I will never forget that day.
I will never forget the uneasiness of taking the phone from my supervisor after he said it was Peace Corps.
I will never forget Janelle’s voice when I asked her how things are and she said, “Not good.”
I will never forget walking into the hostel and finding the other volunteers, somber, around the coffee tables.
I will never forget the bus ride from Zinder to Niamey, hot and long but I couldn’t close my eyes because there her face would be.
I will never forget the night before the memorial service, everyone telling me to sleep but I couldn’t. Sleeping was too hard.
I will never forget seeing the casket, with the American flag draped over it, being lifted and disappearing into the airport hangar.
Two years later, I am now serving in another country, on the other side of the continent. My job is different, the faces have changed, but I still think of her often. When I hear a song that reminds me of her, I will throw a kiss up to the sky. My service may have changed, but is, and will always be, dedicated to the beautiful, funny girl I met two and half years ago. The girl, living her Peace Corps dream, who went to sleep one night and never woke up.
Today, I am going to make breakfast burritos because it was one of the last things we talked about. I am going to listen to “Shewolf” because she sang karaoke to it at our swear-in party. I am going to think about her friends and family, who are still, as I am, coping with this loss. I am going to smile up at the sky because I know that is where she is.
Stephanie Marie Chance, I love and miss you dearly.