1/20/06 From the Archives
We're here in this place I never thought we would be. We're a family with a long term missing loved one. Reminders of Jason seem to be all around us. We see someone wearing a Chicago Cubs Hat or a Denver Broncos T-shirt, & we think of him. We go to the grocery store & see one of his favorite foods & we think of him. Every time we pull into our driveway & see his car sitting there, we think of him. A song on the radio brings him to mind. Someone asks about him. A woman in a car rolls down her window to tell me that they pray for him daily & that they haven't forgotten about him. We see a poster of him in a business. I am told that a family has his photo on their refrigerator & that they pray for him daily. The children ask their mother: "Has that boy come home yet?"
There is such a void in our hearts & in our family unit, one that can't be filled by anything other than his being back here with us. If he is still alive, he's almost 21 years old now. Has he grown taller? Does he look different? We want so much to know that he's safe & happy.
He's missed so many events & changes in the last year. His younger brother is growing up. He's grown several inches & his voice has changed. He misses Jason & could use a big brother during these teenage years. We wish with all our hearts that he had his big brother back to share with the kind of things that brothers share.
The holidays, particularly Christmas, were difficult. We tried to focus on the reason for the season, but in the end there was no denying that the best Earthly gift we could have received was not to be. Family members said prayers for Jason before the Christmas meal & just saying the words to the prayers was excruciating. At another gathering, videos of Christmases past played on, and it was much too difficult to see Jason & not have him there. We are grateful that those videos exist, but it was too painful to watch on that day.
Looking out the window on a bitterly cold day, we couldn't help but wonder if our son was safe & warm. Thankfully, the Winter was mild & didn't drag on. Spring arrived, & along with the budding trees came hope renewed.
Someone once asked me about bitterness with all that has happened. We all probably know someone that has become bitter. Their face is drawn & they have lost the ability to experience joy. To become a bitter person because life has its difficulties seems entirely selfish. That person robs themselves & their loved ones of the happiness they could experience. There are so many people with heavier crosses to bear than ours.
One of the great Saints, Alphonsus Liguori, explains a very difficult concept to grasp, that is happiness in the face of adversity. He relates a story about a monk: "Externally his religious observance was the same as that of the other monks, but he had attained such sanctity that the mere touch of his garments healed the sick. Marveling at these deeds, since his life was no more exemplary than the lives of the other monks, the superior asked him one day what was the cause of these miracles.
He replied that he too was mystified and was at a loss how to account for such happenings. "What devotions do you practice?" asked the abbot. He answered that there was little or nothing special that he did beyond making a great deal of willing only what God willed, and that God had given him the grace of abandoning his will totally to the will of God."Prosperity does not lift me up, nor adversity cast me down," added the monk. "I direct all my prayers to the end that God's will may be done fully in me and by me." "That raid that our enemies made against the monastery the other day, in which our stores were plundered, our granaries put to the torch and our cattle driven off -- did not this misfortune cause you any resentment?" queried the abbot."No, Father," came the reply. "On the contrary, I returned thanks to God -- as is my custom in such circumstances -- fully persuaded that God does all things, or permits all that happens, for his glory and for our greater good; thus I am always at peace, no matter what happens."
Seeing such conformity with the will of God, the abbot no longer wondered why the monk worked so many miracles."The Saint explains further: "Acting according to this pattern, one not only becomes holy but also enjoys perpetual serenity in this life. Alphonsus the Great, King of Aragon, being asked one day whom he considered the happiest person in the world, answered: "He who abandons himself to the will of God and accepts all things, prosperous and adverse, as coming from his hands.'' "To those that love God, all things work together unto good." Those who love God are always happy, because their whole happiness is to fulfill, even in adversity, the will of God.
Afflictions do not mar their serenity, because by accepting misfortune, they know they give pleasure to their beloved Lord: "Whatever shall befall the just man, it shall not make him sad." Indeed, what can be more satisfactory to a person than to experience the fulfillment of all his desires? This is the happy lot of the man who wills only what God wills, because everything that happens, save sin, happens through the will of God."
While it is very difficult to accept that it may be God's Will that we do not find our son, we must. We try as Saint Alphonsus explains, to find the good in what we perceive to be misfortune. If only one person that reads this website finds their faith in God rekindled, there is much joy in that one sinner returning home. If one family of a missing loved one uses an idea from the site that assists them in any way, there is joy in that. If we can overcome great odds to get a comprehensive law for the missing passed in Nebraska, that will benefit many for years to come.
Another mother of a missing young adult son once told me that in order to be able to do the things that we must do in the long-term search for our son, we must be healthy. We took that advice to heart & our family is on the road to better health. Has this event not occurred, no doubt we would still be entrenched in our previous poor habits.
Most importantly, our spiritual life has improved as we go through the human struggle of acceptance of God's Will. These are examples of the good found in adversity. Of course, we want nothing more than to find Jason, but if that is not to be, or not to be at this time, we must accept that & give thanks for the good that has come of it. We remind ourselves of all of our blessings, which are many. We thank God for giving us the strength & the graces necessary to carry this cross. As it is said, He never gives us more than we can bear.
….And on we go.