Showing Up

A few weeks ago marked the annual “worst week” for us, which is the week 7 year ago that started with such joy, and ended with such heartbreak.

7 years ago, a little boy was turning 4 and celebrating with people who loved him, with cake and swimming and toys. The world was perfect that afternoon. One of his favorite gifts was a big green dinosaur that moved and roared, from his Uncle Austin. He was excited most of all to be going on a trip away from mom and dad for the first time, heading to the beach with his beloved Nina.

The trip was cut short, the beach had to wait, as he and his Nina rushed back to help find Austin.

This year, that little boy turned 11 and he celebrated with people who loved him, with cake and swimming and electronics, and a carbon copy 4 year old brother. The world was almost perfect for an afternoon. He slid down roller coaster type water slides, posted photos on his new Instagram account from  his new phone, and stuffed his face with pizza. He was excited about his baseball trip the next weekend, ready to hit the clay.

But before that trip, he helped welcome his Nina back, as she came to help find Austin.

So much the same.

7 years ago, friends and family rallied beside us, determined to help find him. Now, in all honesty, most of those who knew Austin don’t show up anymore. But more people than we ever could have asked for, that never knew Austin, do show up. They showed up in large groups, from all over the Southeast (and a few even further).

And the same story was told over and over. They showed up, because my mom shows up. She showed up and sat with them on the side of the interstate while their son was pulled from the water. She showed up and wouldn’t go home when planned, because they needed her. She showed up and handed out tough love, pushing searchers hard. She showed up and was cut and bruised and swelling and kept going.

There is so much to be said for showing up.

This group stood together, on the side of a busy road and hugged and cried and loved. They showed up. For my mom and for Austin. For Rosemary and her family. For Mark and Bryan and their families. For Josh and his family. For John and his family. For the others represented there that night.

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And then they searched.

For 2 days, in 100 heat index weather, in long pants and long sleeves and boots, with short breaks for water and snacks.

Including my mom.

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And we reached the end of this part of the journey. Austin wasn’t brought home. And that creates more questions than answers. It felt like our story of the search for Austin was coming to an end. But instead, it was the end of what we know to do for now.

I don’t know what’s next. Before I even thought about it, we needed to go enjoy some family time and be reminded of all the joy there still is. We cheered on Drew in baseball. We swam in freezing springs. We listened to bullfrogs and crickets and horses. We reconnected with friends and twirled sparklers on a beach in the dark.

We celebrated summer like we didn’t get to 7 years ago.

We won’t ever stop searching. We won’t ever stop yearning for answers. We won’t ever stop aching with miss.

But we’ll keep showing up. For me, that mostly means showing up for my kids. Because they deserve summers full of all the things my brother and I enjoyed.

And I’ll keep hearing his laugh, knowing that we haven’t lost all of him.

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What’s keeping you from showing up in areas you maybe should? For hurting friends, for fast growing kids, for yourself.

Showing up can look like many different things. It can look like a hug, a text, a card. It can look like a freshly mowed yard, a plate of cookies or an afternoon entirely dedicated to them.

Something is coming to mind- somewhere you need to show up.

Show up. Celebrate. Laugh. You won’t get today back.

 

 

 

Searching for the Lost

search truckToday, in many different places, a search is being organized.

Searchers are packing their things and their dogs and their tools.

Search leaders are scouting where the teams will search just past daybreak tomorrow.

Why today?  Well, because it’s Friday and these are volunteers, most who also work full time jobs and care for families.  So today they prepare, and tomorrow they search.

Because on the weekends, they become heroes, searching for the Lost.

Today, they are bringing HOPE to a family.

Today, that family prepares their heart for the weekend of not taking a breath while they wait.  Wait for what they fear.  Wait for what they long for.

Today, we pray for both.  For searchers heading out, and for families getting ready.

Today, that family isn’t ours.  But it will be again one day, hopefully soon.  And though this is repeating itself all over the country today, today my heart is with one specific family, and one specific group of searchers.

Today, pray for them with me.

For a look at what a family goes through during a search, read this post. 

 

When the path becomes difficult, that’s no reason to give up. In fact, it means you’re making real progress. The mountain becomes more rugged and steep the closer you get to the summit. Keep going, keep climbing, keep making the effort, and soon you’ll find yourself reaching the top.

 The challenges you encounter are unquestionable proof that you’re making a positive difference. Make use of those challenges, not as an excuse to stop, but rather as a platform from which to push forward.

