Like a Brick

I think most people with a missing loved one adjust over time to the new reality.  Some adjust better than others, finding a new purpose and way to express their grief and help others.  Some adjust in a destructive way, not allowing themselves to fully participate in the life they still have and love that still remains.  But we all adjust and find a new normal over time.

One of the many reasons that someone with a missing loved one can’t move on, get over it, or go through all the stages of grief, is that the cycle repeats itself over and over. There are new searches to do, leads to track, people to call, issues to handle…. or sometimes no new leads, no new searches stretching out so that the lack of such is an event in itself.

Sometimes in the midst of that new normal, when you think you’re doing okay, something happens to remind you that there is nothing normal about this.  A new injury occurs every time, a new need to heal.

With Austin, we’ve had several of those.  The first that I clearly remember was about four months after he disappeared.  We missed him, we hurt for his loss, but we really believed we would find him alive, and soon.  Then it happened.  Our detective called my mom and wanted to meet with her alone to share some news.  The had learned that he went to a pawn shop and purchased a shotgun, then went to a store to purchase ammo, and left on foot with the gun in a duffle bag.  For most of my family, that ended the belief that we would find him alive.  It shifted our efforts and resources.  It shifted our world.

A year or so later, we hadn’t found him and were reminded at times about the money he had on him that would have gotten him a start out of town if he wanted, that we should still believe that happened.  But then another shot.  We received a letter from the payroll company his employer used, and learned that the final paycheck, the one that we thought he’d cashed, never was.  He had a check for almost $1000 that he never cashed.  Clearly another blow to the belief that he chose to go away.

There have been so many others, so many other days where it felt like a brick hitting us in the head with the reality of what we face.  The weeks I spent arguing with a bill collector that he really wasn’t living with us anymore, that I really wasn’t lying to them took a toll.  The birthdays missed, the holidays without him.  But after each one, we adjust.  It takes time, but we again find our way back to a new normal.

Today was a small brick.  Nothing monumental.  My mom receives emails from one of Austin’s old accounts, and today received an email from a recruiter, wanting to talk with him about a position that he seemed to match.  It would have been a great position for him.  It matched his skills, his qualifications, and sounds like one he would have enjoyed.  But he’s not here.  He’s missing out on so many things.  So often we think about what we’re missing out on, but today I’m reminded that he had so much to look forward to.

Side Note:  I love music to help lift a mood.  As I finished writing this, one of my very favorite songs was playing.  The words ring true to me.

Flood- by Jars of Clay

Rain, rain on my face
It hasn’t stopped raining for days
My world is a flood
Slowly I become one with the mud

But if I can’t swim after forty days
And my mind is crushed by the thrashing waves
Lift me up so high that I cannot fall
Lift me up
Lift me up – when I’m falling
Lift me up – I’m weak and I’m dying
Lift me up – I need you to hold me
Lift me up – Keep me from drowning again

Downpour on my soul
Splashing in the ocean, I’m losing control
Dark sky all around
I can’t feel my feet touching the ground

Calm the storms that drench my eyes
Dry the streams still flowing
Cast down all the waves of sin
And guilt that overthrow me

Lift me up – when I’m falling
Lift me up – I’m weak and I’m dying
Lift me up – I need you to hold me
Lift me up – Keep me from drowning again

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