10/03/05 The All-American Girl Conclusion
If things had happened as planned, Maura and Billy would have been married by now. Perhaps they might even have a “little Billy” on the way as Maura dreamed. Maura and Fred would have had numerous outdoor adventures together as they loved doing. Sharon would have enjoyed time with Maura, chatting over a salad and sliced tomatoes, and increasing the quality and depth of their relationship. I would have probably never heard of this “All American Girl” with the sparkling eyes and dimples.
I would rather I hadn’t “met” her, because that would mean that she was never gone from the lives, hearts, and minds of the people who love her. I’d rather there was less pain for them. It is, however, not my choice, nor theirs, to make. It is what is.
I watch these families as I work for them. I observe the phases, the high and the low points. I see me and my own story in theirs in many ways. It can be like watching a movie about yourself and your family, except that other people are playing the roles.
What is especially difficult is to make the transition from the beginning and active stages of the case to the time of waiting. In most cases, there are leads and tips early on that are followed up. When media coverage is flowing, often so do the leads. When this forward momentum comes to a halt, families are then left with being creative in keeping their missing loved one’s story alive in order to keep after that missing piece of the puzzle that is the disappearance.
This is the time when it can be easy to fall into the pit of despair. The mental and physical wear and tear may be at a high point for family members. The frustrations become magnified, as the weeks and months, and now years go on. It gets harder and harder to get media coverage and to keep the public’s interest. To my horror, I’ve even had family members tell me that someone else in their family told them to “get on with their lives and forget about the missing person”. (not in Maura’s family)
Maura’s family is getting on with their lives without Maura, but they will NEVER give up hope an give up the fight to find her.
Fred’s cousin, Norma, doesn’t mince words when it comes to this battle: “We are different people now never to be the same again. How could we be? How could we not be very different after what we have felt, heard, seen or done for the last year and a half. How could anything ever be the same? Maura is not with us.
We are a strong family to even be able to listen to what has been passed on to us about what happened to Maura, true or not. Maura is our family member, and friend, and she is obviously very much loved. She is gone and we live with wondering. There are many people who would buckle under this kind of pressure of hearing what we hear about her, to say nothing of the frustrations of dealing with the many contradictions among witnesses. Or the hope that comes with a possible sighting of Maura later having that hope dashed when it didn't turn out. Simply stated we don't intend to buckle. We intend to find out what happened to Maura. My belief is that someone out there does know what happened to her.
We will 'keep on keepin' on' in our quest to bring Maura home.”
Maura’s friend, Kate, said: “The whole situation has made me more aware of other missing people and the signs that I see up all over the place that otherwise I would never have noticed. It is a case of "it won't happen to me or anyone I know", it just hurts. I find myself telling people I might not tell enough how much I love them and how much they mean to me.”
“I miss everything about her.” said Crystal, Billy’s sister. “I fear that I may never see her again, or get to spend time with her. Maura's missing is like a nightmare that you try to wake from, but you are trapped in your bad dream. It is sad that it took her disappearance for me to realize there are so many missing persons. I will always look at every missing poster, memorize the face, and stop to say a prayer for the missing person and their loved ones.”
Nast said it so well: “Talking about her now makes me cry. We're the same age for goodness sake, and we liked to do a lot of the same things. I saw her one day and the next she was gone. I realize that life is so short and so precious. But, I am sorry to say that it takes a horrible situation like this to make others notice that life is short.
Going to and doing workouts on the track is especially hard. I push myself harder and harder because I say life is short and what if I don't get to do this tomorrow? What if I don't get to stretch on that track, and talk to those people, and run with them and see my family and friends later on in the day....just like I always do....what if it's all taken away in an instant???
I try to be a better person. When I'm gone some day, I want people to remember me for being a good person and having shown kindness and humbleness throughout my life - in the way Maura had done.”
Sharon has much to say about how her life has changed since Maura’s disappearance: “The impact of Maura's missing has totally changed my life. I wish I could say it was for the better. Sadly, although, in many ways I try to live for the minute, the not knowing and the mystery of her disappearing has consumed my life. The best way I can think of it is to liken it to an addiction: Not only are thoughts of all that we are missing with Maura constantly being pictured in my mind, but also thoughts of what can I do to help find her; what can I do to garner resources of others that are better suited than we to assist us in finding her? What can I do for my son and for other loved ones who surely are suffering more than I?
