Now there is a title I never thought I would  bring to the table.  Well, maybe I would have years ago when my daughter had cancer, but not now.  Not 15 years after the cure, yet here i am writing about the loss of a child.

How do you learn to deal with it?  No, my daughter didn’t die, she ran away.  The day she did, I died a little.  She has been gone for 34 days now and I’m about ready to lose my mind.  From my perspective, and like I told her, she over-reacted big time to what I thought would be a good solution to what I thought she wanted.  See, in the few weeks before she left she was moody, grumpy, seemed tired a lot, and I hadn’t seen her for more than 30 minutes in the three weeks before she left.  She even said “yes, my boyfriend {BF} says I’m that way too”  so, I said, maybe you should stay home and rest some and not run the highway so much.  (isn’t that what a good mom would do and say?) The week she left several little events happened, but nothing out of the ordinary mother-daughter realm.  She asked someone I used to know to buy her shoes I was going to buy her but wanted to make is a surprise.  In hindsight, I now realize I should have seen  the warning signs, but didn’t.  Now I regret having health issues and work issues and life in general, but so life goes.

In the weeks before she left, we had a few discussions, nothing I would call fights, but I did talk to her about thanksgiving weekend and how hurt I was that she spent an hour with me for thanksgiving, missed out on an opportunity to get someone I used to know a birthday present, and then totally ditched me for the annual putting up the Christmas tree on a Sunday afternoon.  When I did speak to her about this, I prefaced the statement with, I am about to tell you somethings you probably don’t want to hear, but I need to get it off my chest.  She didn’t seem particulary upset by what I said, and promptly said she was sorry.  I even asked someone else about these events and if, I as a parent, was out of line for the way I felt.  In no way did I yell, scream, just calmly told her how I felt.  I was told, yes, you were fine with how you felt.  Little did I know this person would soon turn on me.

The next event I should have realized she was not right, was the shopping for a dress.  I took her shopping for a dress for her to wear to a special event, and she needed shoes to go with it.  I told her to look at the shoes she had at home and we would see what would work and if we needed to get a pair.  During this dress shopping trip, I purchased $200 worth of clothes for her, and boy did I enjoy this short shopping spree.  Since the arrival of the “boyfriend”, college and her work schedule, I felt as if I really hadn’t seen much of her.

Another warning sign was since she does work and I never see her due to our conflicting schedules, I thought about taking her to breakfast, but when the day before our breakfast date came, I really didn’t have the money to go, so I canceled breakfast but told her to let me know when her break was and I would most certainly bring her lunch.  The call never came.  What a whirlwind she was when she came home from work that night, grabbed something and then left.  She then told me later I could have come by her work anytime and eaten lunch.  I didn’t know this or I would have!

When the Monday before the “dress event” came, I got a call from her at work, and she asked if she could use my credit card to go shopping for shoes.  I told her I would think about it.  To my surprise, she found someone else to take her shoe shopping robbing me of my joy of taking her shopping again.  So, to be able to purchase the shoes for my child I called the person who took her shopping and asked to reimburse them for my child’s shoes.  “No, this person said, “she didn’t ask me to purchase the shoes, but still I wanted to pay for them.”  Then came a half hour talk about how hard it is for an “adult” to live in another adults house and how maybe I should come up with a contract for her, blah, blah, blah, I thought.  Since when do my child and I have trouble communicating???

So, then came the little talk after that about please, child, do not put me in that position where I have to listen to someone else tell me how to raise you.  Or, don’t humiliate me by acting like I’m not going to provide for you what I know you need.  If I can’t afford to get you shoes, I’ll ask for help. But, dear child, you robbed me of spending time with you!  Please don’t do it again.  During this conversation I also brought up the “boyfriend” whom I haven’t seen since November 25th, when I asked him not to lay on the couch with my daughter, who promptly asked me why I had a problem with that, and I said, “because for two people who wish to remain pure until marriage, you are playing with fire”…I guess he really didn’t like my explanation for the why I don’t want this, but I wouldn’t care how old two people are and if they are married and/or single, I do NOT want to see anyone laying on the couch together. And for a “gentleman” who told me upon first meeting me that he feels it is inappropriate to enter a girls room, this certainly seems odd that he would be disrespectful of how I felt about this.  And that’s the last conversation I ever had with him!  The excuse for him not ever coming around was “car trouble” and the “rebuilding of another car” and his parents loaned him a car that “wasn’t reliable”.  And like a fool, I believed all this.

