Archives for posts with tag: missing child

My life changed forever the minute my son, Carl, disappeared and my then six year old daughter (Ava) told me she thought she was at fault for his disappearance and began talking of suicide. Fifteen years after his disappearance, my son came to me in a dream which lead me to find him. He had been murdered at the time of his disappearance by a Dispatcher for the Sheriff’s Department who investigated the murder! Ava’s suicidal tendencies became more frequent…especially after we found out what had happened to Carl.

Ava was successful in her final attempt, as promised, after her estranged husband told her he had a girlfriend and, even after her pleas for him to help her through the transition and warnings that she was suicidal, he chose to ignore the warnings from me and others.

The night Ava died, I was with my mother in the emergency room with my mom…she was dying…too. I was always the closest one to her (and her to me) so I was the only one to take care of both of them. Ava was 2500 miles away. Mom was 100 miles away. I was awakened at 6:00 A.M. to my new horrible truth. Ava was dead. Mom was sick. I was alone in it all.

When I spoke with my therapist about how I felt, I was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD. Some of the symptoms were: I felt like I’d had a stroke and couldn’t remember words; I disassociated; I felt as if  my skin had been removed from my body; I couldn’t leave the house for any reason; and when I did, all I wanted to do was scream out, “DON’T YOU PEOPLE KNOW SHE’S DEAD?”

Montana became my lifeline. Literally. She and I are inseparable. She has traveled with me about 90,000 miles over her eight plus years and has been welcomed in hundreds of facilities since her Service Dog status. I’ve only had slight hick-ups but once told of her status, never refused.

I’m on this trip four years after Ava’s death in the hope that I can move another baby step forward with reconnecting with loved ones who live in the West and to see the places Ava and I had visited together as well as find new ones to hold dear with her in my heart. Plus, driving back roads has always been a healing exercise.

Why do I tell you all this? The groundwork for yesterday’s crescendo.

We went to Venice Beach. I hadn’t been there for at least eight years and I wouldn’t have gone had I known how nasty it had gotten. I wouldn’t have put myself, Montana nor my sweet daughter-by-another mother through it.

So many filthy, doped-up homeless people; crowds; confusion; more filth; a thousand bicycles & skateboards aggressively darting to and fro around us tormenting us all but especially Montana; coupled with great re-b0nding, understanding and love.

To end my visit in LA we decided to visit a middle eastern restaurant…Lebanese to be specific. We all walk in…my daugher-by-another mother, her husband, Montana and me. We were told at the door that they would not serve us because of Montana. I quickly corrected their mistake and a learned waiter seated us. The greeter called the owner (I knew that’s what she was doing) and approached us again as she spoke with the owner telling us  we were not welcome in their establishment even though they understood the ramifications of their actions.

When she told us to leave, I refused and said I wanted to speak directly with the owner at which point she handed me the phone. The woman on the other end of the line immediately started shouting in broken English that she did not have to abide by the laws of this country and other things I couldn’t understand. She rattled on incessantly not allowing me to speak and continued to speak.

The owner came to the restaurant and continued in this manner. I finally really lost it when she said, “This is California and I don’t have to let you stay here. I don’t have to abide by this law!”

I replied over her continued rant, “I don’t know what country you’re from but you’re living in the United States and California was made a state in 1850. This is a FEDERAL law you’re violating. I’ll be lodging a complaint which could result in a $10,000 fine against you.”

The owner’s parting words to me were, “You don’t have a disability! Get out!”

I was so shaken that I couldn’t eat. I was nauseous and horribly upset. All I wanted to do is be in my own home…3000 miles away. I knew this could happen because having PTSD is triggered by several very personal things. Could be loud noises, confusion, arguing, and many other triggers. Thank goodness I’d been proactive regarding the possibility of being confronted by this kind of stupidity and booked myself  to stay in a lovely and friendly AirBnB apartment by the PCH or else I wouldn’t have made it back before collapsing in tears for the whole remainder of the night.

