In a beautiful quiet corner of the Riverfront Trail, surrounded by flowers, Louanne Montgomery runs her hand along the last name on the memorial to missing women in Quesnel.
This summer, her daughter, Natasha Lynn Montgomery’s name was added to the list.
Tasha, as her family refers to her, was reported missing by her mother, in September 2010 and not a day goes by the 23-year-old mother, sister, daughter and friend isn’t remembered.
“She was loved and loved those she cared about,” Louanne said.
Born and raised in Quesnel, Tasha was an avid figure skater and softball player.
“She wasn’t any trouble, she was a good kid,” her mother said with sadness.
Those who remember Tasha from her figure-skating days remarked she was a beautiful skater.
However, at 17, Tasha spiraled down into drug addiction her mother says developed on the school grounds.
“When they said she was skipping school, I was told she was in the bathroom doing drugs,” Louanne said.
“I was really stressed out – I knew she was becoming addicted.
“She was coming and going and I didn’t know where she was. I felt helpless.”
Louanne added that as a young adult there is virtually nothing a parent can do.
But to her credit, Tasha chose to enter rehab and Louanne was optimistic she would get her daughter back.
Tasha returned to school and completed high school and seemed to want to change her life and was doing well.
“She liked to party but I would drive her there and then pick her up, she wanted that,” Louanne said.
At 19, Tasha welcomed her first child and a year later her second.
“Her children were very important to her,” Louanne said.
At 21, Tasha began to relapse, sinking farther and farther into a dangerous world.
Drugs and trecherous characters drove Tasha, in fear, to leave her family and her home town, fleeing to Prince George where Louanne said Tasha hoped to be safe.
“She kept in daily contact with us and her children,” she said.
This was a troubled time for Tasha’s family as her problems began to escalate.
“As a mom I was frustrated, I wanted her to come home,” Louanne said.
“I was extremely concerned and felt helpless.”
Tasha ran afoul of the law and was incarcerated for most of 2010. She was released near the end of August and phoned her mother daily with the last call Aug. 26.
“She was looking forward to coming home to Quesnel, talking about rehab and really looking forward to seeing her kids.
“My stress wasn’t going away until I had her home,” Louanne said.
But she had no way to contact Tasha. When her daughter didn’t contact her again, Louanne set out for Prince George in hopes of finding her child.
In desperation, Louanne reported her daughter missing Sept. 23.
Life has never been the same since that day.
“In my heart I don’t believe she’s alive, unless she’s being held against her will,” Louanne said.
“The kids know mommy is missing.”
She has guardianship of Tasha’s children and Louanne said Tasha is very much a part of their world.
“We stress that Tasha is missing, we just don’t know.”
But Louanne said right now, she wants her back, dead or alive.
“I want a place to go to mourn my daughter.”
In hindsight, Louanne said she thought raising her children in a small town would give them a safe life but that certainly wasn’t Tasha’s experience and now the mother and grandmother fears for her grandchildren.
Louanne said she was honoured to have her daughter immortalized on the monument but also feels its a slap of cold, hard reality.
“It feels official,” she said, adding she obsesses about Tasha’s disappearance all the time.
“If not for my other children, husband and Tasha’s two beautiful children, I don’t know what I would do.”
Louanne plans to attend this year’s Take Back the Night event, Sept. 16 where people will gather at the Women’s Memorial Monument on Bowron Avenue beginning at 6:30 p.m., but isn’t sure she’ll be able to speak.
As with all the missing women’s names chiseled into the monument, Louanne is urging anyone with information about her daughter’s disappearance to come forward.
They can call Crimestoppers, 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) and provide the information annoymously.
Or join others at the Take Back the Night candlelight walk because support is sometimes the most important gift a grieving parent can receive.