When you lose a child, every news article about missing children grabs your attention and then beats the breath from you. All week I was captivated by the story of the two missing teenagers in Florida whose capsized boat had been found, empty. I agonized for the families of the lost boy boaters. Two more heartbroken mothers.
Losing a child to the sea is different from losing a child to leukemia. I got to hold my daughter and watch as the part of me that could sing disappeared into nowhere. I waited, so still, like she might reappear. But wherever she was, her body was empty. The absence was so physical; I knew she was gone.
If you don’t see the vacant body of the one you love, it is difficult to convince yourself that he is not somewhere out there still. I look to the heavens and the night sky to talk to the daughter that I miss but no longer worry about. These other mothers will look to the sea as long as they live. They will wonder and worry the rest of their time about their missing boys.
Where are they now? This is the question bereaved mothers ask. And a mother who has not had to witness the vacancy of the body that housed her child will hold the hope that he is not dead. He is only missing.
And how different is that from the thoughts of the mother of a grown son off in the world? Where is he now? Where is the little boy who I chased on the beach, the toddler on my lap who gazed lovingly at my face as I read stories, the baby boy who only wanted to be held by me? Where has he gone?