A Yorkton home that used to be filled with the sounds of a happy family enjoying the music of violins and piano has been silenced by the disappearance of Mekayla Bali.
The living room has been turned into a command centre as the Bali family searches for the girl, who hasn’t been seen since the morning of April 12.
“April 12 was just a really regular morning in our house. I think of the difficult things was just how regular of a day that was, and that nothing was out of the ordinary,” Mekayla’s mother Paula Bali said on Tuesday, nearly three months since the girl’s disappearance.
As usual, Paula’s mother had dropped her off at work before driving Mekayla to school.
“She, for whatever reason, didn’t go to classes that day,” Paula recounted. “(She) walked downtown, did a few things, and then approximately 1:30, they believe, is when she went missing.”
It wasn’t until the end of the school day that the family learned Mekayla was missing. Her grandmother went to pick Mekayla up, but the 16-year-old never came out of the school.
Mekayla’s family refers to her as their “princess”. She was active in drama and music lessons. Paula says Mekayla never broke curfew, and despite her young age, one of Mekayla’s favourite activities was making homemade noodles.
Paula says she instantly felt something was wrong when she learned Mekayla hadn’t been at school that day.
“You raise a kid from the time they’re born. You know them so well. And for this to be the situation, I just knew instantly that something – something was amiss.”
She tried texting her daughter, but soon Paula found herself at the RCMP detachment reporting her daughter missing.
“When I came home to grab some pictures to take the RCMP station, to look in that box where I always keep cash for emergency situations. It wasn’t locked and Mekayla knew where it was. To see all that money sitting there … just to be sitting there, not taken – I’ll admit it, I had a freak out right there.”
The months that followed have left Paula feeling distraught and terrified. Along with her sister, mother, friends and children, Paula has paused her life to search for Mekayla. The family sleeps in their living room in shifts, making sure someone is awake to answer the phone should it ring.
“They just play such beautiful violin and piano. And Mekayla is so talented … Every day you hear her playing and playing. And then suddenly one day it’s quiet,” said Mekayla’s aunt, Rhonda Bali, of how life is in the home now.
“She’s got a brother and a sister, and they don’t get it either … they stopped playing instruments too because they can’t play until she gets home.”
Between searching online, communicating with people on Facebook, traveling around the province, writing letters and making calls, Paula dedicates every moment to looking for her daughter. The family recently had to mark Mekayla’s 17th birthday without her.
While the three months since Mekayla went missing have been agonizing, Paula refuses to slow down, saying the hardest part is having no clues as to where her daughter is or what may have happened to her.
“I don’t want to overly rely on mother’s intuition, but in my heart, I feel that she’s alive. I feel she may not be safe, but that she is alive.”
Paula puts out messages to Mekayla often, including the following one in her interview with CJME:
“Mekayla, if you hear this, we just want you to know how much we love you and we care about you. We just want to make sure you’re OK. And we just need to know that you are safe, wherever you are. And just know that you are loved and missed dearly by your family.”