10 Years Later….

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I know this blog was meant to be about my experiences in parenting and marriage but I think it’s appropriate for this post to take a slightly different turn. On Friday it will be November 22nd. On Friday it will be 10 years since Dru Sjodin was taken from us.

On November 22nd I called Victoria’s Secret at 2:30pm to see if I had to go in for my on-call shift. I was so upset when they said to come in since I was ready to start my weekend in Fargo with my family. I went in, completely irritated. At work we would get assigned to “zones” during our shift. That day they had me working the front of the store with Dru after she had been at the cash register, steaming new merchandise. Her shift was almost over but that hour and a half she was there with me made it fun. She had me help her pick out things for herself in the store and told me all about her boyfriend, Chris. Her eyes lit up talking about him and what an impact he had made on her life. She said, “I think he’s the one.” And I knew she meant it.

When she left, she was going to do a little shopping before getting ready to go to her second job at the El Roco – the local college watering hole. At the time, I was dating a bartender there who was close friends with Dru. They worked together every Sunday night and every Sunday night I’d go there to eat and hang out with them on what was typically a slow night. She asked if I was going to be in that night and I told her I was off to Fargo for the weekend. She gave me a hug and a big smile and said, “Well… see you Sunday night?” and I said, “As usual!” She walked out, blew me a kiss and said, “Love ya!” It was the last time I saw her alive.

I have had nightmares of her wearing the outfit she was wearing that day, down to those black shoes I used to tease her about. I’ve thought about every possibility of that monster seeing her in the front of the store when we were working. I asked myself why didn’t we get off at the same time so she wouldn’t have walked to her car by herself. I wondered why during what was the beginning of a busy holiday shopping season, no one saw her in the parking lot. These are all questions that haunted me and still do at times.

For some reason I had turned off my cell phone that night in Fargo. I woke up to 10 voicemails. Some frantic. I called my friend Leslie and she said, “Where have you been?! Someone from Victoria’s Secret is missing. It’s all over campus.” My heart literally stopped. I called the store and my manager said, “You need to get back here right away. The police will want to talk to you.” Walking into the mall was out of body – there were already Missing posters with Dru’s picture hanging on the doors.

The next few days/weeks were a blur for all of us. We all clung to each other for support as we sat at our old house on Harvard Street in Grand Forks, ND. We’d all look at each other and think, “This isn’t something that happens here… she’ll come home… right?” The day they showed the picture of A.R. was one of the worst days. Seeing his face and knowing that he was the one responsible for the disappearance of our friend was almost unbearable.

In the years since that awful day we have kept her memory alive – not the way she died but the way she lived. She has touched lives of people who didn’t know her, people who had only met her once and her countless friends and family. For us girls at Victoria’s Secret, we were and still are a family. Some of my best-friends from college came form working at that store. The picture on the right was taken just a couple of months before she was abducted. As many people know, she was a part of the Gamma Phi sorority on campus. We would tease her at work because most of us weren’t involved in the Greek system. Every fall all of the sororities would dress alike and take pictures in the front of their houses for rush. So we decided to do the same 😉 At one point she whispered to me, “Do you smell dead fish? You did shower today right?” and laughed – that fountain smelled awful!

We all have wonderful memories of her. Dru and I bonded over our love of designer handbags. We also tended to gravitate towards the same guys. I remember one night she said, “I met this REALLY nice guy! I want you to meet him!” – it was my ex boyfriend. We all got a good laugh out of it! She could make you laugh even when you were in a bad mood. She was sarcastic and outgoing. She was creative and talented. She had a bigger heart that any of us had, especially in our 20’s. She was always thinking about others and how she could make an impact.

I’ve watched her mother, Linda,  keep Dru’s memory alive and fight for the rights of women over the last 10 years. She has become a part of my family and someone I look up to. Her strength is beyond inspirational. She has dealt with so much loss and agony over the years and her promise to Dru keeps her going. I love that woman. Dru’s absence has brought so many people together.

Now being a mother and a wife, I think about Dru differently. She would have made a wonderful wife and mother. She would’ve been the type of mother who would play dress up and talk in different voices and open up all sides of the imagination! She would’ve been loving, caring and compassionate. She would have been FUN. That is probably the hardest to think about at this point. What could have been. What SHOULD have been.

On Friday, November 22nd, I will remember Dru. The impact she’s made on all of us. The void that will never be filled. And I will be thankful this holiday season like I am every holiday season for my family and friends. For my husband and wonderful son. And for the life that God has allowed me to continue to have on this Earth. I will light 10 pink candles and have a jag bomb in her memory like she would want us to do.

Never forget….

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14 thoughts on “10 Years Later….

  1. I can’t believe it’s already been 10 years. I worked there my senior year in high school which would have been about a year after this happened. I remember my mom and dad not being excited about it fearful I’m sure that it could happen again. I will be thinking of you and Dru this Friday and will keep you in my prayers. That was a beautiful write-up about Dru and it sounds like you two really had a great relationship!

    • Thanks Cierra! The amazing thing is hearing all of the stories from Dru’s many friends and family throughout the years. We all have such wonderful memories of and with her 🙂

  2. I just want to tell you that you are absolutely right about Dru playing dress-up and talking in different voices. I was in her graduating high-school class, and took several classes with her, including a Child Development class. We had the opportunity to do a mini-daycare, and I have a very vivid memory of her when it was her turn to be in charge. I remember watching through the glass with the rest of the students and smiling as she gave medical attention to a plastic dinosaur, very seriously consulting with a child on the best way to revive it. I may not have known her well, due to my overwhelming shyness in school, but I always admired her large heart and joy for life. Thank you for sharing your memories. 🙂

  3. I will always remember beautiful Dru Even though I didnt know her personally, she won over my heart! Such a wonderful person and such horrific tragedy. I think of her so often, and I still cant park on that side of the mall when going there. Was Michelle the manager you talked about at VC? She is a friend of mine. Prayers to all of Du’s friends and family, I know she is loving you from heaven.GOD bless!

  4. Your story made me cry but cry because of all the good things you said. You didn’t made a star out of a bad person. I didn’t know this wonderful young woman but I will remember her forever. My 16 yr old daughter died in 2007 in a car crash. I remember her talking about Dru like they were good friends. Hearing your story explains why. Thank you for keeping her memory alive with wonderful words.

  5. Thank you for sharing your memories of Dru! I remember that day so well. Hearts broke everywhere when Dru disappeared. I never knew her, but had lived in Grand Forks and find it so hard to believe that something so horrific could happen there. So great to hear more about Dru. You keep her spirit alive! You could tell by the smile on her face that she was just an amazing woman. She looked as though she was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside…and you just confirmed that. May God give you and her friends/family strength as you come upon the 10 yr mark. 😦

  6. I remember that day like it was yesterday. my phone was blowing up during my celebration with my then girlfriend. I was less worried than I should’ve been with the way I knew Dru. I miss her so much now and wonder who she would be today. Like the touching song by Kenny Chesney. I never recognized all the help that got me through those hard times so Beth thank you a million times for everything and for putting me up in Pequot Lakes. I would like to see everyone again soon. I have to stop short.

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