It’s been tough since Thanksgiving. Tougher than I was expecting. Lots of tears out of nowhere. Lots of hoping that I will wake from this dream. It can’t be real. Thanksgiving marks the third year since we were together as a family. After Thanksgiving weekend 2014, we FaceTimed with Teagan often, but we were just a couple of weeks away from being together again when she was murdered. This past couple of weeks have brought back some new memories of the hours and days that followed December 10, 2014. It has become obvious that I’m not the only one of us feeling this way.
One of the memories that has been coming back recently is the Ottawa Police Officer who had the terrible duty of knocking on our door that night to deliver the unbearable news. I remember him introducing himself. “I’m Constable Wahn..W-a-h-n. Wahn”. I broke down, time stopped. I asked him if he was sure. Maybe there had been a mistake. He checked his notes. There was no mistake. He stayed a while, I’m not sure how long. It might have been 10 minutes, it could have been an hour. He talked to us. We told him about Teagan. We showed him the recent picture of the three kids that was hanging on our wall. He asked about the boys. He was worried about Stewart, but he said Jack was too young to understand – “He’ll be ok”.
We just never bought into the idea that Jack was too young and so he’d be spared from what the rest of us would have to get through over the coming years – over our lifetimes. Gabe and I knew that we were all too close and Jack and Teagan had such a bond that we couldn’t foresee a time in the future where Jack just wouldn’t be bothered by her death. We were right. Jack has reminded us many times over that he is always thinking of Teagan, that her death is something that he doesn’t understand, not because of his age, but because none of us will ever understand it, and that Teagan remains his sister and holds a very large part of his life and his heart. I want to tell you about the good and the not so good parts of this. I want to share this to provide some insight into the loss of innocence that our boys have experienced because of Teagan’s murder. I want to share this so that everyone knows that Teagan lives on in our family, and always will.
For Teagan’s 5th or 6th birthday, her Auntie Ali gave her a REALLY big teddy bear. This is the kind of bear that makes you think of childhood happiness. It was so big that it took up half a double bed. She loved it. After a while, this big teddy bear developed a rip in his seam, right in the middle of his chest. I said that I would fix it. I really meant to fix it. But, I never did. I was always too “busy” to fix the bear. She played with it anyway, and I guess I just didn’t see the urgency. I really wish I would have sewn up that bear as soon as she asked. I really wish I had just done that. But, I didn’t. After Teagan died, her toys and clothes have moved around our house a lot. We all take items and store them away in places where we want them to be, places where we hold them for ourselves. The boys play with her toys. When Teagan’s cousins come over, they play with her toys. Jack has really been into Teagan’s things lately. He’s been wearing her jewellery to bed and he’s adopted that big teddy bear, which he calls “Big Teddy”. Jack started to really get on my case about fixing Big Teddy’s chest. Finally, on Thanksgiving Monday, I found the sewing kit and Jack wasn’t going to let me do anything else but sew up that bear. He prepped Big Teddy. Jack told me that Big Teddy was really excited about this day. Then I sewed him up. It took no more than 10 minutes. Really, why didn’t I just fix that bear? Jack was thrilled. Later that night. I was laying in bed with him singing him a song and when it ended he told me, “This was the best day of Big Teddy’s life, Mom, because you sewed him up.” Jack finally got Teagan’s bear fixed.
The awareness that a person chose to take his sister’s life is not lost on Jack. He talks about it frequently. But, yesterday, he and I had an exchange that I won’t ever forget. It went like this:
Jack – “What did Lisa do to Teagan?”
Me – “We don’t know what she did buddy. The police haven’t told us yet. They will tell us at the trial.” (At this point, I should remind you that I’m talking to a 5-year-old boy. All of these words are in his vocabulary because we’ve been completely honest with the boys, not because we want him to know these words)
Jack – “We know that Lisa didn’t shoot her with a gun, because we saw Teagan and there was no blood. How could someone kill someone without there being blood?”
Me – “I have no idea buddy. But, someday, in about a year, we will know how Teagan died.”
Jack – “Why did Lisa do it. I mean, she wasn’t a murderer before that, she never murdered anyone else. Why would she ever murder Teagan, she was her daughter.”
Me – “I don’t know buddy, it just doesn’t make any sense.”
Jack – “But, like, she was a mother. How could she have killed her own daughter?”
Me – “I don’t know.”
Jack had been looking down and then he looked up at me and had tears in his eyes, but wasn’t crying and said, “I can’t understand why someone would just become a murderer and kill their own daughter.” In that moment, looking into his eyes, I could have been talking to a 90-year-old man.
Me – “I don’t understand it either buddy. The only thing I know is that she is an evil monster because she has to be to have done what she did.”
It seems he understands as much as we do. These are the things that our otherwise happy 5-year-old boy thinks about. He sleeps with water guns under his pillow and nerf guns under his bed, which he calls his “weapons” that he keeps close “in case a bad guy comes in when we are sleeping and I need to protect you”. Maybe your kids do that too because they are afraid of the dark. But, to our boys, the “bad guy” has a name. My kids should be worried about whether Santa thinks they’ve been good enough to get the latest Xbox game – not worried about whether “Lisa will die me too” (as Jack told us when he was three). This is the stuff that Lisa won’t be on trial for, but make no mistake, she sentenced all of us with a lifetime of wondering what our family would have been like if Teagan was still alive, who Teagan would have become, who we would have been if this tragedy never happened. She took their sister and she stole their childhood innocence.