Rosemarie “Kim” Junor was born on Apr 2, 1987. She died in December 2015.
I have so many photos of us under my bed, stored away in a black wooden box.
“If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends, make it last forever—friendship never ends!” We sang from the top of our lungs, an hour just before the athletic banquet. “I still don’t know what top to wear,” I said, rummaging through your bedroom closet. Wet n Wild lipsticks, Bonne Bell eyeshadows and a bottle of Calgon’s Lily of the Valley body mist were scattered on your bed. We’d been trying on clothes for hours. “How about this?” You asked, after pulling out a brown tube top from the bottom of your drawers. I tried it on—it looked perfect with my frayed denim skirt, a piece we cut up together one Sunday afternoon.
My heart sank when I got the news. Four years ago, you were on your lunch break in Toronto’s underground PATH when a complete stranger stabbed you in the heart. I had just walked in my house when a Facebook message from a mutual friend appeared on my phone. “Kim is in the hospital. She’s been stabbed,” she wrote. My dog, Nero, still had his leash on, and my scarf was wrapped around my neck. Instantly, I felt choked.
I rushed to St Michael’s hospital with my mom—the same hospital where I would give birth to my daughter Maia, a year and a half later. I waited for hours to see you that night, holding onto a pot of lilies and a “get well” note in the visitor’s area. Wheel of Fortune was playing on the television screen in the back.
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“Can you give these to her?” I asked one of your cousins later that evening. I handed her the lilies. It was almost midnight. When I got home, a photo of a sea turtle walking into the ocean appeared on my social media feed. It was posted by one of your friends on a private Facebook group. “R.I.P. Kim” the caption read. Just like that—you were gone. There was a full moon out that night. It snowed.
Sometimes I wish I could rewind time.
Remember when we’d ride our bikes in Taylor-Massey Creek, a long creekside park with ravines and hiking trails in Scarborough, Ont. The hot July sun would warm our dark–skinned faces, brown hair and blonde highlights. We stayed cool by splitting a spicy Jamaican beef patty and a blueberry slushie that we bought in a nearby plaza.“Brain freeze, brain freeze!” We’d scream. We laughed out loud underneath one of the weeping willow trees with our mouths wide open, blue tongues sticking out.
Or how about when I came over after school and your mom taught us how to make roti when we were supposed to be learning our long division? On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we sang our favourite Jennifer Lopez, Aaliyah and TLC songs in the backseat of your brother’s car on our way to soccer practice…Do you remember?
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I’ll never forget the time when we were 17, and we drank too much Smirnoff Ice on a boat cruise around Lake Ontario. We stuffed our faces with cucumber–and–cream–cheese pinwheel sandwiches that night.
I still have all of our photos from our first Communion, Confirmation, semi-formal and prom. I’ve even kept all your school photos and photo booth pictures with the handwritten notes scribbled on the back of each one.
I regret that we drifted apart during university after spending 10 inseparable years together. I wish you came to visit me at Queen’s in Kingston. I should’ve called more, too. I graduated, went to teachers college, then Tanzania, moving to the Dominican Republic shortly after to teach and travel. I looked forward to your texts every year, happy to see your name pop up on my phone every New Year’s Eve to wish me happy birthday. I did the same, every time April rolled around. We tried to make plans to meet…What happened?
The last time we saw each other was at a Christmas potluck with some of our close friends from elementary school. In the photo we took, you’re wearing a purple sweater and a black beanie. You have your hands on your cheeks with your mouth wide open like Kevin’s face in Home Alone. I’m standing next to you with my lips sucked in making a fish face. I wish I knew this was going to be our last time together.
The grief lingers, keeping me up when there’s a full moon out because it reminds me of the night that you passed. It creeps up at me when I’m driving alone in my car and a song that reminds me of you comes on. I think of your family, too: your parents, husband, siblings and cousins. I wonder how everyone is after your death. Your nieces and nephews—they must all be so grown up now.
The tragedy surrounding your death left me choked but I’m finally beginning to find my voice, four years later, here on the page.
“Keep your eye on the ball. Focus, then shoot,” you’d tell me at soccer practice. I can still hear you. “You got this, Didi!” A nickname you gave me when we were seven. You called me Didi for the rest of my life. Two years ago, I came to learn it means “sister” in Hindi.
I know you’ll never get the chance to read this but it matters. You matter, and these stories matter. During these uncertain times, our memories remind me to go through life with an open heart; to live freely with joy, laughter and love, the way we did as kids. Kim, after all the memories we’ve shared, you’ve shaped me into the person I am today. Your life and your friendship was a gift, something I’ll carry and cherish in my heart forever.