Six years ago, Drew was four and Austin had been missing for almost two months. On a Saturday in August, we held an awareness event at The Church at Argyle (our home church), hoping to get his face out to the community and gather volunteers to help with our upcoming search.
During the event, I walked Drew across the street to sign up for T-ball. It felt odd, planning for something fun that had nothing to do with finding Austin, but had everything to do with keeping our family life balanced. I wasn’t going to let Drew miss out on something we’d been looking forward to for years.
I also thought that by the time T-ball started, we would have found Austin and “real” life would resume.
Six years later, we are spending a Saturday in August very similarly. Ben was signed up for T-ball. And I’m brainstorming on things for our next awareness event and looking for help for our next search.
I can’t figure out if we’ve come full circle, stood in place or moved forward to a new place that just looks eerily like where we were six years ago.
Despite the voices in my head that say we’ve made no progress, I know that isn’t true.
I know that in six years we’ve not had success in finding Austin, which is why our next awareness event is the CUE “On the Road to Remember” Missing Persons National Tour where Austin is being featured as the Tour Honoree. They select someone who is either a cold case, or hasn’t had the attention needed to help bring them home. This is something we couldn’t have imagined on that Saturday in August six years ago. We thought we’d find him. We didn’t think he’d ever be considered for this, so it’s bittersweet.
But it’s true, he is a cold case.
I don’t believe that this honor will help us find him, but it will bring some attention to other cases in our area and for that we are very grateful. We’ve made progress not in his case, but through our work with other families. For my mom, that means spending her days training or searching for others missing loved ones (she’s in South Carolina doing that now). For me, that means sharing our story here, and helping families with other difficulties find Hope in whatever they face. For my kids, that means living life. Playing T-ball and baseball, starting school, being kids.
If you’re anywhere near Jacksonville, we hope you’ll come support all the families of missing persons in October, when the Road Tour stops here, and we all stop to remember. We’ll be sharing details very soon.