It was a shock, of course. I can still remember how I heard. I had been working at my job as a cashier on a Sunday afternoon, and when I got home, my parents were there, along with my younger brother and my boyfriend at the time. I was kind of surprised, as my parents had been camping that weekend and didn't usually come back until Monday afternoon. The first thing my mom said was, "Colleen's mom called." I was annoyed, I'm embarrassed to admit now. Her mom had called a few times, asking if I had a textbook for Colleen to borrow, or something now silly like that. Before I could get too annoyed, my mom told me, Colleen had died. I collapsed. I literally fell to the ground. I thought that stuff only happened in movies, but my legs were no longer under me.
It turns out, Colleen's mom had called and talked to my 14 year old brother, who was then panicking. He did not want to be the only one available to tell me this horrible news. In a rare twist, my parents happened to call the house to see how the weekend was going. He, of course, asked them to come home IMMEDIATELY, and they did.
I went through the typical 'stages' of grief. At first, I was convinced someone else had killed her and it was all a cover-up. There was plenty of time to think about it, and only my own imagination to commiserate with. At her funeral, there was the group of people she hung out with in high school, and a whole bus load of people from her college about three hours away. She and I had gone to the mall together, or double dates, or just hung out, but I wasn't part of any of the 'groups' who missed her like I did. I was more alone than ever.
I still miss her. Whenever something substantial happens in my life, I know it will never happen to her. I wonder who she would have married. As I watch Maggie grow, I wonder what Colleen's children would have looked like. I'm sad that she's gone, and I'm sad that every event since has been different without her here.