I’m getting married in a matter of days. I’ve just moved in with my fiancée and we’re building a house. I started a new job. I’ve been renting vacation homes, revising floral arrangements, finding new DJs, figuring out hair stylists and creating and revising seating charts and timelines like they’re going out of style. I’m slowly but surely failing at my wedding nutrition plan and my days start at approximately 6 a.m. and end around 8 p.m.….just in time to eat dinner, attempt to keep the house from looking condemned, do my volunteer Board work, finish these ridiculous escort cards (that go with the ever-changing seating chart!) and send emails to a smattering of people that I’ve been putting off for weeks.
Suffice it to say, I’m overwhelmed and more than a little crabby these days.
In the meantime, my cousin is missing and hasn’t been seen since Oct. 24.
I should start with a little background….
I have 15 first cousins, not including their respective spouses and significant others (there are 24 of us counting my brother, sister and I, and everyone’s husbands/wives [+1 more in a few days!]) They span a 20-year age range with the youngest being 18. Most of the cousins are younger than I, so suffice it to say I don’t know some of them that well. I’m one of the only family members on the West Coast so after I left Nebraska I didn’t get many chances to spend a ton of time with them as they grew up. Jason is the 18-year-old. I was 14 when he was born.
When I first learned that Jason was missing, I was worried. Over the next couple of days I got more and more worried. I was a little surprised at my level of concern considering that if he walked through my front door right now, Jason wouldn’t be able to pick me out among the ladies in the house. But I was still worried. I couldn’t stop thinking about him; I was saying prayers and hoping with all my might that he was found safe.
The days continued to pass by with updates from family members and I got more and more worried. I began sharing news posts and spreading the word by sharing his Missing Person poster online.
We found out that his car had been parked in the same place in Colorado for a week with no license plates and his cell phone inside. Then I started crying – and I haven’t been able to stop. The Trick or Treaters came and all I could do was cry. All I could think about was how horrific it would be to have these little children come to your door seeking candy, while search parties are out in the mountains seeking your child. I kept thinking that he could just as easily be one of ours. Once I hit 30, age became much more vague; 14, 16, 18, 24…they’re all the same to me now. They’re all just kids. And kids (especially teenagers) are crazy and don’t always think straight. Their emotions take hold, the drama sets in and life turns upside down at the drop of a hat for them. It’s hard being a teenager. I just wish they all knew that it gets better – it really does.
And then I realized that I was having my first real mom moment. I had a total meltdown. It didn’t matter how well I did or didn’t know Jason. I know his parents and I know what it’s like to have an all-consuming worry about the teenagers in the house.As the kids shouted and made messes and tried my patience, I cried even harder. All I thought was that those are the things that I would miss. The annoyances, the frustrations. Those are the kid things. And I can’t bear the thought of them just disappearing – Poof, Gone – never to be seen again. Even if they’re not my kids, I take care of them. I house them and I feed them and I put up with their bullshit. I’ve earned the right to call them mine – at least some of the time. I told them that no matter how bad they think things are – don’t ever just leave – everything gets better eventually.
I lost all motivation to finish planning the wedding, work out, stick to my nutrition plan, etc. I just want to help find Jason. I reached out to what few news contacts I have in Colorado and asked them to help, and I plan on doing the same in every state in the country is that’s what it takes. It has been well over a week since he was last seen. As of today there are leads that he may be traveling with others. So please keep an eye out for a tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, 18-year-old. And most of all….hold your children tight. Let them know how much you love them and more importantly, when they get to the age when they seem like they don’t care anymore, tell them even more. Let them know that it does get better. That the teen years are probably the worst years. But no matter what happens, life is never better without them. Never.