When the Number is Zero
Why the Retreat is For You
Today, when I came home from work and checked the mail, there was a letter from the Social Security Administration Office. I remembered this letter from years past, having seen the same one arrive at various times of year for my husband, my 19-year-old son, and for me. They arrive several months before our birthdays, and tell how much money was earned each year, going many years back for the addressee. I’m sure many of you have seen these letters.
I was thinking it might be for my younger son, whose birthday is in May, or perhaps mine, as my birthday is in June. But it was not addressed to either one of us. It was addressed to Jason, my older son, who will have been missing for 8 years this June 13th. His birthday is also in June, and in fact is two days after mine. I went into labor with him on the evening of my birthday, a night I will never forget.
Seeing his name on the envelope startled me. I hadn't considered the possibility they would still send this letter. It is also quite rare now for any mail to come that is addressed to Jason. The memories came crashing back in: memories of the fears, hurt, and anxiety surrounding his disappearance. The name on the envelope was a painful reminder of the passage of time without an answer. It was a slap in the face; a forced look at the cold, hard, reality of living in the not knowing.
I ripped open the envelope and unfolded the letter to reveal the annual earnings data. Rows for every year from 2002 on each revealed a zero. I scanned down the column for 2008. What if there was a number there? Anything would do, even a small number. It could mean that Jason was out there somewhere. I turned away and considered not looking at it because I was sure the number in the 2008 row would be zero, just as it had been the year before.
I had to look. I had to continue to face everything head on, and deal with whatever the answer was, or, in our case, lack of any answer whatsoever.
I turned back to the letter and scanned to the row for 2008. The number was zero.
I quickly folded up the letter and placed it back in the envelope. It felt different in my hands, perhaps heavier, and I imagined that there was now a large red stamp on the front that read:
YES, YOUR SON IS STILL MISSING.
I laid the envelope down on the table where my husband would find it when he came home.
The number inside was zero and nothing was going to change that.
The only thing that could change was my reaction to it. I could choose how it would affect me and how I would deal with it. I would take all that I’ve learned about coping and find the key to what works for me. I could and would go on, no matter how many “envelopes with zeroes” presented themselves.
We all have reminders of our missing loved ones. Some might be like the envelope with the zero inside. Some will be more disappointing and hurtful than others. Most will come much more frequently than once per year, and others may always be with us. There are frustrations and real fears on top of the reminders.
When the number is zero, what will you do? How can you handle fear of the zeroes? What if zeroes are all you ever see? How will you go on?
Some of your answers lie in having the keys you’ll receive at the Keys to Healing retreat hosted by Project Jason. The families-only retreat will help you find the answers to those questions, and many more.
The main goals of the retreat are for family members to gain an understanding of the body's reaction to the trauma of missing a loved one, to recognize and understand the emotions which surface, and learn methods of coping. Family members will also benefit from meeting and networking with others who can relate to this unique tragedy. Classes offered during the retreat will cover all aspects of living in the "not knowing," with a focus on mental, spiritual, and physical healing.
The retreat is open to adult family members of missing persons who reside anywhere in North America, and will take place at a spacious, comfortable, and scenic retreat center near Omaha, NE.
Note: A professional filmmaker, who is making a documentary about Project Jason, will be at the retreat. She will interview you only if you are comfortable doing so. She and her crew will remain in the background and will not be present during the core classes to maintain your privacy and comfort.
This is an outstanding awareness opportunity for your missing loved one, so we encourage you to be a part of “Project Jason, A Voice for the Missing.”
You can read more about the film here: http://projectjason.org/forums/index.php?topic=5855
Learn more about the retreat and how to register:
Thanks for sharing your story.
Your story about the social security earnings not being a 0 could also indicate that his identity was stolen as well. Something that you would want to check out as well.
Losing a son and then his identity stolen on top of it would be a double-whammy.
~~~~ There is a fine line between being a busybody and a sleuth.~~~~
Missing adult cases daunting
By Karen Jeffrey
April 01, 2009
It was a warm night on June 30, 1996. Patricia Minassian finished bathing her 2-year-old son during a family vacation in Bourne. Minassian told her in-laws she was heading to the car wash and was never seen again.