 For the greatest achievements come in response to the greatest challenges. When the going gets rough, you are most certainly in the presence of profound opportunity.

 When there is much that must be done, there is enormous value waiting to be created. Step boldly forward and claim that value.

 Whatever may come, whatever may seem to block your path, choose to keep moving. There are truly magnificent rewards just on the other side of your persistent efforts.

— Ralph Marston

The Roller Coaster Ride

It’s not unusual for a year to go by with nothing new to report on in our search for Austin.  That’s true of most of us with a cold case missing person, and it may be one of the hardest parts to accept.  But we’ve had some activity in the past few weeks, and I wanted to share some of what it’s like to go through the roller coaster of ‘what if’ and ‘maybe’.

One of the most respected women in search and rescue, Monica Caison had been encouraging my mom to search one specific area we never had, the property around the house where Austin and I grew up.  Mom was hesitant for her own reasons, and I pushed every now and then to please make it happen.  The plan was for a small group to go, just a few people from her own search team, as it’s quite a small area.  Monica helped scout on a Friday, and on that Saturday, four searchers including my mom, began to work.  While they worked, I wrote some thoughts, always praying that when I shared this, I’d be sharing about the day we brought Austin home.  Here’s what I wrote as I waited:

“From where I stand… Birds calling, crickets chirping, occasional dog barking, leaves falling, trees towering, sun shining warm,  quiet, peaceful….
As I write, a small search for Austin is underway.  We’ve had quite a few, so I have a somewhat nonchalant attitude towards them usually. In the beginning, I would always think “today is the day” and be nervous.  As time has gone on, most searches have been repeats of the same areas or areas we didn’t feel that strong about.  So I lost that feeling for the most part.  Pulling up to a team of searchers always gave me a moment of belief that today might be the day, and leaving with no results always gave me a bit of a letdown, but less and less over time.

Today is different.  Today it’s just 4 people and 3 dogs.  Today my mom is searching instead of organizing.  Today we’re home, meaning we’re where Austin and I grew up, where I have the most feeling of home and where he did too.  Though we don’t own the house or property and haven’t for years, we still visit out here because of close family friends who are still here.  When I turn down the road, it still feels like going home.  It’s where we made most of our childhood memories, its where we made lifelong friends, its where we were a family.  About halfway through college for me, and halfway through high school for Austin, our parents split and things changed a lot.  Austin still lived there for a few years, and I spent one more summer there, before Dad made the decision to sell.  I don’t know if Austin’s last few years here tarnished the good memories so much that he didn’t still feel the strong connection to it that I do.  I was gone, living an hour away through the worst of that, so I don’t have the same viewpoint.

I wasn’t convinced that the pull here would be strong enough that he’d come back here for his final moments.  But we’ve searched everywhere else that seems to make sense.”

My kids and husband came and we played baseball and soccer for a few hours while they searched, reminding me how abnormal it is for my kids to think it perfectly normal to play yards away from a search, a search for their own uncle.  My youngest doesn’t know, but my oldest is well aware.  A few hours later, the team packed up and left without any find.  It turns out that the area really is too grown up and too dense for that small a team, and some heavy equipment is needed.  I left sad, with that feeling that this wasn’t really the place, and knowing it would likely be months before the next search happened, meaning more time of just waiting.  That’s the road for a family member though, always having sparks of hope that you have to allow and have to feel, while wanting to instead protect yourself from the letdown that comes after you allow yourself to hope.

Fast forward a week and a half or so….

I was getting ready to walk out the door to work when I realized my husband and mom were talking and there were words like ‘serial number’ and ‘police’ floating to me.  I stopped and listened.

My mom had been awakened about 3:30am by a phone call from someone who scavenged for metal, and had found bones in carpet, almost buried in dirt the night before.  He’d called the police and they’d sent uniformed officers, but they hadn’t taken him seriously it seemed, and he couldn’t sleep.  So he was searching online for information about missing people in that area, and came across Austin’s info.  On that was the Finder’s Hope logo, and from there he found my mom’s phone number- not realizing she was also Austin’s mom.  He’d read about the shotgun we were also looking for, and was startled by the fact that he’d found the barrel of a shotgun (same brand) months ago, broken down and half buried, in another nearby spot that we had searched very near to.  The bones were several blocks away, but also between the Pawn Shop (where Austin purchased the gun and was last seen) and where he’d found the gun.  He still had the gun, including the serial number and would be glad to hand it to police.

