Un-intended blessings.
I'm not wholly sure that this is the appropriate forum for this post, but it seemed the least in-appropriate.

I would just like to thank and encourage everyone here for the work they are doing, and for the concerted effort that is made to keep missing persons cases from being forgotten.

I cannot comment on how helpful this all must be to the people who are missing their loved ones, but I can offer the slightly unusual perspective of having been a missing person, and tell you that the continued evidence that other people care is deeply heartening.

When I was 19 years old, I got a job working with a traveling sales company, and became effectively homeless - I depended on the occasional collect call to keep in touch with my family. Until one day I tried to call and there was a block on the phone against receiving collect calls.

Shortly after this I met a trucker at one of the motels that the sales company was putting us up at, and left the company and hitch-hiked about with truckers. I was on the road - and completely out of contact with my family- for about half a year.

When I finally came home it was almost five in the morning - a very cold early spring day -- the trucker I was hitching with had dropped me off a couple hours earlier at a near-by gas station, and I had waited until I figured it wasn't too early to wake people up. The light was on at the back of the house, and I walked up the walk past the living room window to the back door, and I could see my mother sitting and reading her books. I remember being surprised she was awake so early, and how old she looked.

I can't describe what it was like that first morning back - it's all a blur -- I remember crawling into bed with my little sister, and waking up to her pinching me because she wanted to be sure I was really there and not just a dream.

We all found out later that the collect call block had been ordered by my step-father. My mother had never known about it, and to her and my sister and brother, I was just gone. My sister tells me that Mom had just stopped sleeping, which is why she was up so early that morning.

I was never formally registered by LE as a missing person, though my sister did try to report me missing - because she was under-aged at the time LE refused to take her report. My mother has told me that she wanted to involve LE, but that her husband adamantly refused, claiming it would make him lose his job.

Part of my decision to come home came from seeing all of the posters and signs for other missing people while I was hitch-hiking. I had *no idea* how distressed my family was about my lack of communication, nor how seriously it was affecting them.

If it had not been for the constant reminder of all the different signs and posters I saw, I don't know if it would ever have occurred to me to go home, and get back in touch. Strangers caring enough about other strangers to keep their faces where I could see them helped me to believe that going home was possible, even though as far as I knew, I wasn't welcome.

Please keep up the good work - there are un-intended blessings in it.


2011

I originally wrote this post in 2006, and wanted to share it again now that the holiday season is here. Again, I thank everyone here who puts so much effort into making sure that we don't forget the missing. I know I can't fathom the pain of having a missing loved one, but it was the proof of how much love people have for their family members that gave me the courage to go home.

Elicere