YouTube link added 02.03.09
9:45 PM, Tuesday, April 25th, 2006:
I've struggled with writing about this for a few days as this has become such a huge news story in LA, and I don't want to exploit that, but after the most recent news it's so overwhelming that I need to address it. This has always been my therapy and I need it now more than ever.
Friday morning when I noticed that Taja wasn't at work, it was a big deal. If another loan officer isn't there, whatever - we're all 100% commission, you don't come to work it's your own paycheck - and several people don't. Taja however ran the show. She opened the building every morning. She's the lady that you first saw when you interviewed. She's the lady that brings you all your supplies at your new desk. When free-food Friday came around, she would serve the meals personally and did it like a mom. Made sure you had your veggies and gave you what she thought you needed and you smiled and were grateful. For me personally she would sneak a postage stamp or two on a personal item, as long as I got her a cup of ice at the coffee bean downstairs. When I left the job initially back in September, she took me aside and said: "I know you'll be back hon." and she was right. So when she never showed up last Friday morning, we alllllllll knew something was wrong.
Every one of us felt comfortable over the weekend that it had to be that she needed the time and was dealing with personal issues. You hear stories of people that just can't take it anymore and they just BOOK, completely out of character. But by Monday morning when she didn't show up, we could no longer assume that. Our HR lady went to the police and by that afternoon they were able to get her face on the top of every newscast in LA. It was one of the most surreal things I've ever experienced. My co-workers and friends crying and pleading for our Taja to come back with the media everywhere at the office. It just didn't sink in.
Tonight however, it did. They found her body shot, execution style, in the back of her car. To watch the breaking news come over the television was gut-wrenching. I'd have given anything to have heard it from a friend at work before seeing it like this. I just broke down. I didn't believe it. I did something I feel so sorry for now, I called work and when the receptionist answered I just stammered:  "Is that it?!! Is that it?!? What...I...." and she started to cry, as I'm doing right now.. fuck. "Is it really over?  Was that her?!?!" God I just kept saying it, and then heard her cry and just apolgized and said I'd see her tomorrow. I just didn't want to believe it and your mind really can't comprehend what you're seeing on the television. It's such an out of body experience.
Unfortunately, the story behind the murder is one out of a Hollywood script. This was clearly not a random murder, she had just inherited an extraordinary amount of money from her mother's death last fall, she actually left Thursday to go to the bank and close an account because money was missing. As well she was pregnant and the finger pointing now is so dramatic, which makes it so much harder to deal with. You want to know WHY!!? WHAT HAPPENED?!? WHO DID THIS?!?! And when it's so makes it nearly IMPOSSIBLE to have closure. I understand far too well why friends and family members of victims have to know details. You just keep playing them in your mind, over and over and over. The emotional overload of any death is extreme, but when it's a murder - it's a completely different feeling. Sickening.
I'm still just shocked and saddened, but the anger is coming soon. What is so striking is that she is the singular person in the small office that touched everyone. The mortgage business is very segmented and even other loan officers can go weeks without ever saying a word to each other. Taja however, you spoke to several times a day and she made everyone feel special. Tomorrow is going to be one of the hardest days I've ever known. I want so badly to just curl up into a ball. I feel like I have so much on my plate right now and my head just can't take this in, but this is NOT about me. I am part of family at work, and our family has to come together and get through this. I will not sit here and pity myself when there's a 13 year old boy who just lost his mother and his grandmother last fall.
Hug your kids, kiss your wife, pet your dog. It vanishes in the blink of an eye.