We couldn’t piece together how both could be related to Austin, but one or the other very possibly could, and if not him, it could be someone else’s missing loved one.  I let work know I’d be only partially available as we figured out what to do, and my mom started calling the missing persons unit, leaving messages and calling back until she was able to speak to someone who listened.  Thankfully, the detective said he was jumping in his car to go check it out right then.  He asked us to wait till we heard back.

That lasted about 10 minutes, until Michael and I drove by the entrance to the site where the bones were found, and then by the house where the guy lived.  Once we realized the detective was indeed there, we went on, waiting anxiously for any word.  We lasted a little bit longer, before my mom left and sat at the entrance where there were now two empty unmarked cars, leading us to believe they were looking for the site.  I tried to be somewhat productive, with a few work phone calls and emails, as I had something fairly large and difficult going on there to deal with too.  I knew that it was unlikely to be the day we had answers, but as my husband reminded me, “it has to be one day.”

My mom and I returned to the site, with both of my boys in the car and my husband off to class, because even in the midst of days like that, we have to continue on with life, though I knew he was keeping his phone close and would rush back if needed.  By this time, another search team member and friend of my mom’s was on her way with her dog, in case help was needed.  And I’m sure though she didn’t say it, in case the gun was his or the bones confirmed human, to be there with us.

As we pulled up, I told my oldest, “we’re going stopping by a search to talk to some police, I need you to stay in the car” and almost laughed as we saw once again how normal these things were to him.  We approached the officers, six in total, and introduced ourselves.  They shared that the bones had been located, and that their dog was on the ground to determine if they were human, as it was a small amount of bones.  They were large enough to be human potentially.

Four of the six plainclothes officers immediately separated themselves away once we introduced ourselves, not even acknowledging us.  We didn’t know the remaining two but were told that the detective we’d talked with, along with the K-9 and his handler were a bit beyond view.  We were probably some of the most composed family members they’d seen, as we tried to chat with them about search and rescue, laughed about my fear of snakes that kept me from being a searcher, and discussed the fact that we were out there for us, but also for any family who might be about to find answers.

It was probably no more than 5 minutes later when the detective, the K-9 and handler walked in to the clearing and started towards us.  My mom kept chatting, while I realized that we were either about to have hope dashed, or have the start to the longest few weeks of our lives while we waited to learn who it was.

They were dashed.  The remains weren’t human.  The gun’s serial number didn’t match.  We thanked the detective and walked back to our car where I cheerfully told my son that the search had found some bones, but just an animal and we were going home.

I returned home for an afternoon of conference calls and work, and mom picked up to do whatever she had planned for the day.  The searcher friend was turned around, and our lives went back to normal.

But our normal is not that normal and I’m always aware of that.

Last night I heard an inspirational message from a singer who had lost his voice and had it restored through a risky surgery that threatened his career and his passion.  When his voice did return, it was better than before, and he learned a lot about trusting God when all seems bleak.  I’ve heard so many other stories with similar messages, and I sometimes feel the weight of wondering when our turn to have a completion to this ‘story’ is.  When I’ll be able to tell about our struggles, but with a conclusion to our years of searching instead of this open ended story.  But I heard so clearly last night, that the longer we search, the more powerful our story of keeping hope no matter the situation becomes, and the more people to know of Austin, and be able to celebrate with us when there is an end to the search one day.  I’d still like it to be today.  The roller coaster is no fun.

But I share because that is the only action I can take, I share that someone may see the HOPE we still have, and will always have.  And I share that when we do find Austin, even more will know the struggle to get there and be able to see how God worked.

Thank you for those who ride the roller coaster with us, and for those whom we know we can call when we need you, even if you never knew any of this was going on.  We did keep all of this fairly quiet for a variety of reasons, and often have to.  But do know, that when the day comes that there is a different end to this story, we’ll be so thankful you’re there.

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Day One

Two years ago I wrote about the day we realized Austin was missing. It was actually the day after his last known whereabouts, but we didn’t know that for a few more months.  I’ve already forgotten many of these details, and even what some of it felt like.  Remembering is painful, but remembering is good.  And since writing this I’ve come to understand how much sharing can help.  Both myself, and others who may need hope.  Thanks for taking this journey with us, all five years of it. 

