Friday, November 27, 2009

Home for the Holidays: Benjamin Roseland 11/27/09

Benjamin "Benny" Roseland, missing from Clinton, IA since 2/9/2008
Written by Audra Jean Roseland, Benny's sister

My brother, Ben Roseland, disappeared from Clinton, Iowa on the night of February 9th, 2008. It was approximately ten o’clock p.m. when Ben left a friend’s apartment to go across the street to the local Hyvee Grocery Store for a snack. Ben left the apartment building and never made it to the store. Ben was nineteen at the time of his disappearance; he has brown hair and blue eyes, is 5’ 11” and weighs 175 pounds. He was last seen wearing camouflage overalls. We are praying for answers and to have Ben home someday soon.

Ben was always fun to be around on the holidays. He would always get presents that would surprise us and let us know that he was thinking about us without all the words. I remember the last Christmas I spent with Ben. He had been in a terrible car accident at the end of November, and we were just grateful to still have him in our lives. We were glad that he was alive and well, and wanted to cherish our Christmas and just celebrate with Ben. This was our milestone and we were growing closer as a family, and treasuring the things that really mattered in our lives, like each other.

It was our first Christmas with my daughter, Mara who is Ben's first and only niece. I remember right after he was released from the hospital, Ben wanted Mara to open the gifts he'd bought her. Ben wanted to show them to her, and was still a little wary around her (she was a very little 4 month old baby, and he wasn't used to it yet). He was very groggy from the medication that he was on, and he rolled off of the couch and went over where he had stacked his gifts (no tree had been put up). He grabbed her gifts off the top and told me, "Mara can open these." I told him, "No, that's okay Ben, you're confused. It's not Christmas yet." It took a while to convince me, but finally, I let them open the gifts, which were two really cute, collectible Boyd's bears. It was a nice gift and a wonderful beginning of a collection for her. Ben was so happy and so pleased with himself.

I also remember that it was very close to Christmas and my parents still had not put up a Christmas tree or anything, and my sister, Helen, had really been advocating for it to be put up. So, Ben and I trudged down to the basement and we drug up the first dusty box that we could find, and opened it once we got upstairs. It wasn't our normal green tree; it was this weird white tree that neither of us had ever seen. We did not care for the tree and felt that it took away from the festive Christmas feel. Later, my sister, Helen, came home and put the tree up.

On November 24, Ben’s birthday, we will sit down at my parent's kitchen table and eat Ben's birthday cake. Last year I bought a birthday cake for Ben, and we saved half of it in hope that we would be sharing it with Ben. We will be having this year without him. Then we will go outside and plug in Ben's "hope" tree. We’ll put clear lights on the pine tree Ben planted in the front yard as a child. Last year we put lights on it in hope of Ben's safe return to us.

On Christmas Eve, we will go through all of the motions together, but it won't be the same. We will all exchange gifts together, and put aside the gifts that we bought for Ben, in case he arrives. We won't say a word about Ben, but we will all be thinking about him. Mom and Dad probably won't feel like decorating this year...but since Ben’s disappearance, I have had another baby boy, Auron, so they might make the effort for my children. We will focus on making the holiday good for the kids, because they can always make us smile. We will share kisses and hugs, and go to sleep with tear filled eyes, not talking about how we really feel inside.

However, I am fortunate to have a shoulder to cry on...a third party to confide in. We all cope in our own ways. My mother stays up late at night and sleeps most of the day, trying to keep her mind off of it. My father surrounds himself with his friends and his hobbies. My sister concentrates on her own wants and needs while surrounding herself with her friends and hobbies. I have my own immediate family and my work. We will just continue this trend until some answer is provided.

I hope that Ben comes back to us in the future so that he can meet his nephew, and see how big his niece is, because even though they don't know or remember him, they still feel all the feelings that we feel...there just aren't memories attached to them; instead it's pictures and stories. I miss Ben, as he is my only brother. I miss his blatantly, often cynical, point of view of things. Ben loved things like finance, the government, and history, which are not my strongest subjects. I miss having him to go to when I have a question, or if I need a laugh. Even though he didn't mean to be, sometimes, Ben just had a way about him that was humorous. Ben was fun to be around most of the time, his presence made me feel better like somehow I wasn't alone.

Ben was my best friend and companion for so many years. Ben and I grew up together, we were all each other had, and we knew what one another was thinking and feeling, because for the most part we went through the same things.

My biggest hope for my family is that one way or another, we find Ben. For better, or worse, my family needs closure. The constant uncertainty has caused a rift between us. Some of us think the best, and others the worse. We don't want anyone impeding on our thoughts, and so we don't talk about it. The saying is, "Hope for the best, but expect the worse." --I have to say that this is not a good mindset to be in constantly, and closure will hopefully bring us some optimism.

One way or another, my family deserves closure, and sooner or later we will get it. My ultimate Christmas wish is to see Ben walk though that door on Christmas Eve, with arms wide open.

