He came into the family almost as a teenager so I hadn’t watched him grow from baby to toddler to boy, hadn’t been there for all the childhood milestones, when extended families come together, for another year, another achievement, another highlight to celebrate in a young and aspiring life.
Still, he was family, this boy, my brother-in-law’s beloved stepson, his mother’s precious firstborn, and his younger brother’s adored only sibling.
There he was one day, part of a family, a 14-year-old boy with a future ahead of him. The next day he was gone. Just like that – gone.
He will show up, his parents thought. He’ll just walk through the door again. Unless he didn’t. Not that day, not the next day, not the next week, month, or year. The days just kept multiplying; the number is now over 9,000. That’s 25 years of torment for his mother, stepfather and brother, a quarter of a century without a look or a word, all those endless days wondering if their lost boy is dead or alive.
“Time heals” is the old chestnut that people who have never had a survivor tend to throw towards those who have lost a loved one. Time doesn’t really heal. It just numbs.
You live your life in a different kind of plane, far removed from the place you once lived, until you finally accept that the place you once lived is gone and that you will never go there again will live You achieve a certain level of acceptance, however, because there is nothing indecisive about death.
It is one thing to endure the horror of a child’s death; I can’t even imagine the pain. However, I witnessed such a loss first hand, and how heartbreaking it was that my friends were able to bury their son. There was a gathering and a mourning and a closing of the circle of his life. In their overwhelming grief, his parents were at least granted the dignity and humanity of this last farewell.
For every family whose child is missing, sadness and hope are their daily companions. Grief for the loss and hope because there is nothing finite about this type of nightmare.
It still is for Kate and Gerry McCann; no final curtain, no real farewell. Fifteen years ago Madeleine disappeared and no matter what people say about the long elapsed time, about the McCanns’ duty to their other two children – their twins who are now 17 years old – how on earth can parents expect that they let go, stop hoping that their beloved child will come home to them?
Five years, 15 years, 25 years – is there a difference? Are you missing a lost child more at week five than at week 705? Of course not.
And there is always this one thought that eats you up: Is your child still out there somewhere?
All you want is an ending. Of course, a happy ending fulfills your dreams, but a sad ending is also an ending.
The reality, however, is that there is no end at all to the broken families of missing children.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/pain-never-ends-for-the-broken-families-of-missing-children-41616112.html For the broken families of missing children, the pain never ends