Day 1
I often don’t remember details well.  I remember emotions, and I remember the overall feel of things, but not all the details.  But this day is different; this is a day I remember the details of. 
I went to work and had a normal day, nothing special.  I was wishing I was at the beach with my Mom and Drew, but was so glad he was spending time with family and knew he was loving it.  I missed him terribly, it was after all his first time away from us, but I was relaxed, knowing he was safe and I had a quiet house to head to.  But then my cell phone sounded with the ring tone of an unknown number.  I usually don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t know.  But something prompted me to pick it up- maybe it was the ease of the day, or maybe God prompted me.  
Later learned it was June 26

It was a voice I had heard once before, a voice to a face I had never seen.  But her voice, that call, would change everything.  It was Austin’s friend and co-worker (and more I would later learn), Kelly.  She was panicked sounding and said that Austin hadn’t shown up for work that day, and wouldn’t answer her calls.  She told me he had called in the day before and she hadn’t been able to get in touch with him since.  She said it was unlike him.  She said he had never just not shown up for work.  This was after all, a job he loved.   She said that I needed to call the police.  I told her I’d think about it, and would probably call.  I wasn’t sure I would, but wanted to calm her.  

    
I took it all in, with my mind quickly making up reasons why there was no cause for concern.  Sure I hadn’t seen him the night before or that morning, but he was an adult, I didn’t check in on him.  There was one moment of panic, that maybe he was in his room and was “gone”, the image of him with a gun flashing through my mind.  Michael was home, so I called him immediately.  I didn’t want him unprepared for what he may find, even as strong as he is.  So, I let him know about the call, and asked him to please check in the room.  I stayed on the phone, not breathing, but still driving down I-10 until he said “he’s not in there.”   But he also said that Austin’s computer was there.  Austin didn’t go many places without that.  His things all seemed to be there, no clothes missing, all 25 pairs of shoes in place (possibly an exaggeration, but he did love shoes).  
I called my mom, while still driving down I-10 and heading home, sure that I could piece the puzzle together and all would be fine.  I just needed to get home.  The closer I got, the faster I drove.  When my mom picked up, I quickly told her about the phone call.  It was another moment where I thought that it would become less real instead of more, after all, Mom solves everything.  Even when she doesn’t solve it, she brings rationale and helps you solve it.  I wish Mom could have solved this.  She stayed calm and asked questions, wanting to know all that Kelly told me, all that anyone knew.  There is a somewhat unfounded- okay, completely founded up until that time- thought in our family that I can’t handle difficult things.  It’s not that I can’t so much, as I just don’t.  I’ve always lived by a thought that if you ignore the issue, it may just go away.  Tasks and jobs I handle great, just once the decision of how to handle the issue is out of the way.  This is one of many things that has changed since Day 1.  
Mom and I discussed calling the police.  I had a strong belief that if I called and reported Austin missing, that he would come home in the middle of it, or shortly after, and be mad about it.  He would be mad that I thought he wasn’t responsible enough to handle himself, mad that we had looked through his things, mad that I had talked with Kelly.  Or laugh.  He laughed a lot.  I also had the completely untrue belief that most of the country has, that you need to wait 48 hours before law enforcement will take a missing persons report.  I have one other memory from years past, of a missing persons report trying to be filed on a loved one.  I recall police saying that it hadn’t been 48 hours, if they weren’t back by then, to call them (thankfully, they were found safe).  
Regardless, it was decided that we should call, and since he lived with me, I needed to be the one to do it.  I did some quick checking online as soon as I arrived home, and saw on the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office website that the person didn’t have to be gone 48 hours.  I also read that being suicidal was one of the possible reasons to get action quicker.  While I still wasn’t convinced, I called and said I needed to file a report.  
While waiting, I decided I needed to bite the bullet so to speak, and call my Dad.  I let him know what was going on, and he was immediately concerned and looking for something to do, something to help quickly solve the question of where he was.  I called my Mom back as well, letting her know I had called the police and would let her know what they said after.  She tried to stay calm, but I think it was tough.  I believe that they both had a similar reaction as I did- a bit of concern, but a belief that he would walk through the door shortly.  We all felt there was no real need to panic.  
The house was oddly quiet without the sound of the television or constant chatter and noises of Drew that normally filled the house.  There were no distractions, the house was very clean because we had just put it on the market to sell and had cleared all the clutter away.  I just waited.  
A uniformed officer arrived about an hour later.  I can clearly picture him standing, he refused the offer of a chair, which meant I stood also.  Michael paced around the house.  The officer stood at the end of my kitchen counter with his laptop turned away from me.  As soon as I gave the basic info, he pulled Austin’s information up and got wide eyed.  That alarmed me.  I remember telling the officer that I was aware that he had some outstanding tickets, and had a court date coming up for his recent arrest, but that it was all misdemeanor things.  I hoped I was right, hoped there wasn’t more we didn’t know about.  He confirmed for me that nothing serious was on his record, and nothing from the past week.  He had just been surprised at the number of tickets a 26 year old could accumulate, with several of them yet unpaid.   While the officer was nice, I instantly felt like he was being nice out of respect for me, while writing Austin off as a troublemaker.  
It was in the moment of the officer giving me the unsaid impression that he had no real concern, that it hit me- this was real, there was real reason for concern, Austin was gone.  I turned from being the passive report filer who thought there ‘may’ be a problem, to serious about it.  I gave the officer details of the recent discussions Austin had with Kelly, intent on convincing the officer that Austin was suicidal and they needed to take this seriously.  I gave him details of Austin’s life over the past three years, from breakup to job changes, to constant physical pain, all in an attempt to get the officer to understand.  As I convinced the officer, I convinced myself too.  Looking at just the facts, this could be bad.  Looking back, I had no idea how bad, no idea where this would lead and how our lives would change.  But at least I finally understood that it was real.  
