This is a fascinating article from the always wonderful Guardian about what it’s like to be the brother or sister of a missing person. They interviewed people from several different families — all British, of course, but I’m sure they would have the same feelings as American families do. It’s rather wrenching to read. At the bottom, though, they interviewed a guy who was missing for over a decade and then came home.
In the comments section I saw this:
my brother disappeared for 19 years, we hired a detective, registered him with the Salvation Army (they have a missing persons register) and after 16-17 years we had a note from the SA telling us our brother was alive but did not want to be in touch with us. It was simultaneously a relief and further torture and frustration. A year later I had a woman contact me via Facebook to say she knew my brother and wanted to let me know he was fine but didn’t want contact. Another year passed and he agreed to meet me on the condition I not let the rest of my family know. I agreed and met him for three hours, we cried and cried and cried when we met and hugged each other endlessly. It was a one-way street he wanted to know everything about the family but would tell me nothing of himself and his circumstances. To cut a very long story short, he agreed to meet my family and had an emotional reunion. It was fine for a few months but my family found it very hard to forgive him the decades of pain he had caused them. He continues to ‘disappear’ to this day for months/a year at a time and my father now says he wishes he had never returned at all. Sometimes there is no happy ending.
Thanks for the link and great post. Its interesting to hear another point of view. Never thought about it like that.
I did not know Salvation Army had a registry for the missing. I know SA also has shelters and wonder if all shelters do this.
This post reminded me of another missing person. I can’t remember the name. He was a great baseball player and went into the military during Vietnam. His parents didn’t want him to go, but he did anyway and told him that a famous baseball player went into the military and then went into professional baseball and that he would do the same. Anyway he went missing in action and presumed dead then two years later he came walking up to his parents’ house. He of course was not the same mentally and disappeared for good. The point I wanted to make was there was a woman that wrote to him all the time and never got anything back until one day he sent a postcard that said Good Luck on your vacation (not sure exactly what was written but it was short) because she was getting ready to go on holiday. I kept wondering where on the earth is she writing to because it didn’t seem like it was directly to him, but thru another party. Now I’m wondering if its thru places like Salvation Army or other missing person agencies.
The baseball player is James Wood. He disappeared in 1968 in Vietnam and was presumed dead, but he was found in 1970 and he returned to the United States. He went missing again in 1987 while living in Maryland. His father I think is still alive and continues to wait for his return.
^^ Oops I take that back. The older James would be 101 years old if still alive today. So unfortunately, it is likely that he has passed on. I also would like to add that Louisa Buckingham, the friend who got the postcard, wrote to him through the Veteran’s association.
Yeah that’s him! Thanks Purple and Justin. I thought that was amazing that Louisa got something back!
Here are some other links I read awhile back:
TBH I can totally see the draw of wanting to disappear. I have some toxic and abusive family members and, if done correctly, it would ensure not having to deal with their BS anymore. But for now I’ll just settle for moving 1000 miles away.