I have learned that grieving and healing from the loss of a missing person is much more complex than the grief and healing of a deceased person. We all still are grieving Maura's missing, and in many ways our heartache hasn't even begun to heal.
Long ago, I chose to rear my 4 children with constant reminders of the Bible verse found in Romans 8:28: "All things work together for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose." As I was raising my children and even now in their adult years, when we discuss a problem, regardless of how small, I remind them that God cannot tell a lie and I quote them this scripture. I point out that it doesn't say all "good" things work together, but that "All" things means the very worst of situations.
I also mention the scripture that says in this world we "see through a glass darkly"; therefore, we cannot possibly know what good can come of some deep disappointment, heartache or a living nightmare as in the case of a missing person. Although, I use this scripture for comfort in Maura's missing, I have yet to find the courage to remind my son, who loves her so dearly, of this Bible lesson. Yet, I know it to be true. God is not the author of evil. He is not the reason that Maura is missing. But, I am convinced that He in His infinite wisdom and in His time will reveal to us why it is that we suffered this tremendous loss in our lives.
There are days that I deal with Maura's missing as I know that God desires: and that is that I lean on Him to ease my heartache, frustration, depression and anger. (I was surprised to learn that others also experience anger because of a missing loved one.) Other days, even with constant prayer, I find myself preoccupied with thoughts of her; some days it is just a long river of tears. And, very often, on those days, I talk to my husband, or to my children or occasionally, I just have a talk with Maura while I cry.”
Sharon has a special message for Maura, but she wants us to first understand this: “It is a given that IF Maura can read this, then she is alive, and I would want her to know that because she is alive, I thank God for answered prayer. Secondly, I would assume that IF she has chosen to be missing of her own accord that there must be something that she perceives as terribly wrong that prevents her from contacting any of us, and I would say:
"Dearest Maura, Please trust me, and please, please listen to me. I would like to speak for so many people that I have met that I know that love you. But, I will not presume to know their inner thoughts and feelings, so I speak only for myself and for Big Bill. We have this discussion over and over. We want you to know that there is no problem that you may have that we cannot understand; there is no problem that you may have that we find cannot find help for you; there is no problem or action on your part that we cannot forgive. Very simply: we will always love you.
We wish you knew how very much our family loves you and longs to know that you are well. There is nothing that you have done or could possibly do that would diminish the love we have for you. We will always be here for you or to help you. There are times we feel guilty - and we play over and over so many things in our minds: if we ever caused you to feel insecure in our love or to doubt that we wanted you to be a part of our family, please forgive us. If you are choosing to be away, then I know that guilt does its number on you too. Don't be afraid to come home, to come to Ohio.
I recall the fear and love in your voice when you called for advice when Billy was so ill during Jan 2002. Do you recall that fear? It pales in comparison to the fear we experience because you are missing. Because you have been gone for so long, you surely must have doubts and fears about returning. This is understandable. But here nothing has changed the way Big Bill and I feel towards you. We just regret that we didn't openly share with you how much we love, admire and respect you.
Most of all, we just want to hold you and smother you with our love and hugs while you blush and giggle. Call us collect; email us; write us with no return address; contact us in any manner you choose, but please let us know that you are among the living. Hopefully, you will return soon: your old room is waiting; the Beretta is waiting. Most of all, we are waiting. And, if God forbid, you are being held against your will, trust in God, be strong, do what you can to get away, and if possible, get word to us. Be confident that your Dad will never rest in his search for you, and many more of us will never give up our pursuit until you are home.
All my love and prayers, Sharon
PS - Thought that you would want to know: 'Joseph' is *comforted* with 'Harry' on the opposite side of *shredded navy* - I know you get it :-) “
I don’t have any idea what the “shredded navy” message is about, but I know that Maura does. I hope and pray that she can read this and remember the special time with Sharon that prompted this.
When I started writing this story, I mentioned that it is a difficult one to write. I see Maura as a female counterpart to Jason in the level of mystery and the ability to still have hope, based upon what we know. I feel a kinship with Sharon, as we share nearly the same philosphies about our faith and the part it plays in our lives now.
Because of this, I know that no matter how long we are to live with this, we will be able to go on with our lives, even if it means those lives don’t include Maura and Jason.
We know we will see them again. We just do not know when and where. That is our comfort and our cause for joy.
Please be sure to visit http://www.mauramurray.com/ for more information.
Jim Viola, husband of missing Patricia Viola, has made available a link to the video clip of Fred and Sharon's segment of the Montel Williams Show: http://tinyurl.com/9eqkp