11 years later, recalling Tara
Sharon McPhillips carefully selected her outfit Monday: pink shirt and black pants.
The same colors her daughter loved.
“It was the colors that Tara liked,” McPhillips said. “It made me feel good.”
They were the same colors used in ribbons worn by family members and friends after her daughter disappeared.
Tara Sidarovich, 19, vanished from her family’s home on Oct. 1, 2001, also a Monday.
A pink-and-black ribbon remained pinned to McPhillips’ shirt, above her heart, for more than nine months while Tara’s whereabouts remained unknown after the two septic servicemen visited their Westwood Drive home, which is just east of Punta Gorda.
Many who remember Tara likely remember the pretty, girl-next-door with a big smile on the “Missing” posters around Southwest Florida, and at the Port Charlotte Town Center mall, where the teen worked at jewelry kiosks.
Many who remember Sidarovich might connect the Burnt Store Road cross bearing her name and marking the entrance into the woods where her remains were found July 12, 2002.
McPhillips plans to return to that site today — on what would have been her daughter’s 31st birthday — to place a new Tigger at the cross.
Many wouldn’t know that Tigger was a favorite. Or that she had a teddy bear named Sammy.
Or that she was a cheerleader and a softball player in Scranton, Pa.
Or that she once was named among “Who’s Who of American High School students.”
Or that she wanted to be a crime scene investigator.
Or that she shared a room with her little sister, Veronica.
Or that she liked triple-decker peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.
Or that she watched the movie “Hardball” with her family that Sunday night before that terrible Monday.
Or that she would have become an aunt twice — the most recent to her younger brother, Paul, who named the baby after his sister, Taralina.
Or that she once accidentally dyed her hair bright pink.
“It’s nice to have those memories feel a little different now,” McPhillips said.
This Monday was different than most Mondays over the last
Most Mondays were unbearable. She would remember seeing her oldest daughter sleeping in bed, holding Sammy, before leaving to go to work. Then she would replay the rest of that Monday, Oct. 1, 2001,
over and over again: the phone calls to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and finding pieces of evidence in their home. Days turned into weeks and soon it became Tara’s birthday, Oct. 30, 2001.
“I just want to wish her a happy birthday from the family and tell her that I love her,” McPhillips said on her daughter’s 20th birthday.
Then came Halloween, Tara’s favorite holiday, followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas, etc., until the annual cycle began again every Oct. 1.
“I will fight for Tara forever,” McPhillips said one year after that terrible Monday. “I’m a mother that is not going away.”
On this much better Monday — when arrest warrants were announced for two suspects in her daughter’s murder — McPhillips stood next to a photo of her daughter, wearing that pink and black Tara loved so much.
“I’m just so glad we have come to the first steps for justice for Tara,” she said this Monday.