Learn more about Benjamin Roseland

Monday, November 23, 2009

Home for the Holidays: Michael Austin Davis 11/22/09

Michael “Austin” Davis, missing from Jacksonville, FL since 06/26/2007

Austin was 26 years old at the time of his disappearance in June 2007 when he took a taxi ride that ended at Jax Jewelry and Pawn Shop at the intersection of 103rd Street and Blanding Blvd in Jacksonville, FL around 12:30pm. Police have confirmed that Austin bought a shotgun there, and according to the clerk, put the gun in a duffle bag and left the shop on foot. Austin had been battling depression, and we believe that is what led him to purchase the gun. Leads have been followed but none have panned out, and there has been no access of personal accounts or cell phone use since that day. We also later learned that he never cashed his last paycheck from work. Austin left all personal belongings behind including a laptop and backpack that he never left home without.

Austin was our second child, almost five years younger than his sister Anita. Growing up, Austin was a wonderfully social child, loved people and was never fearful of making new friends, or talking with adults. Teachers always said what a charming young man he was and that he’d do well. As he grew, he continued to make us proud of the man that he was becoming, making the mistakes that we all make, but finding himself and a direction for his life. Austin learned to cook as a young man and was good at it, working at a well known seafood restaurant chain as he studied to be a computer technician. He loved fixing us a favorite dish, or conferring on the best seasonings to use while grilling, or suggesting different ways to cook something, that part of him always surprised me a little, but in the best possible way. Austin’s quiet sweetness is something I miss more than I can ever express, especially the times he’d come to me and say Mom can we talk….and he’d share parts of himself with me.

As a child, Austin loved the holidays, with dreams of Santa, family gatherings, decorating, baking and more. One of our favorite Christmas traditions was joining family in West Virginia at a state park with several cabins filled with generations of family. The largest cabin would be the gathering place for family talent shows, gift wrapping contests, traditional Christmas readings and carols, and roaring fires. Outside, there was often snow falling and deer coming in close to feed. The kid’s first snowman there was so memorable; it was truly a wonderful time of family. There were also many years of Christmas in Florida, no snow, but lots of fun and tradition even without the winter wonderland. One of our favorite memories was when Santa brought a go-cart and we all laughed a lot as Austin plowed through the outdoor decorations hurting nothing other than the lights.

The older Austin got, the less excitement he showed at all the Christmas lights and decorations, but when his sister and I would look at lights he’d always go with us…sometimes with an occasional grumble, but we knew he enjoyed it. Though he didn’t get caught up in all the trappings that go along with the holiday season, he always was thoughtful and caring about the gifts he would choose. Many times as an adult, his sister or I would enlist his help in a gift, whether it was putting it together, setting up the programming of a new computer or just making the pickup from a store…he was always willing to help.

This Christmas will be our third since Austin has been gone and I yearn to reach out and touch him, relive some of my favorite memories that I can see so clearly before my eyes - the smiles, the warmth, the family gatherings, and the last weekend we spent together. I wish loved ones did not have to leave us too young. I wish that tragedy never haunted a single soul. But I know that sometimes life breaks your heart, as it has mine. This year, close to Christmas, Austin will have a brand new nephew (Ben) born, who will only know his Uncle Austin from the stories we share. I hope that as time passes and Christmases come, we’ll be able to share stories with him and laugh together over memories.

My hope is always that we find Austin. Whether we find him alive, or find his remains, I want to bring him home. I pray in the upcoming year that someone somewhere knows something that could lead us to him and is brave enough to come forward and say, I know where he is…or I saw him that day, and this is what happened.

One person can make the difference to our family, and can be the difference between never knowing what happened, and being able to bring a loved one home.

Our story submitted with loving memories, and hope.

Christy Davis
Austin’s Mom

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Home for the Holidays 2009 11/21/09

It’s fast approaching the time of year that is often mixed with gratitude for what we have, and longing for what we don’t. For us, the families of the missing, the holidays mark the passage of time without our missing loved ones.

The holidays are a busy time, and often those whom we need to be our eyes and ears (You) may be otherwise occupied. We’d like to turn your attention back to our missing loved ones, even if just for a few minutes by sharing a piece of our lives that relate to the holiday season.

To that end, we’d like to introduce a series of stories for the holiday season entitled "Home for the Holidays.” Beginning on November 22 and ending on January 1st, we’ll feature a story about a Project Jason family and their missing loved one. The story will be written by the family of that missing person about this holiday, their missing loved one, traditions, and the place they should/could fill in their home.

We'll bring you inside our lives and demonstrate what it’s like to have someone we love disappear. We'll share the stories of anguish, but also those stories of hope.

Remember that the more often the faces of our missing loved ones are seen, the greater the odds of recovery, so please encourage others to share these stories.
Never forget what you have, and don't let an opportunity pass by to tell someone you love them.

This Christmas a family somewhere will get their miracle. Maybe it won't be me and maybe it won't be any of the participating families, but there is always hope.
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