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The Globe and Mail

'The pain of missing my baby' will be constant: Tara McDonald's victim impact statement

Tara McDonald, mother of slain Victoria Stafford, reads her victim impact statement to the media following the sentencing hearing for Michael Rafferty in London, Ontario, Tuesday, May 15, 2012.


Below is the victim impact statement from Tara McDonald, Tori Stafford's mother.

Here I find myself again having to try to put into words three years and a lifetime to follow of excruciating, unexplainable pain and heartache. Feelings and thoughts of loss, anger and frustration have been swirling through my mind about what I've wanted to say in this statement, but it has to be filtered as I'm only able to describe how this has impacted my life. One point I do want to make isn't about me personally but it has impacted me a great deal: Seeing how all of this has affected others, from Tori's teachers to strangers all over the country to Victoria's very best friend who had to sew a pair of Tori's shorts into a pillow so that she can feel closer to her. There's not one person out there who has seen or heard what happened who's heart doesn't just break when they consider what my little girl endured. I hate trying to describe how this tragedy has impacted my life. Instead, how it impacted by daughter's life is how it impacted me. No more birthdays, Christmas, Canada's Wonderland, graduation, prom or a wedding. All of these occasions are either never going to happen, or have been replaced by anniversaries. The day she was taken, the day they found her body, the days of court dates -- are all that is left -- and for what? If maybe things would be slightly different we were going to spend the rest of our lives wondering what really happened and wanting to know the truth.

Maybe then we could start the healing process. It has impacted me having to watch my son's pain, he has to go to a counsellor for probably the rest of his life, who doesn't even want to go to the store or walk anywhere on his own, who felt the worst pain in the world and unbelievable guilt at 11 years old for not being able to protect his little sister. I have to live with rest of my life hearing the whispers of strangers and being stared at, people wondering whether or not I had something do with the unthinkable tragedy that happened to my baby girl. My goal was to open my own business, to work with expecting parents to coach them through the labour and delivery. Given what has been said about me, would anyone want me to be there around their newborn baby? Over the last three years, I have felt every single emotion you can possible feel, but there is one that will always be constant. The pain of missing my baby. No amount of time or tears will ever bring her back to me. People say how strong I am, they wonder how I've made it through what they think they couldn't, but what choice do I really have? It pales in comparison to the pain that was inflicted on an innocent little girl. They say that the only way I'll be able to heal is to forgive. I know that is never going to happen. My entire life was destroyed that day, not only Victoria's life was taken. But mine, Daryn's, James, my mom, a part of all of us died with Tori that day.

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But Victoria wouldn't want us to be miserable forever, so for her, we will pick up the pieces and put our lives back together the best we can I have to take some comfort in the fact that something good has to come out of this nightmare. Already there have been changes made to the Amber Alert, people are teaching their children that not all strangers are big, scary men. People are holding their children tighter at night.

Hopefully nobody will ever have to go through what Tori went through that day and no family will ever have to suffer the way that we have.

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