So, the Tuesday before she left, I had a converation while at an exercise class with a “friend”.  I told her how I was wondering if I was an unreasonable parent for wanting my child to do a few dishes a day, feed one dog, let the dogs out and back in before she left for work, change out the laundy every now and again, was I wrong for my feelings about thanksgiving weekend???  Am I doing something wrong as a parent?  Nope, this person agreed, if she wants to be an adult, you have to show her how to do things, and “who does she think has been claning up her messes for 20 years”.  So I thought to myself, I can most certainly approach her tonight and have a different feel for what to say, and how to approach her “wanting to move out” and not “being responsible for any messes.”

You have to understand, in the last two years of her high school career, I worked three jobs at times to make ends meet so she could enjoy her high school friends, activities, and concentrate on the schooling so she could maybe enter college with her freshman year behind her.  However, her senior year, she was working so I decided to – with the help of a friend – get her a car!  See, my child was working steady and had several different irons in the fire and I felt maybe a car with low miles, and a low $240 payment for car, car insurance and phone all rolled into one, it would teach her responsibility, and give her freedom of having mommy take her everywhere.

Well, I was told the day before she left, that all I had done she didn’t really want.  She didn’t want the car and didn’t want the $240 car payment because it took all her money and she “didn’t ever get to have fun”.  She didn’t want to “clean up other people’s messes” (I didn’t know plates, cups and a fork or two was way too much for a college age kid to do – warning parents, don’t ask them to do dishes).  So, like a mother will do, I explained to her that if she tried to get her own apartment she would need rent money, utility money, health insurance, car insurance, appliances, furniture, money for food, she may have to get a second job to afford all this, and then where would school be?  What was wrong with living at home, in a home that you have free room and board, a fridge full of food, meals cooked and left on plates in the fridge, laundry room, all the free TV a kid could want.  AND…the bonus was the house was her’s and her’s alone from 7:15 every monring until 5:30 every night.  JACKPOT if you ask me.  I know, I said, it isn’t easy living with somone else, but we can make it work, if you and BF want to come here for dinner instead of you driving to his house every day and losing 45 minutes to get there and 45 minutes to get back, I’ll pay for him to come here.  I’ll cook meals, so many things I said that I keep wondering if I should regret them.

Should I regret explaining how much the cost of living is?  Should I regret speaking to people who would come to turn their backs on me once she left?  Should I reret telling BF I don’t want him laying on the couch with my daughter?  Should I regret telling someone I used to know I was going to buy her the shoes, I’m frustrated with her attitude?  (YES to this one)…should I regret telling her I would check into dorm living and maybe she could live there?  Should I regret telling her how much she hurt my feelings over thanksgiving?

Do I regret calling the school and checking into the dorms and telling her we could check into that and it may cost her more if scholarships don’t pay?  YES  – I think she was thinking that’s what I wanted her to do, so she ran.  I didn’t know she was going to do that…I thought I was going to bring the paperwork home on that Friday night and we would watch Friends and eat junk food for celiacs and talk about what SHE really wanted.  Not what so called friends were telling me she wanted because obviously they know and knew her better than I.  So, half hour before work was over I texted her to find out what she may want for carry out and her return to me was  this “thanks, but I think I’ll figure something out tonight.  Cat and I have found somewhere else to live” next one “It’s fine, I’m safe”…Really, I said, that’s what you want to say to me, I think you over reacted and I’m tired of people telling me what you want.  I guess you are not speaking to me.  I called the police, so expect a call.  I hope you know what you’re doing.  What shall I do iwth your car?”  See, by this time I had made it home, saw her car in the driveway, and wasn’t so panicked.  I came into the house and yelled her name, running into her room and it was devoid of clothes, knick knack’s but what was left was anything I had ever given her.    I again called some people I knew and very calmly they told me to calm down and remain calm.  Seriously, how in the world do you stay calm when you child is gone?  The police came and asked everything I mom always wants to her, “did you have a fight?” NO, “is she on drugs?” NO, “is she with her boyfriend?”  I DON”T KNOW, “do you approve of him?”  HOW WOULD I KNOW, I BARELY KNOW HIM”  Well, ma’am, since is 19 we really can’t do anything…you’ll just have to wait for her to call you and for her to talk to you.  What you aren’t understanding Officer Fat Belly, is that my child and I do not have problems, we don’t fight…I would come to say that very sentence 1000 times over 34 days.

