“Hon, do you know a girl with the last name Paquette?” my mother asked on the other end of the phone. “Noelle?” I answered.
I never knew Noelle personally, but as is so often the case in Sarnia, I knew of her; we attended high school around the same time and our friend groups intertwined. I was living in Calgary when my mum called me with the news of her death.
For days I could think of nothing else, so haunted and disturbed. I’ve always enjoyed a good crime thriller and can recite the Law & Order: SVU opening monologue in my sleep, but this -‐ this was too real. How could something so horrible, so unfathomable happen, to a girl just like me, in my hometown?
My heart ached for her family, friends and this tight-knit community, though I was 2,000 miles away. I thought to myself: if you can make it through life without ever having to experience the absolute anguish and grief that her nearest and dearest must feel, you can consider yourself lucky.
In light of the release of these new, horrid details surrounding her death, I find myself thinking about Noelle’s murder again. That poor, sweet girl. How … why … do people so twisted, so demonic exist? How … why … could they physically, mentally, humanly do what they did?
Then it hit me. I’m not going to give her killers, evil-‐incarnate, one more thought. They don’t deserve my thoughts. They deserve to waste away, never spoken of again, while memory of their existence dissolves in the annals of time. I thought: unlike them, Noelle will never be forgotten. Unlike so many tragedies that occur every day and at any given second, maybe this tragedy is different.
In her life, Noelle gave a voice to those whose voices are small and often go unheard. Since her passing, Noelle’s Gift has raised over half a million dollars in celebration of her life’s work and in honour of her memory. This is a true testament to Noelle’s character and the impression she made, and will continue to leave, on lives young and old. Good has ultimately triumphed over evil, as it should.
There is no undoing the atrocities that occurred on Jan. 1, 2013, but I pray that those who love Noelle most feel some sense of solace and peace in the knowledge that her light will shine eternal.
I hope those who love her most never stop feeling our compassion and wholehearted support. Noelle’s spirit will live on, always and forever, in our community and in our hearts.
Allie Lynch is a corporate communications advisor who has recently returned to Sarnia, a town she is proud to call home.