Etan Patz, 6 years old, was last seen leaving his SoHo home in 1979. 30 years later SoHo is now populated with high in boutiques and restaurants. The artists lofts are all but disappearing and all but a handful of art galleries have moved to Chelsea. And still the memory of Etan lives on to such an extent that on Thursday NYPD and FBI investigators descended on 127B Prince Street to search the basement of the apartment building once home to prime suspect Jose A. Ramos.
Utilities were shut down, the corner was cordoned off, and officers broke out jack hammers drills, and shovels in order to search for the body of young Eaton. The Soho of 1979 may be gone but so strong is the desire for answers as to the disappearance of young Eaton that even 30 years later police, family, friends, and even long time residents are still carrying on the search. This speaks volumes to the fact that our lives are defined as much by the people in our lives as those missing from it.
Any of the thousands of widows, mothers, fathers, and siblings of service men and women who have gone missing in action can testify to the emotional effects of suddenly having a love one disappear from their lives. "When someone is killed, there's finality, with those who are missing, there's uncertainty. It's harder to know when to give up hope and when to begin grieving." Ann Mills Griffiths, executive director of the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia sister to Vietnam MIA Lt. Commander James B. Mills of the U.S. Navy Reserves. It is the same for those who have lost loved ones outside of the carnage of war too.
It could be argued that it is the same for those who have never known important members of their family. A mother or father lost in war or to disease or simply absent leaves the same void for many children. A void that has no finality, no possible hope of closure. Our mortality to is in itself an absence, an uncertainty of what could have been or may never have been. The same day that officers descended on SoHo to continue the search for young Ethan the remains of Army Pfc. Richard E. Clapp, 19, of Seattle, Washington where discovered and began their journey home to friends and family who were still waiting for his return. Many more still wait for the lost to return in one way or another and many more wait for those that never were and never will be.
In Russia a sudden series of teen suicides have been spreading throughout the former Soviet Union. In February two 14 year old girls, holding hands, leaped from a sixteen story rooftop. They were followed by countless others who chose to follow them in death through hangings or similar leaps. These children choose to join the ranks of the lost. One can only speculate as to the reasons for their desire to commit suicide but I would be willing to say that it had something to do with the individuals missing from their own lives. Russian authorities, on the other hand, cited the absence of mental health services and social support groups in a nation still suffering under the collapse of the soviet union.
A countless number of people move through their day to day lives searching for someone who is missing. In the meantime they are surrounded by countless others just like themselves. Too few know they are not alone in this condition. Those two little girls in Russia may not have even known what individual was missing from the others life. They may never have even had the courage to ask. So, who is missing from your life?