Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Missing People

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.



Lynn Freeman said...

And the other side to this is that a person doesn't have to go missing in body to feel like a missing person to someone else. Sometimes the spiritual and emotional and mental missing person is just as bad. Still as much uncertainty as to their fate and their well being - but certainty as to their whereabouts. Which doesn't provide a whole pile of comfort when the scales are tipped the other way. In fact, the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness is probably pretty close to that of a physically missing person.

~Tricia~ said...

Very well written Liz. I have to add to this. The child that disappeared on Sunday who had autism, he wandered. It's a very common thing among children who have autism. And among those children in this situation that "wander" they are almost always found somewhere near the water. It's a sensory thing for our children. Water is calming to them but in many, many ways VERY DANGEROUS to them as well. When Natalie was diagnosed I promptly put her into a swimming class for special needs children at Baxter YMCA because I was going to do my best to prepare her if she ever did "wander" and got into a water situation. We have a retention pond not too far from us and I still wake up during the night with a fear that she'll somehow get out of the house and end up in that pond. It's a fear that will never go away for most parents with a child who has autism. There isn't enough "awareness" out there for firefighters, police, legislators, or the regular population! There are wonderful programs out there, like the one Natalie is a part of called Project Lifesaver,that provide us parents with a little peace. It's a tracking device. Now I know that there was just a little girl last month that wandered and ended up in a construction site face down in a body of water. She did in fact have a tracking device. From my understanding two things went wrong with this: The parents didn't activate the tracking device because she was always with one of them and the tracking device didn't work in water. Here's my issue with that. The people that develop these devices have done enough research to know that children who have autism are almost always attracted to water. So why would they make one that didn't stand up to being submerged in water?! So, if you are searching for one for your child one of the main questions you need to ask is: Is this going to work in water if for some reason my child disappears and gets into a pond or pool? With Natalie at camp this summer I have to be diligent about this.. I have told her counselors that if she does get lost that they are not to look for her until AFTER they call 911 and let them know she is part of PLS... then they can resume the search.. PLS has a 100% recovery!! So far, they haven't lost ONE person! They always find them! That number was more than appealing to me, a mother of child who typically runs from me! The point of my post is to make people aware that there are products out there to help keep your children safer! Unfortunately they just aren't funded by the Government like they should be! Hug your babies, keep your family close and your eyes OPEN! <3

Eternal Lizdom said...

Lynn and Tricia-

Thank you both for sharing what I know are thoughts and feelings close to your hearts. Knowing you both the way that I do, I feel like I have added insight into what you've shared and why and I am honored that you've commented and shared these important messages.

Rebecca said...

Keep hope. Because until they are found, you'll never know. Shawn Hornbeck was found after several years of being missing. He grew up not far from where I grew up. I thrilled that he was found alive. His kidnapper is in jail!