Just down the street from where we live is this pretty little treed part of the Old Rec Center/Gyro Ball Park, it’s where I walk my dogs around quite often. Many of the tree’s and mushrooms I’ve photographed are from this part of the park. There are a couple pic-nick tables and garbage cans, a nice shady area along the edge and beyond the tree’s is known as ” The Ravine”. The edges of the Ravine are very steep, covered with fallen tree’s, weeds, ferns and rocks and lots of animal trails ( racoon,rats & bears and the odd cougar ) at the bottom of the Ravine is a little creek that runs 3/4 of the year. This part of the Park has a deep dark secret which has changed the dynamics of this ball park, as no children play ball here any more.
As you cross the street from the ball field and enter this shady picnic area you can’t help but notice a large marble remembrance stone that sits atop a marble ball diamond, first, second, third, and home plate all perfectly placed in marble. The inscription on the large upright stone says….
1984 – 1996
You’ll Forever be Playing Your Favorite Game From the Out Field
I stop and say hello to Jessica every time we pass, this memorial always has Teddy Bears, dolls and flowers no matter what time of year. This day when I went by she had a fresh bouquet of flowers with a small Canadian flag in a vase because it was the Canada Day Long Weekend the day before. It was windy and it must of blown the vase over so I bent down to fix the arrangement, out of the corner of my eye I saw my dog Buggz sniffing all the stuffed animals but never touching one, which is so unlike him because he will drag home discarded toys and stuffies at the drop of a hat ( and those too!) I think dogs are smarter then we give them credit for.
There was something about that day at her memorial, when I stood up to gain my balance, I reached out and put my hand on the upright stone to steady myself, I all of the sudden I started crying and couldn’t stop………..Maybe I should tell you what happened to Jessica that hot summer weekend at a Softball Tournament maybe you’ll understand.
Jessica was a happy 12 yr.old girl that loved Softball, either playing it or just hanging around the field and the crowds, she would be running here and there picking up pop-cans and bottles and returning them for sweets or chasing foul balls because she usually got a reward for returning them, this time I believe she was collecting money for 50/50 draws. She disappeared into thin air! No One could find her, it was unlike her not to stay in the vicinity and not check in with her parents . She was Gone…It didn’t take long before a search team was gathered up along with the RCMP to do a thorough search of the area.
Now, I remember hearing all this stuff on TV that weekend of her disappearance at my previous home town, it was a story that just stuck in my head after all these years, I had no idea the place we chose to live was less then 3 blocks from where Jessica was found.
She was found not too long after she vanished, she had been raped and beaten to death ( with a rock I think ) and just left in the Ravine to be eaten by animals. It didn’t take them long to find the murderer, a mentally challenged man in his early 20’s that lived with his parents in the neighborhood . I believe they picked up and moved out of town ( as fast as they could for their own safety). The whole town was up in a panic as nothing as gruesome or just so sad had ever happened here.
I cried for Jessica that day because I also at the age of 7 or 8 had been lured away from my safety zone into a large stand of tree’s attacked and sexually assaulted by an older man, the only difference is I walked away from it and she didn’t. I cry for Jessica because I feel guilty I survived and she didn’t. The way she was brutally murdered just rattles my soul. I believe I have what’s called survivors guilt-Guilt is one of my worst enemies from many, many situations through out my life ( my therapist knows all about this ) and writing about it will hopefully help.
I talk to Jessica every time I walk by, straighten her flowers and stuffies, I have noticed someone put a lovely dog statue beside her memorial to stand guard and watch over her, a perfect friend where no children play any more.