I wasn’t expecting the tears to flow down my cheeks as I was driving to Imperial last Saturday morning to help hundreds search for the 14 year old Yglesias boy who has been missing for three weeks. It wasn’t my first plan and the emotions were not anticipated. I was supposed to be at training in San Diego, but it had been cancelled. Now I was on my way, like hundreds of others, to search for sadness.
That was not my intention. I just wanted to help, show support and do something positive in a pretty negative situation. Having a child disappear, die or possibly being kidnapped are all devastating ideas. I was praying for a miracle, and wanted to come to the aid of a family in pain. I had just gone through my own minor mayhem. The week before, there had been a shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. That is where my oldest son works and while the drama was unfolding, when I called, there was no response to his cell phone. Although, I knew he was safe, until there is some communication, it is a scary situation. He knew three of the victims, heard shots and was scurrying to safety, although at the moment, he and co-workers did not know what was really going on.
As my group spread out and walked through a damp field of overgrown Bermuda grass, I reflected on the fact that if we did find something, it might be bad news. I have been in the unique position of not knowing the whereabouts or welfare of one of my children, I pondered the fact that if we found anything, it might be a clue to his whereabouts, but more likely, something sad.
More times in my life, sadness has found me. There was a period of three years, when I was a teen where I had 5 friends die. Mostly from car accidents, but little did I know that it was training days for a life-long career in social work. Social workers search for sadness and help people work it through. Joy can come in the morning, but probably not tomorrow.
Although we did not find anything, at least my group, we were successful. We had tried. We showed the family and friends that they were not alone. I even ran into a friend, who had lost a son a decade before, and shared that he could be very helpful to this family, more so than professional counseling. Sometimes, if you have been though a painful experience (divorce, disability, drug life, etc.), you are uniquely equipped to help another struggling traveler. Your past pain is often preparation for helping others. Many have graduated from the college of coping, and now are uniquely qualified to serve others. Experience can be a great teacher, if you are open to wisdom.
As I finish this essay, the search for a body may be over. I don’t know what the future holds. The next may just be a search for support. Thank God for the many family and friends who care.