I then thought about her bank account and how it barely had any money in it, and while at the bank, she walked in, smiling and waving to the teller and as soon as she saw me, her face went blank, I turned and said, “What are you doing”  her BF promptly said “you didn’t give her a choice”  I looked at him, raise my hand and said “you best not speak to me right now” with a smile on his face he said “that’s no problem” I looked at my beautiful child and my life flashed before my eyes, yes, you did have a choice, you could have waited for me to come home and we could have talked abouat this, but you chose to do this instead.  YEP she said, so cold and unlike the child I raised.  I wonder where this hatred and attitude is coming from.  Doesn’t she know I love her and only want what’s 100 % best for her?  That would be the last time I would see or hug or hear from her.  It’s now been 34 days.

I called the people I used to know and explained the entire situation to them, but while receving what I will call a lecture I said three times that I need to hang up, and I did, I needed to be alone in my thoughts and my sorrow.

You know, you really find out how much people truly think of you and how well they know you and how much they will support you in a situation like this.  These so called people that I thought were my support, who I thought understood and appreciated all i have done for my child, all that I have sacrified, believed I would do anything for, that I would die before I would let anyone hurt her, have turned on me faster than lightening strikes.  For 33 days I had no understanding of why…now I do.  You see, this precious child that I would still take a bullet for, I still love to the the end of the earth, who I have trouble breathing without evidently has told everyone the following  “my mom screams and yells, she called the police on me twice, and then she kicked me out of the house”.  HOLY CRAP…what’s a mom to do?  I went for 20 days calling hospitals and checking obits to see if she was alive or dead because I didn’t know.  See kids are smart these days.  They can suspend their own phones, block you from all forms of social media, have their friends block you and you cannot get ahold of anyone. Then, so called people who you think  know you, tell you because you hid things from your past from them (now, these things are painful events that I do not like to talk about) they cannot believe a word you say, so they have to believe what your child has said, so then they shut you out too, all the while admitting they have known where your child was all this time, even helped her move out AND  are housing her, and then get mad at you for pointing out that this could have been handled so different.  That you want your child back and need her and want to help her with whatever is going on….

What I do know is that my child is hurting and I cannot get to her.  What I do know is every night I go to sleep knowing I just faced 24 hours without her and I will wake up tomorrow not knowing if this is another day I’ll have to face without her. What I do know is that I have the love and support of my church, friends, neighbors and employer, but all pales to the love I had from my child.  What I do know is that every day my heart breaks just a little bit more, and I sleep with her blanket and wear her class ring and pray and beg God to bring her home.  What I do know is for the past 34 days I have wept, prayed, wept, prayed, clung to my friend while literally crying out “where is she”, “I want her back”, “why doesn’t she love me”, “why is she doing this?” over and over and over again.

My thoughts frequently turn to what if she dies?  How will I know if she is sick or injured”, what if I die?  What if I get sick?  Will she know?  Will she care?  Would she come to my funeral?  Will I ever see her face?  Will I ever get to hug her again? Why doesn’t she call?  Why doesn’t she write?  I’ve sent four cards, is the people she is living with even giving her these items?  Did she read how I got the tattoo of a cross and butterfy, cross for Jesus, butterfly for her?  What is she thinking?  What is she feeling?  It’s been 34 days and I’m out of ideas of how to reach out to her…does she care my heart is completely broken?  Does she know I would do anything to find out what I can do to make it better?

It doesn’t help when people say this is normal, every parent goes through this.  My parents didn’t.  I didn’t leave them, I didn’t not let them know where I was and what I was doing.  I just don’t understand.  I would never want to hurt my family like this…I know they don’t feel the same, but that’s besides the point.  My child is gone.  My heart is gone.  My world has stopped turning. Each day is like the one before.  I get up, I pray, I read a gospel, I shower, go to work, come home, and sit and stare at the walls and wonder where she is.  How she is.  Does she know I love her?  Does she still have a mustard seed of love for me?  My life will never be the same.  My heart will never be the same. How do parent deal with missing kids?  When they die you have closure, you at least have a place to visit and talk…when they are just gone there is no closure, no ending, no reasoning.  I try to put my mind somewhere else, but maybe it’s just too soon…what does a mother do?  We carry our children, nuture our children, hurt when they hurt.  When a child goes missing everyone blames the mom..what did you do?  Where did you go wrong?  Search your heart and find out what you did…let God guide you in your mistakes…

I have done all that.   I have search, admitted my wrongdoing, repented to God, to friends, to my church family…but still this question remains…

where is my child?

My world, it’s changed, and it will never, ever be the same.