Editor’s note: Today makes 17 years since Jessica Cain disappeared after leaving a Bennigan’s restaurant at Bay Area Boulevard and Interstate 45 where she had dinner with a group of friends after a performance at Dickinson’s Harbour Playhouse. The next morning, her father found the pickup she had been driving parked on the shoulder of the southbound lanes of I-45 between exits 7 and 8 in La Marque. There was no trace of her.

When someone we love is suddenly and unexpectedly taken from us, myriad questions run though our minds as we try to make sense of the loss and come to terms with that loss.

Chiefly, among those questions is “Why?” While I would love to tackle that question, it would take volumes and I still would not have a satisfying answer.

Another question I have asked any time I have lost a loved one, regardless of the circumstances, is did this person know how much I loved him/her? Sadly, the answer is probably, “No.”

Perhaps many of us, myself included, neglect to tell those in our lives how much we love them and what they have meant to us.

Then, when tragedy strikes, we punish ourselves with all of the things we should have said and done differently.

I’ve written before about using lucid dreaming to talk to Jessica Cain in my dreams. Depending on where I am emotionally at the time, my conversations with her have varied over the years.

However, there has been one constant. As I know the dream is drawing to a close and my time with her is limited, I hug her tightly and hold on to her. I say, “I love you. I love you. I love you.” Over and over and over. Each dream ends the same way. I wake up feeling content, knowing that Jessica knows how much I love her.

Over the last year and a half, I have lost two people who I loved dearly — my Granny and my Grandpa. And I have the same questions, did they know how much I loved them? Did they know how important they were to me and the impact they had on my life?

I think maybe my Granny knew. During the three weeks she was in the hospital leading up to her death, I told her how much I loved her. But Grandpa was taken suddenly and I never told him.

I alternate between being so angry at myself for not being able to say, “I love you” to those who mean the most to me and being so profoundly sad, wondering if these people will ever know the depth of my love for them.

Maybe this is a wake-up call for me. For you, don’t be afraid to love. And don’t be afraid to say, “I love you.” Do it now, while you still have time.

To my family, friends, Jessica, Granny and Grandpa — I love you. I love you. I love you. Over and over and over.

Tonya Reid Creel lives in Texas City.


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