If we all continue to turn the other cheek and presume it’s not our problem, the epidemic of missing children and adults, might someday be a problem that lies collectively in your own backyard. You would want the world to care and search for your missing loved one. So why aren’t you doing the same for those whom already are? Therefore it IS our problem and it should be your problem starting today.
If It Happened to Me; It Can Happen to You
When I was a younger child I was walking up the same hill that I walked every day after school, towards my home, after getting off of the bus. It was a nice day; not too warm, not to cold. I recall thinking about what snack I wanted before I met up with my friends an hour from then…not to mention the homework that a teacher so cleverly assigned with the due date of the following day. The furthest thing from my mind was the fact that I was so close to becoming another statistic; another missing child.
A gold toned four-door car had pulled up beside me. The lady inside told me, “Get in, I’ll give you a ride”. As much as that hill was a challenge to walk up after a long day at school, my inner-radar went off and told me, “This is stranger danger! I can’t believe this is happening” I looked around for anyone who may be outside that I could run to in case of an emergency, but there was no one…except for her. “I said get in and I’ll give you a ride” she yelled, breaking my train of thought; a bit more assertive. I noticed she was looking around, very nervously, as I said, “No thank you. I can walk” and I started back up the torturous hill once again. She followed me, door still open, “I SAID GET IN!!” That childhood alarm rang loud and I remember thinking, “I’ve got to yell no, I’ve got to yell no” and so I did. Albeit, it came out more like, “NO! LEAVE ME ALONE!!” and upon those words, she sped off. I never saw her, or the gold toned car, again.
I’m one of the lucky ones.
I reflect on that moment, from so long ago, and count my blessings. However, I’m often left with the reminder that this happens more than most people would like to think. I could dread on ‘what might have been’, but I much prefer to use a different approach and help those as much as I can in their search for the ones they miss and love so much.
Kristin Denise Smart
There is one particular case that has always pulled at my heart strings. It is the case of Kristin Denise Smart. A beautiful & charismatic college student full of dreams of what was to come, who went missing 13 years ago after a party on campus, only to never be heard from again. There are some leads and a suspect standing behind the 5th Amendment of our Constitution. This is preventing Kristin’s family from finding peace and bringing her home. The Smart’s have been living in a never-ending nightmare for all of these years and have no idea where their daughter is, what happened to her, and when they can bring her home to rest. Imagine living your life like this.
For one moment I would like you, the reader, to make the best attempt possible at putting yourself in their shoes. Replace the image of Kristin with your own child(ren). Hold that thought for two minutes and attempt to imagine what you felt like. The fear, anxiety, frustration and heartache… compounded. Now, multiply that combination of emotions by 13; a year for each year Kristin has been missing.
If you truly took part in that particular ‘exercise’ there is no way that you could have an idea of what they are contending with every morning they awake. Questions of, “Will today be the day we’ve been waiting for?” continually searching for Kristin and the meaning of what their souls have had to bear. What every family has felt knowing that their loved one is out there somewhere and are leaving them with a sense of enormous helplessness.
Compare it to when your own child is ill. You want nothing more than to make it better. You take them to the doctor, get them medicine, and make certain that you are doing everything possible to ensure they get better. What if you couldn’t? What if something silent and invisible was preventing you from getting to them? Again, imagine what you would feel. This is what they have to tolerate on a day-to-day basis. With the exception that there is no end in sight.
Never Giving Up Hope
The story of Shawn Hornbeck is one that touched America’s heart. His discovery offered the world optimism as he was a missing child only to be discovered approximately five years later; no more than an hour away from where he went missing from. People he knew, during his captivity, questioned who he was when reports of his story were aired on local television. Had they called someone, reported what they suspected, Shawn Hornbeck may have been home years before this.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there was Jaycee Dugard who had been missing eighteen years. She was kept in a backyard within a backyard. Someone suspected something on one of her outings with her abductor and made the call to look into it further…had they not, Jaycee may still be missing today.
Shawn Hornbeck represents those individuals who didn’t make it their problem. Jaycee Dugard represents those who did. Yes, both Shawn and Jaycee, whom once were more than likely considered dead are still very much alive. This Christmas they will be home with their
families and celebrating the fact that the greatest gift received is the mere chance to be together again. However, my mind can’t wrap itself around the question of, “How many opportunities did they both have to be found and no one did anything to help them before their discoveries?”
With that said, they are fine examples of why it’s imperative to never stop believing that even those things we believe impossible…are! Yes, a lot of cases where a child is missing for a long period of time often do not have favorable outcomes. And yes, they are absolutely heartbreaking, paralyzing a majority of people from wanting to know more, because it’s painful to hear or acknowledge that there are so many unaccounted for. But this isn’t about you.
This is About Them.
This is about them, the hope of bringing them home and the more we know…the more we care. The more we care, the more we will help. The more we help the more missing we can bring home. We cannot, however, do what needs to be done if we continue to turn the other cheek; to not want to know more about a case, take a look at a picture, spread the word via various methods; to assume there are enough people helping already – we simply cannot. It is not working.
What we are doing today, to help, is not enough. We need you. The missing need you.
Your child may someday need you. Your child may someday need… me.
Life is complicated and we always have things going on that we have to take care of. However, while we’re quick to get on the internet and play a game; forward e-mails to our friends; chat on social networking sites, etc. we could also be spreading the word or posting the graphic of a missing person (they are all over MySpace!) on our profile and asking others to please look.
You never know. Never. The one time you send out a bulletin to your friends list and it’s seen by the right person. It could be the one lead that a missing loved ones family have been waiting what seems like an eternity for. What are the odds? I won’t throw fictional statistical figures in your direction as much as I will say that you just made the odds even better. You may have very well saved a life!
Kristin’s mother, Denise Smart, shared these comments with me when I showed her this article for approval, “Every missing parents dream, because almost EVERY missing person case is solved by SOMEONE OTHER than law enforcement. It is the eyes and ears of the community that finds the perpetrator.” And she followed-up with this, ” It is often referred to as every parents worst nightmare, but in reality, it is worse than a nightmare, because there is NO opportunity to wake up!”
Your help doesn’t have to cost you money, but it’s invaluable nonetheless. In fact, it’s the most heartfelt gift you can give to someone whose world is shattered and lets them know, “Hi, you don’t know my name, but I care”.
‘Tis the Season
This holiday season I am sincerely requesting that each of you remember the missing of all ages: for those still with us, but yet unfound; to those who are gone and yet to be discovered; and to those who are alive and silently praying that this is the last Christmas they are kept from those they love. They aren’t worried about the hot holiday gifts; Zhu Zhu pets and X-Boxes are not significant. What is, is the desire to be able to live the life they were given and to be able to exist in a world that was created so they could feel safe and protected.
We’re the lucky ones. Every passing year we get to feel that way while a missing child or adult does not.
So because I am so fortunate, I will continue to make the time and help those who need me, like Kristin Denise Smart. I refuse to give up, I refuse to turn the other cheek and I refuse to act as if it’s not my problem. It is my problem… until Kristin Smart is home; at peace where she so deservingly belongs. Then it’s on to another missing person who needs me next because I will not let those who have taken them away believe that we don’t care enough and that they will get away with it. And I would do the same for you.
For more information in regard to Kristin Smart, please visit the following websites: www.kristinsmart.com; www.sonofsusan.com; and the Facebook Cause page: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/345852/29459751?m=1a240be5