Our families have been friends since you moved here when Lauren and I were in first grade. I have memories of the two of us writing stories, playing in my back yard during play dates, and years of hebrew school and yom kippurs together at my house. While it had been awhile since Lauren and I hung out when she went missing, it struck me in a way that was unlike anything else. Suddenly, there wasn't enough we could do for our long-time friends. Not enough mail to take in, not enough texts to send, not enough offers to go to the store, would possibly make the pain you still feel ease.
Coming up on a year later, I still have dreams about Lauren. I'll wake up and feel scared and confused that Lauren, a missing childhood friend, was showing up in my dreams. While it doesn't happen often, it's no less chilling and confusing each time.
After talking to my parents, two of your closest friends, I realized the reason Lauren was in my dreams is because still today, Lauren is everywhere. She's been missing for almost two years, but her memory is everywhere. She is still in pictures, in magazines, in tweets, Instagrams, Facebook posts, she's also on the "MISSING" tag that hangs off of the black North Face backpack I used for class since my return to school the fall following her disappearance. I think about her every time a friend says he or she wants to go home. My response now is always, "we'll both/all go." I think about her every time I considered walking home from campus because "it's only a five minute walk." Lauren has taught me and everyone else I love, that you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting the people who mean the most.
It feels strange to write you like this, you've known me since Lauren and I were chubby cheeked and missing teeth, and now I'm teaching full time, and about to graduate. I guess in my reflective state as a senior, I am once again remembering how life could be so different depending on the little choices you make everyday. I hope one day soon, the people responsible for Lauren's disappearance make the right choice to come forward. The choice to help should have been the obvious, small choice, that would lead to answers. Hoping today is the day.