The officer left after telling me that it would probably take about 10 days for a detective to be assigned to his case.  He emphasized that our family should take the lead in looking for him.  He suggested calling everyone we knew who he could have been in contact with, but not much else.  When he walked out of the door, while I still thought Austin may just show up, I knew we needed to start taking action.
Calls to the few contacts of Austin’s we had yielded nothing.  So Day 1 ended.  No one slept much in our family that night, or for many nights to come.  But, being the one person in the world who can sleep anytime anywhere, I did eventually drift off.  I woke repeatedly, always hoping I’d heard the lock turning, but never actually hearing it happen.  Michael stayed mostly quiet, but didn’t sleep much either.
The Early Weeks 
I won’t try to detail the steps and actions that everyone took.  There is so much that I won’t remember, or do justice.  I only know for sure, what happened from my perspective.  There were so many people involved, so many people that we will be eternally grateful to.  They may think they did no good because they didn’t find him.  They are wrong.  If you’re reading this and you helped in any small way, you did us a world of good.  You gave us hope.
By the morning after the report was filed, my Mom and a few family members from the Mexico Beach area (who had been gathered together for vacation) were on their way to my house.  By that morning, I also later learned that my Dad was tromping through woods all around my house.  Since Austin had been wandering in those wooded areas just days before, we all felt that if he had taken his life, that’s where he would be found.  No one wanted my Dad in the woods alone, his physical health wasn’t suited for it.  Thankfully, he had wonderful friends who stepped in and made sure he wasn’t alone after those initial hours.  We all knew that regardless of his health or physical ability, he would be there.  I loved him for that.  
Michael and I went to work, but he stayed as close to home as possible.  I tried to work, but I’m sure I wasn’t very productive.  I didn’t know what I should be doing, but I knew it wasn’t at the office.  But since I didn’t know what I should be doing, and I wasn’t comfortable asking for time off to search, I stayed.  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing that I was able to continue on, or maybe it shows my previously mentioned pension for ignoring issues.  But it’s what I did, right or wrong.  
My Mom, two aunts and two cousins arrived that evening.    It was so nice to see them, that for a few brief moments, I almost forgot why they were there.  These are women of action though, so they got to work.  A flyer was designed quickly and taken to a print shop for copies to be made.  Every taxi company in town was called since we believed he may have planned to take a taxi to take care of the tickets.  His room was searched.  Boy was that a mess.  I was actually pretty mad with him over that since we had just put the house on the market and his room was not ready for prime time, or even close.  So not only was it searched, it was cleaned.  Homeless shelters were called.  Hospitals were called.  Media outlets were called and sent flyers.  
Speaking of the media…. Ah, the media and the misconceptions that the public has about the media and how missing persons cases are presented to the public.  We quickly learned, much to our naïve surprise, that it was all about the ‘story’ and not much about the person.  Austin was a 26 year old male, and though he had a sweet baby face with dimples, wasn’t too much of a story.  So getting any coverage was very tough.  There are cases that the public becomes wary of, with children or young women constantly shown.  They may have interviews on all the national networks.  They may have signs made and displayed at businesses and churches.  Their family members may turn down requests for interviews because so many come in.  That wasn’t the case with us.  That isn’t the case with most missing persons, but especially men.  Our family, and so many more we’ve met, had to beg for coverage.  We literally begged reporters and producers to show Austin’s face.  Because we didn’t give up, we did get a few interviews and did get his face shown a few times.  We were fortunate, so many don’t.      
We weren’t getting any information from the calls being made, so we decided to start getting flyers out.  Austin’s friend Kelly stayed involved and got a friend to make many more copies of the flyer than we thought we’d need.  In those early days we thought this was a sprint, didn’t realize it was a marathon.  Oh how I laugh at our innocence now.  While Dad and others continued foot searches of the wooded areas, we took to the streets with flyers. 
We actually had fun, which I know sounds odd.  At one point, I was in a vehicle with my cousin Mark driving, and friends Bart and Jason with us.  We had grown up spending time together in the summer, playing till all hours of the night.  So we laughed together about old times, about funny memories, and more.  I spoke earlier of irrational fears, and another surfaced with the flyers.  I had a real fear of going in places and asking to hang a flyer.  It makes no sense, I have no idea what ‘terrible’ thing I thought might happen, but the thought of doing it made me queasy.  Thankfully, we had Bart with us.  Bart knows no stranger and I’m pretty confident, has no fears.  Our differences can be listed out for miles, but I appreciate that quality in him.  While we went one direction, others in mom’s family went other ways.  
While we did that, others were organizing more ground search help, primarily friends of my Dad.  Word was also starting to spread and friends had started to venture out into areas on their own.  Often, we didn’t even learn about that until much later.  Everyone who knew about it wanted to help.  For some reason, I kept it quiet with our circles, and I honestly don’t know why.  It might have been a belief that if I started telling people it would become more real.  I think it had more to do with being confident we’d find answers quickly somehow, and didn’t need everyone involved.  (Here’s another spot to laugh at my ignorance, I won’t count them, it would be too self defeating).  
I did pray a lot through these early days.  Probably more than I had in years, even though my faith was active and strong I thought.  It was strong; it had just never been tested quite like this.  It was during this time that I started to think that I needed to redefine hope for myself.  It had always been a lightweight word, conjuring images of things I wanted and prayers answered in very specific ways.  The hope I had in my life was more about a bright sunny spin on life, a belief that ‘it will all work out’ than something real that had depth and meaning.   I wasn’t yet sure that I knew fully what was blooming, but I started to have a change in my heart.

