It’s a quiet place, it’s a still place.
“It’s not a place I want to be,” Leah Estrada said.
But it is a place she visits every week.
“I always come and check her toys and her decorations and things,” Estrada said.
These are things that tell us about Jaidyn Estrada. Things like the pencil because she liked to draw, and the rose because that was her middle name.
“The book replicates the fact that she was in the middle of her life,” Leah Estrada, Jaidyn’s mom, said. “She had so many pages left to fill.”
These pages would have shown her love of soccer. She started playing when she was just four years old.
“Everybody on your team is getting a year older.”
But Jaidyn will always be here -- buried with love and without shame.
“You’ll always be 12.”
“She was beautiful and tall and athletic and artistic, incredibly sympathetic and empathetic towards other people,” Estrada said.
There was so much to Jaidyn, but so much more others didn’t see.
“She came to me and asked me for help. She was like, you know, I’m really sad all the time and I don’t want to play soccer anymore,” Estrada said.
It’s hard for Jaidyn’s mom to get the words out because this wasn’t like Jaidyn. Jaidyn loved soccer.
“Jaidyn’s problems were multifaceted. It wasn’t just one thing. It wasn’t just one problem,” she said. “It wasn’t just one stressor. She had all these different things.”
Things that led doctors to diagnose her with clinical depression and social anxiety.
“She had a big sense of feeling other, separate, different,” Jaidyn’s mom said.
The pain she hid from the world -- she revealed with her art.
“I said, can’t you put some color in her heart too? And she never did,” Estrada said while holding one of Jaidyn’s paintings.
She did use color on the bruises, on the dripping blood, and on the cuts.
“I think that’s how she felt sometimes, like she was fighting her inner demons daily.”
A fight she eventually couldn’t keep contained. Trying to cope with her depression and anxiety, Jaidyn had been cutting herself.
“I was so proactive and so understanding and even that wasn’t enough,” Estrada said.
Inside Jaidyn’s room, so many things show us who she was.
“I think my favorite part of her room is the fact that she put everything where it is,” Estrada said. “Like, she touched it with intention.”
Jaidyn’s headphones, the artwork on the walls, and her pencils are all where she left them.
“She was 100 adjectives but not one of them should have been depression.”
The family treats Jaidyn’s room like a sanctuary for a reason. It’s where her drawings will be stored, where her costumes will hang, where her little sister will play with her toys, and where Jaidyn died by suicide.
“I had no idea. None at all,” Estrada said. “She just wanted me to believe that she was better and she didn’t want me to worry anymore. And she tried to fight on her own. But her demons there were too many and her triggers were too hard and she got overwhelmed.”
Everyday the family still makes Jaidyn part of their lives.
“Everyday we talk about her, we think about her, we don’t make her something taboo in our lives,” she said.
Jaidyn’s brothers and sisters have even brought her presents.
“It’s our way of still interacting with her.”
It’s also their way of helping the community understand Jaidyn’s story, hoping to help another family or another child.
“I want to make a difference for you. I want to save a child and parents the pain,” she said.
Jaidyn’s grave stone will be cared for, and who she was will always be remembered.
“I want to have people understand, not just the story of her loss, but the story of her life,” Estrada said. “From now until forever. She’s always mine. And her story. Her stone. Her room. It’s all mine. Mine to continue and mine to take care of.”