Her locked car was found a day later in the parking lot of Cahoon Hollow Beach in Wellfleet. There was no sign of the 37-year-old Hingham mother of three, no suicide note. She simply vanished. Her body has never been found. Her family doesn't know her fate.
Another family may be waiting to know the identity of the person whose bones were found last weekend in an East Falmouth cranberry bog. Police are awaiting examination of dental records and DNA tests to determine whether the remains belong to a young East Falmouth man who was reported missing last June following a bout of depression.
But many missing person cases are never resolved. There are more than 40,000 unidentified human remains held in police and medical examiner property rooms across the United States, according to the FBI's National Crime Information Center.
"When adults go missing in this country, all too often their cases go unsolved," said Kelly Jolkowski of Omaha, Neb., whose son Jason, 19, disappeared in June 2001 as he walked to school.
Unlike missing children cases, which usually receive police and media attention, missing adult cases are often not taken as seriously. Or the cases grow cold and fall through the cracks as police move on to other investigations or retire, Jolkowski said.
Few Cape police departments have pending missing persons cases, but those contacted for this story said they file missing persons reports with the National Crime Information Center when the situation warrants — usually a person at risk of death or injury.
A federal law passed during the Clinton administration known as Kristen's Law requires police to report a missing adult when the individual is suspected of being a victim of foul play; however, there is no requirement to file other missing adult cases with the federal agency.
The majority of missing person cases reported to the Yarmouth police are runaways or people with mental health problems, Yarmouth police Lt. Steven Xiarhos said.
Barnstable police have 17 open missing person cases, the oldest of which is the 1998 disappearance of Stephen Queen, who police suspect may have been murdered. There may be more missing persons in town whose cases began before the police department made widespread use of computers or were forgotten as investigators retired, Barnstable police Sgt. Sean Sweeney said.
In 2008, the Barnstable Police Department received 84 missing person reports, Sweeney said. In some instances, one person accounted for more than one report. One young woman was reported missing eight times between February and December last year, according to Sweeney. Each time, she returned home or was found. She has been reported missing again, and her name is one of the 17 open cases in 2009, he said.
Missing adult cases often become cold cases because small police departments lack the manpower and money to investigate, and missing person cases often cross jurisdictions, Wellfleet Police Chief Richard Rosenthal said.
A police department in Massachusetts can receive a missing person report while a police department halfway across the country struggles to identify remains linked to the case, he said. "What is there to connect them? There is a real need for a national central database," he said.
When Minassian's car was discovered in Wellfleet, the town had 11 police officers including the chief to investigate the case.
"There was only so much we could do. We called in the state police and essentially handed the case to them, although it remains an open case on our books," Rosenthal said.
Minassian's name, description and photograph are still listed on the Massachusetts State Police Web site of missing people, as well as on numerous other Internet sites dedicated to missing persons.
"There is no way to come up with an accurate number of how many adults are missing in the United States," said Jolkowski, who started a nonprofit organization, www.projectjason.org, to help families of the missing.
She is pushing for legislation that would require states to establish uniform reporting criteria in missing persons cases and mandate reporting to a national data base. But it's an uphill battle, she said.
Last year, Congress approved spending $40 million a year for the next five years on the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In contrast, the National Center for Missing Adults has not received federal money since 2005 because funding legislation was allowed to expire, said volunteer Thomas Lauth. He spent 15 years as an investigator for the National Center for Missing Adults and now is one of four volunteers struggling to keep it going.
Lauth said the U.S. Department of Justice is trying to create a national clearinghouse of information called NamUs, the National Missing and Unidentified Person System. NamUs includes two databases: one containing records on unidentified human remains, the other containing missing persons reports, Lauth said. But NamUs will only be as good as the information it receives and the funding to keep it going, he said.
Kelly, I am so sorry! I know that each and everyday must be an uphill battle. This little reminder that indeed Jason is still missing must be very painful. I mean that emotionally as well as physically. Only once did I feel a sorrow so deep that I literally though my heart may break and that was related to the death of my elderly grandfather. I would guess the pain you feel at times is beyond what I can imagine. Although I do not know you personally, every time I see your name here on websleuths I say a little prayer for you and for Jason. I pray that one day you will have answers!
Last edited by sleuthin4fun; 04-02-2009 at 10:21 PM.
Sigh. Moving story.
But cleaning the forum to the information that is supposed to be here.