Justice For All

We just celebrated Independence Day, a time to be thankful for the land we live in, where freedom and justice define us.  A land of opportunity, a land of bounty.

While celebrating, the country shifted it’s attention to the biggest new story in months, the trial of Casey Anthony.  As anyone with TV or internet knows, she was found not guilty and it seemed as though the thread of who we are as a country unraveled in some people’s minds.  Justice hadn’t prevailed.  Freedom wasn’t deserved.

I first heard about the verdict from someone in my office, who walked in and said “a travesty has occurred in Orlando” and I read reaction from many people on Facebook later.  All were outraged.  Some at the jury, some at the prosecution, some at our system.  Within a short time, groups and pages had formed, with invitations to ‘sign the Caylee petition’ and ‘leave your porch lights on for Caylee’ among others.  Now I became outraged.

I have to say it.  I’m outraged by the numbers of people doing meaningless things in the name of Caylee, even though I know the intentions are good.  But I don’t believe that leaving a porch light on will help anyone, but will allow people to feel good for a few minutes that they’ve done something in a situation they feel powerless in.  I’m outraged by the media coverage of every minute of this trial, when there are parents of missing children who beg for help and can’t get their faces shown.  I’m outraged not that someone didn’t report their child missing, but that thousands do and nothing is done.

On the other hand, I’m not encouraged by millions of people turning on a porch light, but am by the hundreds who will be out volunteering on a search for someone’s missing loved one tomorrow.  I’m not encouraged by the person who started a petition to make not reporting a missing child a felony, but by the parents who have lobbied congress for years to pass bills that change how a missing persons case is handled once reported. 

Don’t get me wrong, Caylee’s death was a tragedy and so very sad.  But if each person who was so impacted by this case spent just as much time looking at the faces of the missing, we might have a surge of children found.  A million porch lights on is nice.  One missing child brought home because of the caring hearts of those moved by this case?  Now that would be a way to honor Caylee.  

Missing Children and Adults in Jacksonville and Ways to Help

Missing Children and Adults Nationwide Listed and Support for Families of Missing

Missing Children and Adults Nationwide Listed and Search Volunteer Needs