It’s only now, over 24 hours after the fact that I can even write about it. I’m not proofing…just writing…puking, actually…the story because, for some reason, I’ve been chosen to TEACH people that just because you don’t SEE the mental imbalance, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist! DO YOU ALWAYS SEE CANCER? NO!

NONE OF AVA’S FRIENDS KNEW SHE WAS SUICIDAL SO DID THAT MAKE IT UNTRUE? IS SHE REALLY ALIVE SOMEWHERE? OR IS SHE DEAD?

If you want to help support our website avascorner.org  [Ava’s Corner, Inc., a non-profit public charity & 501(c)3] which I stared after Ava’s death to provide one-stop-shopping for education on mental imbalances and creative coping skills, please share this post so others will benefit from this horrific exercise I experienced. I never chose this path. Quite the reverse…I was chosen. But, if it were my choice…I’d chose to have my daughter back.

Email me if you want the name of the restaurant.

TODAY? I shared some of my story with my new friend…the lady who owned the AirBnB apartment where I stayed. Thanks for listening. You and my closest and dearest helped me get okay so I could drive to Vegas Baby today…swollen eyes, headache, broken heart and all.

These pictures are AFTER the LA cluster expressway nightmares and finally got on I-15 North. Temps from 87 all the way up to 113 degrees!

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The good news? I’m staying with another wonderful daughter-by-another mother! I’m safe with her. She made sure of it before I left by telling me she had my room all ready for me and Montana.

Now I can look forward to seeing more of Ava’s friends and my other Chirrens.

HAPPY TAILS!

It’s the crystal clear blue October sky which comes to north Georgia after  cooling temperatures start its magic on the trees causing their leaves to change  into brilliant autumnal colors of red, gold, yellow, orange (and everything in  between), when the air has been swept clean by the blustery wind that  produces that particular blue  matching my son’s eyes. For the 15 years he was  missing, it was this blue October sky that helped me feel connected to him.  Strange, but not, that it was on such a day with such a sky that we buried him.

Not the best picture of his eyes but close enough for now. Can't look any more through old photos right now.

With the passing of each day of the 15 year wait to find out what had happened  to my son, I was sure that the “system” would fail him. I was not disappointed.  The system failed all of us… miserably. Not only did the largest county police  department in Georgia botch his missing person’s information on Georgia  Crime Information Center (GCIC), but they actually removed his name from  the only link I had to the world to his whereabouts. They also altered his  physical appearance on the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) when I  protested his removal forcing them to re-establish his profile on their network.

The irony? If my son had been 2 months younger, I wouldn’t have had to solely  rely on the government “system” as my only source to help me locate Carl. I  would have been able to use National Center of Missing and Exploited  Children to locate him. The “system” never asked me for a photo, childhood  fingerprints, dental records or anything which would actually assist “them” in  locating my son who was merely 45 minutes away from me the whole damn  time buried as a “John Doe” in a pauper’s grave.

What had happened to Carl started to unravel in the most unlikely way on  Saturday, September 11, 1999 at 8:00 AM.

Carl was sitting in my lap as I rocked him like you would a little, scared boy. I  felt his breath on my face and the weight of his 18-year-old body on my lap. I  urgently told him telepathically over and over how much I loved him as I  stared, unblinkingly, into those October-blue-sky eyes of his. I was holding  my  boy in my arms and that was all that mattered. I told him I didn’t care  where  he’d been or what he’d been doing. It was my body’s rocking motion,  tears and a mother’s pain strangling my breath which jerked me from sleep with the wonderful feel of my child’s 6 foot, 170 pound body sitting in my lap.

It was the bitter-sweet dream of my missing 18-year-old son and my immediate  conversation with my daughter (then 22) which triggered me into action once  again in search of him. My daughter told me she’d had a dream a couple of  days before where Carl had come to her as well. It was then she reminded me  of my associate at work who was dating a P.I. That was as good a place to start  as any.

I emailed my associate saying I’d had a dream and would she ask her  boyfriend, Ed, to assist us in our search for my lost son.  He called me the next  day.

