there's a young mother of a child my child's age missing from the town next to me. her child goes to school 4 miles from my house. her child is missing, too.
the van was found partially submerged in one of the many waterways in this area. there are bodies of water and wooded areas and roads being searched. they are somewhere or they are not. and there are a lot of puzzling clues that don't seem to fit. or they do. and then they don't. she's at fault, or she isn't.
it's a funny thing about being missing. it's almost as if time has stopped for the person(s) missing. and yet it goes terribly on for those who remain. and sadly, entertainingly on for some.
where does one go when they're missing? are you missing just because you can't be found? is there something more? what is it? we wish we could just ring up the missing and ask. we hope we get the chance to ask.
what i have learned from the past five days of her being missing is that missing sucks. it sucks for those who are left behind, those who are searching, those who are questioning, those whose job it is to find the missing. but i've learned it especially sucks for the one who is missing.
i've learned that when you're missing, EVERYTHING is fair game towards finding you. your past and all its glories and heartaches, your recent triumphs or troubles, the suspicions and opinions long held by your neighbors, family, friends come to the surface. things you should never know people are thinking about you are everywhere and now everyone knows. your boss your neighbors your family your friends your community your kid's school the teachers the parents the lunch ladies they all know what others have been thinking. what you did in your past before now.
when you're dead, people only say mostly glowing things about you. they forget the past and they forgive the errors of your ways, the missteps. they may even embellish it a bit towards the positive.
but when you're missing, when you're missing people don't do this. they do the opposite. they play arm chair detective about the past relationships, the failures in judgment, the tattoos the drinking the life lived as lives over time are and every aspect of it comes to light. becomes important. they are clues. and we whisper them over fences and type them in the comments section of the new sites and smugly repeat them in articles and on the local news.
whoever you worked to become falls away and you are just the sum of a lot of parts. and not in a good way. your past is not a long and winding path to the person you've become, it's just a bread crumb trail to this inevitable fuck up.
when you're missing, at first it's sad and scary. there's a flurry of activity. where are you!?! and then it becomes your fault somehow. at first they say 'oh she could never.' and then they start listing the reasons why she probably did. innocent then guilty. guilty as all her past sins. because if it's your fault it can't happen to us. why are you doing this !?!
and i have to think that we don't wish the missing person malice. i have to think this is protection. for us. those who are not missing. because it could happen to anyone. couldn't it? it could happen to you or your kid it could happen to your neighbor your sister your friend.
oh, but not if we didn't have this suspect past. not if we don't buy wine in the big bottles or run around with friends with tattoos. not if we don't love the wrong people or grow up in the wrong town. well then, yes. that's different. yes. that's not us. we aren't her. so it couldn't happen to us.
i check the news every day. many times. i think about her and the boy. i hope she wasn't drinking and driving with the boy in the van, which is one of the theories. and by hoping that i fall victim to that which i am speaking out about. sigh. i am silly and mortal. still, i worry. i try to imagine that it isn't the worst case scenario. i try not to silently judge with the little bit of information at hand. i try to remember she is a silly mortal too. and i am glad for these few days when the weather's been fine, brisk, but sun shining. worried at the cold nights. worried for her and the boy.
where do you go when you go missing? and hell, what happens if you come back? what do you come back to? will you come back?
i don't know why this woman is missing. she just is. and i hope for her and i pray for her. and for the boy. may they be safe. and may things work out for the positive. and i just hope that if i ever went missing those who knew me would be kind. would understand that it wasn't of my own doing and use snippets heard here and there, or witnessed, as trial and jury and verdict.
because i've made a lot of mistakes and missteps, possessed suspect judgment and employed whacked thinking, i've been wrong when i thought i was right, and i have made a mess of things a time or two.
and i would hope that people see that those aren't bread crumbs to the inevitable fuck up. that they are steps on a path to who i am today. evidence not leading to an 'obviously' bad conclusion, just evidence of a life lived. and sometimes lives are messy and some of us just work everlong to pull them up and forward.
if i ever go missing may the world be kinder to me than it is being to this woman. because while all of it may be clues, and those clues may add up to fault, right now it's still her life. her one beautiful life. and the boy, his life. his mom. and we should be more mindful. facts, not judgment. until we know. and even after. even after we know, regardless of the outcome. of fault. be mindful. because unless you've walked in those shoes, you just can't ever know. you can't.
god help us who meet trouble on the path. and save us from those who find out about it.