Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A missing mother, and a thin pink string

Every day, several times a day, I look down at my wrist and I think of someone. Someone I have never met.


Mo is missing.

Moreira - Mo to her friends, and everyone seemed to be a friend of Mo's - was last seen on January 12th. I can't stop thinking about her.

I think about her, and her frantic parents who flew to Hawaii to wait for news, and her children who are desperately searching this island for her, accompanied by friends and strangers. They have fanned out, pins in a map, boots on the ground, connecting the dots.

Mo is still missing.

You have seen news stories like this. Some episode of Dateline, with it's melodramatic music and open ended questions. But this isn't TV. This is here. On a small island, in a tight knit community, where no one is six degrees separated from anyone else. My husband works with Mo. Her daughter and I have mutual friends. And in a community so small, it is practically impossible to disappear.

It has been almost 3 weeks since anyone has seen Mo. Every day I hope will be the day she is found. It's an island, after all - where could she go? Where would she be? People are angry. Scared. Lashing out and holding their loved ones close. Accusing and questioning, praying and threatening - sometimes in the same breath. And why shouldn't they? A mother is gone.

Mo is missing.

As the days slip past, the frustration and concern mounts. Her loved ones are showing incredible strength in the face of unimaginable stress and fatigue. My worst fear has always been losing my children. Not knowing where they are, or if they are safe. When my son is late and doesn't answer his phone, I switch into high alert automatically. When my daughter goes outside to ride her bike and disappears from my view for more than a few minutes, I panic. When I take kids to the beach and suddenly my head count is one short, I can't breathe. I cannot imagine how I would go on, get out of bed, put one foot in front of the other, function - never mind work and eat and sleep - if someone I loved just disappeared one day, seemingly into thin air. But it happens. It happened to Mo.

They said to light a candle, but instead I lit a star. And hung it in our front window.

We haven't gone out with the search groups yet. I can't bear to call them search "parties". There is nothing party-like about these gatherings. There is a jaw-clenching, "let's do this" feeling in the air. No one is going to give up. No one is going to stop looking. And the areas that have been searched are spreading wider and wider across the hills and valleys of our island home. Paradise.


I have watched this get bigger.
The first inkling that something was wrong was a Facebook post from Mo's daughter, shared by a friend: "My mom is a missing person".
Which led to a post on a Maui-based Facebook group.
And then to it's own Facebook page.
To local online media.
To the newspapers and the statewide evening news.
To the Huffington Post.
The story is everywhere, but it's still here. Right here. A mother. A daughter. A friend. A co-worker.
Mo is missing.

This is all so big, so terrifying, and so close that I am desperately trying to keep it at arm's length. As if, by sheltering my children from the searches, I can protect them from the terrible world where something so dark, so inexplicable, could happen.

I know that I can't. At the end of my arm's length is a thin pink string, tied around my wrist.
Hot pink was Mo's favorite color.
Mo is still missing.
But I know she will be found.

Hold your kids tight. Always take the time to say a real goodbye. Tell people you love them. Tell people you appreciate them. And light a candle. Or a star. And please send thoughts of love and strength to her family and friends, and especially to her three children, who want nothing more than to see their mom again.

If you would like to order a Prayer Bracelet for Mo, please follow this link:

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