out from underneath it. She said “Oh my god I hope it isn’t Angela”.
My parents had reported Angela missing to the police the day before, April 8th 2008. We had been trying to get in touch with her for about a week prior to that day. My parents had received a voicemail from my sister’s husband’s mother, saying that Angela and Art had been evicted; that he was moving home and that Angela had left him, but hadn’t taken her things with her and my parents needed to come get it. We hadn’t heard from her about this. Neither had anyone else- no one that we knew, anyway. It hadn’t really been unusual for us not to hear from Angela for lengths at a time over the previous several years. She didn’t always have a cell phone, and when she did, she rarely had minutes to use it. She didn’t have a car most of the time.
But my parents were worried. We called around to the few numbers that we had for her friends, asking them to let us know if they saw or heard from her. I posted messages online to old friends I knew who were still around the Hudson area, asking if anyone had seen her, and to keep an eye out for her. I was a little nervous, but knowing Angela I honestly expected to end up finding out she had been hiding out on some random friend’s couch, without thinking to call any of us to fill us in. This wouldn’t have seemed unusual. We figured if that were the case, she would show up at her family court date on the 8th. She had been looking forward to that date. She had been reminding us of it for months. When she didn’t show up there, my parents expressed their concern to the judge, and their intention to file a missing person’s report. The judge, also concerned, ordered a follow up in case my parents failed to file.
I told Angela’s friend that I would call her back. I was slightly incredulous at that point. But unsure. My sister’s friends haven’t always been the reliable information type. They were more the gossip and blow-up-information-to-make-it-more-dramatic type. I called my parents. I hesitantly asked my mother when she answered if they had heard anything, because I got a call saying that the police had found something underneath her trailer. I’ll never forget the sound of my mother’s voice on the phone that night. She has always had an expressive voice. It shakes when she is scared. It cracks when she is upset. My mother took a shaky breath and said yes. That there were policeman at their house, and they were saying that they had found someone at the trailer, but they weren’t sure if it was Angela. She told me that they were still talking to them, and that she would call me back.
I started pacing. I paced a lot that night. My mother called me back not long after. She had her trying-to-keep-it-together voice on. A little shaky, with some cracking and more than the normal amount of breaths. A tone I have become very familiar with over the last two years. She told me that they were going up to the hospital to identify the body they found, and that she would call me afterward. She later called to tell me that it was in fact Angela.
I was in shock, I think. I paced. I repeated “oh my god” at least a few hundred times. I would get flushed, have to take my green hoodie off and go outside. And then I would get cold, put my hoodie back on, and go inside. And then I would get claustrophobic, and go back outside. Josh would hug me and I would feel confined. I would back out of it. I would pace some more.
I called my sister’s friend back. I called my best friend Katie, who lived in the next building. I had Josh leave for the night. I was going to go to my parents the minute I woke up. He didnt want to leave, but he did. Katie came over for awhile. We watched the story on the news.
My sister had been under that trailer for over a week. For over a week while we looked for her, while we wondered where she was, she was already dead. Beaten, half naked and rolled in a blanket, lying beneath a trailer in Claverack.
I hadnt talked to my sister in almost two months. Not since before her husband was released from jail in February. Before that, she and I had been talking fairly often. She was staying at my grandmother’s and had internet access, so we would speak through AIM or Mypace almost daily. I knew that when her husband was released, I wouldnt be hearing from her much. She was going to be renting a trailer in claverack, and she wouldnt have internet there.
This article, Police Find Woman’s Body is from two years ago, the day after they found her. At the end of it, it references her myspace page, and comments I’d left her that February and March, after she had gone off with her husband and stopped calling or speaking to us.
I left her two comments during that time. I am haunted by these comments. Especially the last one I left. I was mortified that they were referenced and even linked to from this article. To spare you the trouble of navigating a myspace page (does anyone even still use their myspace accounts anymore?) these were my comments:
Mana Feb 18 2008 9:59 PM
should have known you’d disappear as soon as the crack head got out of jail…
Mana Mar 4 2008 9:55 PM
hope you’re not dead in a ditch somewheres…
When I left that last comment, I had no idea of the context that would take later on. I was being facetious. Flippant. And it haunts me still, two years later. It will haunt me always.
Memories are funny things. The way they can feel like they were so long ago and yet at the same time feel as fresh as if they had just happened.
I never finished my tuna mac salad that night. At some point the pound of pasta went into a bowl and into the fridge, where it stayed during the next couple of weeks that I spent in Chatham with my parents. For the last week or more at this point, I have been talking about making some. Warm weather has come to Saratoga- and I have been excited, like always, to celebrate the start of the warm weather with the first batch of the season. But I have not had the time. As fate would have it, today I find myself with the time. I consider it. But I will not make it. Not today.