NOTE: For the next month, I’ll be participating in a Blogathon, where we are supposed to post entries to our blogs daily. Expect to see more posts, of varying size — with less editing.
I went into a local café and as I stood at the counter getting my coffee, I noticed the poster of a woman who’d gone missing in North Jersey was no longer on the bulletin board. I hoped that meant she’d been found. I knew that was unlikely. Either she’d been missing for too long, and the owner of the café wanted to make room on the bulletin board for other notices like upcoming shows at a local music venue, or worse, she had been found but in a ditch or a state park.
I’d looked at the poster dozens of times over the last few months as I poured my coffee, scanning the five photos a distraught family member must have pulled together to make the flyer. In one, she’s wearing a rust colored dress with black leggings. In others, she’s wearing a floppy sun hat. She was a full-figured girl with a round face, wavy brown hair and a bright smile. She was 30. I’d heard the posters were distributed by her parents. It made me think she lived at home and had gone missing on account of a man, perhaps someone with whom she’d been corresponding online for months. She’d finally gone to meet him, with all the hope and anticipation of a young woman who yearns to get out of her parents’ house, to be touched and told she was beautiful, to be loved, truly loved for who she is.
I can’t imagine losing a child. I thought of a friend whose son died from a heroin overdose and how she was devastated. I thought of a colleague, who grieved online in the wake of her son’s death, posting photos and videos made by people who loved and cared about him. I had relatives who lost a child while he was away at summer camp. He was about 10. Thirty years later, their bedroom is still filled with photos of him from that time period, like a shrine. Every time I see them, I think, they are the ones who lost a son. It defines them.
Last night, before I went to bed, I searched online for more information about the missing woman from the bulletin board in the café. I found some news stories about her disappearance. Her name is Meaghan McCallum, and she’s bipolar. She’s been missing since March, and while she’s disappeared for a day or two in the past, she’s never been gone this long. Indeed, there was a theory that she had gone to meet a man she’d met online, but for some reason, family members discarded that notion. Her car was found not far from my café, and for a time, some reported seeing her in my area, but those sightings turned out to be another woman. The family has set up a Facebook page to field tips and keep people posted about Meaghan’s case. To date, she has not been found.
I was listening to a radio show this week where the Korean mother of a young girl who’d been murdered said there’s a Korean saying that says when a parent dies before the child, they go to heaven, but when a child dies before the parent, they go to the parent’s heart. She said only when she dies will her child die. That sounds about right.