There's a trend of missing people lately. People who have vanished. Sometimes foul play is suspected, Sometimes, there are no clues.
What we see is the anguish of those left behind. The pain of family and friends as they wait for answers and search endlessly for their missing loved one.
Recently, a young woman from Indiana University has gone missing. There is a lot of media attention- and the coverage is growing as it went national this morning on the Today Show.
Sunday night, a 7 year old boy with autism (nonverbal) went missing from his home. He was found dead Monday morning.
There is a young man missing in Plainfield, IN. He was last seen leaving a hotel and is reported to have a medical condition and to be grieving the loss of his grandfather.
In fact, there are more than 1,000 missing persons cases being investigated in Indiana at this time. That number is pretty evenly split between adults and chidlren.
I caught part of a show on Lifetime last night called Vanished. I got caught up in the telling of a 2 year old who went missing from his bedroom, the divorce of mom and dad, mom's suicide causing the trail to go completely cold, and the ongoing hope that the boy is out there somewhere, waiting to be found.
I've watched movies portraying the stories we all fear- of children or loved ones gone missing.
It breaks my heart. I can't imagine having someone you've loved just... disappear. I can't imagine worrying about them not having needed medication or the circumstances under which they vanished, or the conditions that they may be living in or the way they may have been killed.
I've seen plenty of news coverage in the last decade of a mom and kids found living in a hidden shed behind a house, of a teen boy found after being kidnapped a decade prior, of a body found after a long and exhausting search.
It breaks my heart.
It's one of those Big Unanswerable Questions. One that you hope gets answered someday- even if you have to wait for the afterlife for that answer. Why do people do such horrible things to each other?
Even on a smaller scale- aside from murder and molestation and kidnapping and abuse- why do we seek to hurt one another?
When someone chooses to be mean, they're trying to take away a piece of someone else. And if someone has been picked at enough, maybe they end up being something of a missing person as well. Their body is present but they've had to force their personalities, their character, their humor, their passion to disappear because they've been so bullied or picked on or neglected because of it.
I was thinking the other day about my kids growing up and what they will say about their childhood when they are adults. I look back at my own childhood and there is a lot of pain. Jeff's childhood is filled with pain. Sure, we have some happy memories. But so many of the people in my life have hard, pain filled backgrounds. And yet we fight so hard to try and make the lives of our children as wonderful as possible.
My kids will experience pain. Life happens. But I'm doing everything I can to protect them and to teach them to protect themselves from the Bad Guys- and especially from the Bad Guys that appear to be Good Guys. That's scary stuff.
Part of me wants to really understand what it's like for someone to grow up in a "normal" home and family. With "normal" hurts and life experiences. The kind of hurts where someone isn't intending to damage you.
Sometimes, missing people are those that have been taken or those that have chosen to disappear.
Sometimes, missing people feels like a bigger thing, a more confusing thing, a harder to put your finger on thing. Maybe because seeing a family in such profound pain brings me dangerously close to the edge of that terrible level of fear that I didn't truly ever feel until I became a mom.
Hug your kids, your spouse, your parents. Call up your best friend and tell them what they mean to you. Take a few minutes today to appreciate the important people in your life- make sure they don't go missing.