There are only a few places that can take you back into a different time of your life like a school can.
As I was leaving I walked past rows and rows of grade six class photos hanging on the wall. I immediately looked for mine and for my sisters' pictures. I was in awe of how small we were; how dated the photos were. It seemed like so long ago, yet the memories were flooding back to me.
I examined the photos, looking for familiar faces and names, and I came across a girl I knew named Carla Caldwell. Carla was a girl who lived in the same housing complex as me. She and I weren't really friends, because she was a year older, but we went to school and brownies together and we played with the same kids around the neighbourhood.
Carla is someone I would have probably forgotten about, like so many of the people I grew up with, except, unlike the rest of those people, Carla's life (and sudden death) haunted (and perhaps still haunt) all of us who knew her.
In 1991 Carla and her little brother Jamie were murdered by their father in a botched murder suicide attempt during their weekend visit to his Sherbrook Street apartment. Their father, Carl, was a sick man, who stole his young children's lives for reasons I'm not sure anyone can explain. (He succeeded in killing himself in jail a year or two later.)
Finding Carla's picture at school brought back so many emotions and memories. I feel such sadness when I think about Carla and Jamie. I think about their mother, and the profound sense of loss she will carry for the rest of her life. I think about the two kids who never had the chance to grow up and experience life. I think about the kids who grew up with Carla and Jamie who will always be haunted with memories and what ifs.
I've tried to google her over the years, looking to review her case with a set of grown up eyes, to no avail. (I would like to rummage through old newspapers one day when I have time...) The only piece of Carla that I can find is on the walls of my old elementary school.
RIP Carla and Jamie.