I attended grade school; middle school and high school like most people do with many of the same people present year after year. You get to know the people you attend with, some by faces, some by name and some you have friendships and more long standing relationships. There are some people that affect you more than others, some you remember and some you don't.
Through out all of my school years there was a girl I went to school with named Julie (I have changed even her first name so as not to upset any family of hers or hamper any investigations).
Julie was an average person. She tried very hard to be liked, strong, confident and to excel in school. For some reason though, many of these things never quite melded for Julie. I always thought there was an extreme sadness to her, in her eyes and just in her being. Whenever we talked (and usually this was in a group type setting) she never wanted to talk about personal issues such as her home life, her parents, siblings etc. Whenever the topic of conversation came around to her, she would always answer question very vaguely and change the subject.
In high school Julie developed a severe acne problem. This did not do much for her popularity; kids can be so terribly cruel. Just from the smallest amount of information she would talk about regarding her home life, I understood her family to live on very limited means. Her parents finally were able to take her to a doctor for her acne condition, the medication that she was given made things worse, it made the skin appear dark red.
In my junior year close to the end of the year, I asked her to sign my annual. She did. I told her that we would have one more year together so that would be good. She said then that she wasn't coming back for her senior year. I asked why. She said she never really fit in and it wasn't like she was a scholar or anything so she might as well get a job. She then said that maybe that wouldn't have to be all her life was going to be though because maybe she would meet her prince charming and he and she would have a wonderful life together. I told her I was sad that she wouldn't be coming back, but to keep in touch. I gave her my phone number.
That was the last time I saw Julie until about 10 months ago or so. For some reason I woke up one morning thinking about Julie. It seemed every where I went I saw her, I even stopped a few times to talk to her only to find it was not her, it was in fact a stranger or to find she had disappeared into a crowd. I remember thinking and praying that all had worked out for her the way she had hoped. I remember mentioning it to my husband. He said I must have seen someone on television or something that reminded me of her. Okay...
About one week after I began thinking about Julie, I started thinking how sad she is (not was, is) and how I wished I could help. I couldn't quite figure out how. I checked all phone listings, even the net and could not find a listing for her. All the people I know that knew her as well had long since lost contact with her.
About a week and a half after Julie had began to occupy my thoughts and dreams, a couple of days after I felt her sadness, I was reading on the sofa next to my husband while he watched the idiot box. The evening news came on. All of the sudden I heard her name - at the very beginning of the news cast. I am pretty sure most city local news is the same, the most intriguing and important stories highlighted with a blurb first then the news.
I had not heard what they said and my husband said he wasn't paying close enough attention to be accurate. We continued to watch. About 15 minutes into the news cast they flash to this abandoned furniture store/Laundromat that had been deserted and boarded up on a street I recognized very well. The cameras of the news team where there live, there where red and blue lights glowing from police and emergency vehicles spotlighting a ring around the building of yellow crime scene tape. Julie had been found by a perspective property management firm in the basement of this building. She had been wrapped crudely; I guess I could say stuffed from how it was explained into to ancient musty filthy rugs. She was half clothed, beaten, victimized sexually and finally strangled to death with a piece of telephone cord. The cord was tied in a bow around her neck.
I threw my book down and cried and cried. My husband tried to provide comfort. I felt such a tremendous sadness. It was if I was crying not only my tears but her tears also. I must have cried myself to sleep that night, I don't remember falling to sleep, but as I awoke to morning, I realized my husband had helped me to bed.
They buried Julie about 15 days later after a full autopsy. It was a county funeral as most of her family would not come forward. I attended the grave side ceremony. Only two of the people we had attended school with aside from me were there. That fact combined with absent family and loved ones brought on the crying again, crying and sadness that I didn't feel I could control. My husband then thought I should see a doctor, maybe if was an overly emotional female thing. Right.
Almost one month to the day I began thinking about Julie, as I had later confirmed with my journal, I awoke very early one morning and couldn't go back to sleep at all. I got up, went to my main floor and got a glass of tea and turned on the idiot box. I then heard the wind outside pick up suddenly. This is not uncommon in Nebraska. I got up to make sure the screen door was securely latched (we have lost a few doors that way). I went onto the front porch to check. I looked up and saw Julie standing out side my door. I just stared at her. She was wearing her favorite jeans. Her favorite sweat shirt, her hair in her favorite style, carrying her favorite pink striped purse, there was no acne visible at all and the sadness was gone from her face and her eyes. Julie simply looked at me and said, "Well, it didn't happen the way I wanted, but I found peace and harmony the hard way. I hurt for a long time, but not any more. I didn't find my prince charming, as you saw on the news; he killed me and turned it into a joke also, like many people thought my life was, a joke. I am okay now and it is peaceful here, no one will ever hurt me again. Let's stop crying and thanks for being there..." As I opened my mouth to speak she was gone. No flashes, no noises, no wind, just gone.
I was so glad she let me know she was finally okay. I will treasure this memory always.