Wednesday, November 09, 2005

11/9/05 Prayers and Posters Part II

We continue with Ryan and Linda’s story:

Linda is now becoming more active in the cause. As we speak, she is in Denver attending one of the regional conferences that are an offshoot of the government sponsored “Identifying the Missing” conference I attended in Philadelphia in April. She called me from the conference. It was not a good time for her to go, as she had to travel there on the day after Ryan’s 5 year anniversary. I’m sure she was exhausted, but yet, there was a distinct lift in her voice. It was an almost child-like excitement as she spoke of the people she would meet and the things she would learn. This is the 1st conference of this type Linda has attended, and I hope there will be many more for her.

Back home, Linda has also worked to educate children and young adults in regards to safety. She believes this education is a form of prevention. (She is right.) She has worked with my organization, the National Center for Missing Adults, and the Kristen Foundation to present safety classes, self defense classes, and to provide fingerprinting. Linda tells kids to “be safe, not scared”.

Last Christmas, Linda spearheaded a very special wreath display that featured the photo buttons of 12 missing persons from our Adopt a Missing Person program. (You can see the photos of the wreath on Ryan’s website.) Thousands of people saw the wreath and the faces of our missing loved ones.

For some of us, like Linda and I, who might never learn of the fates of their missing loved ones, what is most important is what we gain in our lives because of the loss. Are we open to the lessons, as difficult as they are?

In doing the interview, Linda presented her life lesson, although that was not necessarily the intention.

“I always look at what good comes out of the bad events in my life. I know tragedy can make you better or bitter. I want to be better, a better Christian, a better mother, a better me. So I asked in the beginning how other MOM’s coped. I was warned not to get the “two year disease”. Many of the MOM’s have cancer, MS, MD, and other severe illnesses. This is not like my husbands battle till death with cancer. This doesn’t really have remission or known treatments for a cure. It is like when you lose your child in the grocery store and for that moment bad thoughts rush through your mind and you feel sick. Only it is like that everyday, and in my case for five years.

So you ask: “Why aren’t you sick?” I realized one day that I had to take care of me. If I did not, who would find Ryan? So I for the first time in my life began to take care of me. I am the oldest of five, a nurse, and a mother of two. My husband was sick for six years. I have always taken care of others. God forced my hand to take care of myself.

I was even mad that God had left me and not my husband. He could have found Ryan. I can not. Then I realized that God does not make mistakes. I had missed the lesson. I told myself to straighten up and continue the search. If God believed I was strong enough, then I should not doubt Him.

Not only has my faith grown stronger, but I have learned patience. I quit asking why, only where? I do not blame people, only look for clues. I try to find more good in the world than evil.
Life has different priorities. Faith, hope and love stand at the top. Everything happens for a reason and these are my reasons for my suffering.

I have learned patience and often let go and let God. I try not to blame or use my energies in a negative manner. I try hard to balance my life. This allows me to have a life besides the search. This means to work hard to take care of myself. Stress causes illness. I want to live a long and healthy life and to find Ryan. Balance in the journey includes posters, search, and prayer.”

These were the lessons Linda told me all those years ago when we first spoke. I know that my life changed because of what she told me. I hope that this message might reach just the right person who needs to hear it. I have never met Linda in person, but I am determined that someday, I will. Even though she says she has learned more from me, what I learned from her made a tremendous difference in my life. Without my better health, I doubt I could have had the strength to start Project Jason. I salute Linda for having the courage to reach out beyond her pain to help a stranger. So Ryan, where ever you are, if you don’t already know it, you are very blessed to have Linda as your mother.

Linda summarizes her thoughts about this journey:

“I cope by putting my faith in God. I have always said I would rather have God’s arms around Ryan than mine. I am learning about patience. Things happen in God’s time not Linda’s. I never give up hope and attempt to not let people forget about Ryan Katcher. That is why prayers and posters are both an important part of coping.”

Linda has a message for Ryan:

“Wherever you are son, consider yourself hugged. God bless you and keep you. I love you. I miss you. You know I will always look for you. We will be together someday, until then you are always in my heart.

Until our next hug,

“I would rather have God’s arms around Ryan than mine.”

This beautiful comment summarizes the depth of a mother’s unselfish love. You will have your arms around him again someday, Linda. God will give you that gift…..I have no doubt about it.

Postnote: Linda doesn't know it yet, but the article for Ryan made the Chicago Tribune today. Since Linda is out of town, I am hoping that a reader who lives in or near Chicago would pick up a copy for Linda and one for me. I will gladly reimburse you for postage to get it to me.

Here is the link to the story online:,1,867804.story?ctrack=1&cset=true


Anonymous Carol said...

Thank you for doing Linda's story, Kelly. Linda was one of the first parents to do an interview with me several years ago and I think that was the first time that I really, REALLY thought about having a loved one just vanish. The thought was incomprehensible to me and yet somehow she was able to put her story into words that I could somewhat understand. It was only a few months later that I "met" you. You and Linda are hero's to me and angels to countless others!!

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