Today we’re going up to spend the day in Toledo. She wants to see us (and we want to see her), but she has a chemistry test on Wednesday and says she doesn’t study when she comes home. So, we are hitting the road for Toledo. Ty talked to Kayla last night and they are supposed to Facetime this morning so Kayla can instruct her on the winter clothes to bring with us. It’s going to be 16º cooler in Toledo today than in West Chester- high of 76º for us 60º for them.
Around 10 o’clock Ty starts trying to reach Kayla. Kayla doesn’t answer Facetime. I text her. No answer. Maybe she’s decided to go to her one class this morning. Normally she wouldn’t because the lecture is recorded. Ty and I both have thoughts that something bad might have happened, but we push those aside. We pack some clothes we think she’ll want hop in the car and start scooting up the all-to-familiar 182 mile stretch of I-75 that connects our hearts to Toledo. As we drive, Ty keeps texting Kayla. Still no answer. Kayla’s roommate has left for the weekend or we’d call her. The last time we have heard from Kayla is about 10:30 last night. She sounded fine. She was looking forward to seeing us and made the appointment for a Facetime between 10 and 11 this morning. Why isn’t she answering?
My thoughts now start to turn dark. I picture how we found Shayna in bed. I wonder if Kayla might have overdosed on pills. I start to go through my checklist of what I should do. I could call campus security, but tell them what? She is an adult and has been “missing” for less than a few hours. I think about calling the front desk. Kayla would be so embarrassed if they came barging into her room. I start thinking about what I will do if I’ve lost Kayla. Going on without Shayna has been a monumental task. Without Kayla. Well, that’s it. I’m done. I think about planning Kayla’s funeral. Nope. I simply cannot do it. Ty, I find out later, is having the same thoughts about all the bad things that might have happened to Kayla. I keep driving. Might as well. No matter what has happened, we have to get to Toledo. That’s where her body is. An hour in the car turns into two. It’s been three hours since we started trying to reach her now. Ty’’s not saying anything about being worried and neither am I but our calls to Kayla are coming more often now as we try to will her to answer the phone. I start searching for less dire explanations as to why she hasn’t answered her phone for almost three hours. Maybe she dropped it in the toilet or lost it. But, surely she’d borrow someone’s phone and call us. Or would she? I think I’m wasting time if she’s incapacitated, but there’s no story I can tell that would get anyone to break into her room anyway. I feel helpless, hopeless, but I keep driving.
Finally, just before 1 o’clock as we are an hour outside of Toledo, Kayla sends Ty a short text. She doesn’t know what happened. She went to bed at a reasonable time, but her roommate’s visitor woke her up in the wee hours of the morning and she couldn’t get back to sleep. When she did go back to sleep she fell into a sleep so deep that she didn’t wake up until almost 1 in the afternoon and didn’t feel/hear her phone vibrating (she and Shayna have a terrible habit of always leaving their ringers on silence).
Ty and I both take our first deep breaths in hours. We continue up and enjoy the day with Kayla. In fact, as we are walking into her dorm, Ty finds a dime in the parking lot of her dorm. This is the third time we’ve been together out of town and found a dime- once specifically after I prayed to find a dime that day. We go shopping, go to the art museum, go out to dinner and have Cold Stone ice cream on a gift card that belonged to Shayna. The whole day we are telling Shayna stories and I’m sure all imagining what it would be like if Shayna were with us and knowing Shayna would not be happy we are using her Cold Stone gift card. We love and miss her SO much.
As we’re driving home, Ty tells me how she doesn’t like the fact that not knowing how Shayna died has made our world feel so much less safe. I tell her, we only had the illusion of safety before. The chances of anything happening to Kayla are no more or less than they were before. Shayna’s death doesn’t provide us protection from other tragedies nor does it mean that other tragedies are inevitable. What it does mean is that for the rest of our lives we will be on edge. Those thoughts of major tragedy will come to our minds whenever the slightest things goes wrong. PTSD sucks.