From the onset of our conversation, Ed confidently said, “I think I can help you  put some closure to this. You really need closure”. Even though I knew next to  nothing about Ed, I “knew” he could and would be the only person to help  connect me with Carl again. How? 100% instinct… or God’s hand guiding me.

In our first phone conversation, I described Carl’s appearance, approximate  date of disappearance, where I’d last seen him and under what circumstances,  what I knew of his lifestyle, what I had done in my search for him over the last  15 years, etc.  And, by Thursday (9/16/99), Ed asked if I could meet him on  Saturday (9/18/99) to look at a composite drawing done by a famous police  artist to see if there was any resemblance between a “John Doe” found about  the time of my son’s disappearance in Ed’s hometown of Barnesville and my  son.

Ed had known about this “John Doe” as he’d been the Chief of Police of  Barnesville, Georgia when John Doe’s body had been found outside the city  limits in an abandoned house. Ed’s wife at the time, Rene, had been the lead    investigator of the Lamar  County Sheriff Department’s homicide    investigation team. And, in those 15 years, Ed had gladly left the area; his now  ex-wife, Rene, had gone to work for the GBI and had recently rejoined the  Sheriff’s office wherein she immediately started working their “cold case” files.

To prepare for the meeting, I needed to have the last known photo of Carl  enlarged 400% so as to accurately compare his likeness with “John Doe’s”  pencil composite drawing. All I had to work with was a picture taken by my  dad of  Carl, my daughter and me in April, 1984. This was the photo I showed  to many passersby in town during my lone search for Carl the long, hot  summer of 1984. I’d moved to Mom’s to hopefully add some stability to Ava’s 6-year-old life and so it was after I’d put Ava to bed that I’d go downtown looking  for any clue as to his whereabouts not knowing anywhere else to look. Having  to examine the photo closely was a painful reminder of my failure to find my  lost child. I had looked at it every single day for 15 years but not like I did on  this day.

Carl, Ava and me April 1984

As I pulled the photo out of my wallet, the exercise served as a painful reminder  of the lost third musketeer, lost years, lost love, lost child. Looking at it had  always brought tears to my eyes and a great pain to my heart but when I  experienced the full force of his sole image roll out of the copier in 400%  enlarged full-living color, I started crying.

I had somewhat prepared the kind lady at the photo shop assisting me by  explaining why I was in no shape to operate the simplest of machines at this  moment. As I fumbled for the  money I owed, my heart remained gripped in  pain from the after-image of seeing that enlargement of my beautiful child’s  face and from not knowing his fate.  As I left, this wonderful woman said as I  ran from the store, “God bless you. You’ll be in my prayers.” Her words echoed  through my soul as I raced to the privacy of my car to totally break down.

Saturday morning, 9/18/99, I awoke with fear, nausea, relief and pain all  shrouded in a sort of dislocated sense of non-reality (or surreal-ness – I’m still  not sure). My man-friend drove me to the pre-designated Jonesboro meeting  place with the enlarged photo of Carl staring back at me as each mile  brought  me closer and closer to knowing… or not.

Barnesville's John Doe

As I compared the pencil composite drawing of the Barnesville “John Doe” to  my son’s color image, a strange thing happened. As an art major in college  with an art  history minor, I guess, for me, it was somewhat normal for my art  history training to kick in. I kept staring at the drawing, reaching for where I’d  seen it before as if I was taking that all  important final exam… searching my  mind to identify the artist, time period and medium. Finally, when I was ready  to accept the task at hand, I was able to put the “student” aside and take the  features from each and compare  them. The hair was similarly parted in the  middle. The eyes had a slight droop on the outer edge crowned with proud  brows. The noses were the strong, straight Roman type. The ear  size and  placement was the same on the head.

“What about eye color?” I grasped explaining to Ed that Carl’s eyes were as blue as the sky on a clear October day. Why couldn’t anybody confirm eye color for me of this “John Doe”?

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