It was supposed to be a day of Christmas light hanging and all around house fixing (you know, all the small stuff that does not seem to get done). I had promised the wife I would get it done, and I was geared up for that.
Despite a bit of a slow start (good night out with oldest daughters and friends), I was ready to go.
That’s when things got BAD. My eldest awoke and looked at the text messages she got while sleeping – and there it was – her friends autistic brother “missing since 4pm Saturday”. (lets call him Danny)After a few confirmations, there it was, a terrifying situation.
She was off within the hour – they were organizing searches to continue where it was left off last night (early Sunday morning). The wife did the errands she HAD to do, grabbed the dog, the boy, and off she went with another mother to see how they could help.
At this point I was starting to get concerned, no real coverage on CP24, AM640 or the Hamilton station FM 107.9, so no real chance of a random person hearing about this and calling police with a citing. How is this poor kid going to get found if no-one knows who to look for ? Very Poor Performance by the Media. Hours were ticking by and nothing !!!
My first trip to the hardware store took almost 2 hours and more than a half tank of gas. Second trip was another hour and a half. I met up with a few people who had heard, but I still hadn’t heard anything on the radio yet. Told everyone I saw to keep a look out, very helpful of Loblaws to make sure their staff were aware. WHY WAS THIS NOT ON THE RADIO ?? Why did I not get an email from AM640 ? Sure, they told me the Leafs won last night, but nothing about Danny.
I know what you are thinking, how can someone still do chores while a vulnerable child is missing. The truth is, I really didn’t think there was much of a chance finding someone 24 hours after going missing by just randomly driving around. The police had a plan… right ???!?! WHERE THE HELL WAS THE MEDIA COVERAGE ?????? I had to do more, something, anything, was the “slow boat to china” driving approach to getting chores done enough ? Home I went for a quick bathroom break and a fast drink of water. Thats when the wife called, everyone was meeting at the McDonalds, the police were doing a grid search, volunteers were meeting to get pics of the boy and head out en-mass, and see if we could find him. NEED TO HELP MORE! This could just as easily be my kid missing.
Night was coming fast, Danny is scared of the dark, 2nd night on his own. Take one second to think about this… mental capacity of an eight or nine year old, on his own with no money, no friends and likely not a thing in sight that would look familiar. I can’t imagine how Danny felt but the feeling of utter rage at the fact that no-one had helped this boy in over 24 hours was making me nuts.
Gathered up a bunch of flashlights, met up with the rest of the family and we then spread out. The boy and his buddy rode shotgun with me. They were a big help, and for pre-teens, very mature and committed to finding this boy who they really didn’t know, but had a loose connection to, through their respective sisters. They just wanted to help out their siblings, what a great pair of boys !
Two more hours of driving around checking industrial plazas, hopping against hope that we find this poor boy. Darkness is well upon us at this point, and the light outside was not the only thing dimming… hope was not far behind. What was the chance he got help ? None, we would know. Hiding in one of the many green spaces ? Not Likely he is afraid of the dark. Hiding in an office or warehouse building ? VERY SLIM, but not much more to keep hope alive. Need to keep checking, but the boys need to eat, and come to think of it I have not had anything since breakfast either.
Wife is an angel, she started a quick dinner for us and all the searching friends who wanted it. Now the TV was spouting about Danny missing, they even had an interview with the police. THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE LAST NIGHT !!!!!! Maybe then someone may have helped who didn’t know him.
Couple of the kids friends dropped in for some nachos and soft tacos. Mood was tensely optimistic. No-one wanted to admit that things did not look good. Clinging to the hope that somehow Danny found a building to get into, that he was too scared to leave was about the only explanation that seemed reasonable.
Not long after ‘dinner’ started, a text came in “We found him!” big pause…. is he ok? is this real ? “He is fine !” – yes it’s real, he was found in the next city, by a relative who was ‘just driving around looking’ – Thank God.
Now that I look back on it, I am even more angry that with all this technology we have at our disposal, all this consumer crap to keep us updated on sports teams, sale prices and even what our friends ‘status’ is, and we can’t even help a poor autistic boy get home.
Is it a failing of technology? or the people who use it ? decide what gets published ? If I were not personally involved, I would have gone all day without knowing this boy in my own neighbourhood was missing. How do we ever expect to help others around the world if we can’t even help those closest to us ?
My words are not those of an author, and I am still not happy with this getting my frustration and anger and now relief across as well as I want, but I needed to write this down, and maybe, just maybe it will let me sleep better and prevent what I presume will be a night of dreams of my kids missing.