11/13/05 Te Amo, Claudia Part I
Joaquin cannot look for his granddaughter in the same manner in which the rest of us seek our missing loved ones. You see, he is paralyzed from the chest down, the victim of a drive-by shooting that happened many years ago while he was attending college in Chicago. In-home care givers now assist him with his daily needs, and often have to prompt him to go to bed. He doesn’t want to stop what he is doing.
“Ok, it’s time for me to go to bed. Goodnight, and sleep tight with the angels,” he writes to me as he ends his daily quest to find his beloved Claudia.
Sometime in the middle of the night on October 5th, 2004, Claudia disappeared from her bedroom at Joaquin’s home. She left a note behind that said:
“I want to thank you grandpa for every thing you done and given me. Please tell Jessie I love him and that I am sorry, and I love you very much.”
Joaquin will always feel guilty because of the events of the night before. Before she went to bed, Claudia told him that she had left a note for him by the computer, but he was to promise not to read it until in the morning. He will always regret not reading the note, but he had promised his granddaughter he would not. They hugged and kissed each other goodnight, and said their usual “Te Amo”, which means “I love you” in Spanish.
This heartbroken grandfather tells us about those first hours without Claudia:
“At around 4:30 am I woke up because I thought I heard a door close. So I decided to get up out of bed to check. I got in my chair and went in the living room and every thing looked normal. On my way back to my room, I looked in Claudia’s room and I didn’t see her. I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming. I went to her mother’s room and she was still awake. She asked what was wrong and why was I up so early, and I told her: “I think Claudia is gone from her room.”
“Go back to bed you probably had a bad dream,” she said to me.
But it was no dream…..it was real. Claudia was gone from her room. By then every one else was up asking what was going on. Right away we called the police to make a report. Then I remembered the note Claudia had told me about. So I rushed to my room to read it. I was trying hard to hold back my tears. I could not believe that she was gone. And so began my struggle to find my granddaughter.”
We'll continue with Part II on Monday.