by Sean Cruz
If anyone was to ask me to describe what the loss of a child in a kidnapping is like, fourteen years gone by, this is how I would answer:
Searing, crushing heartbreak.
Same then, same now.
Heart full of pain, heart full of tears.
Same now, same then.
The photographic record of your child, the educational record, the record of your child’s life ends abruptly, in a single instant.
Everything that follows is a matter of age-progressed photographs and other guesswork and the certain knowledge that your heart will never recover from this.
It is the nature of kidnappings that the victims are taken by surprise. No one is ever prepared for this.
Shock. Disbelief. Searing, choking, crushing heartbreak. Anger. Panic. Desperation. Grief. Hopelessness. Depression. For some, suicide. You feel your pain, and you feel your child’s pain, and this pain never goes away.
With time, when you find yourself able to think about the future, you come to understand that every dream you ever had ended with the abduction, like an asteroid suddenly smashed the planet flat.
As a father, as a man, I am acutely aware that in child custody and family kidnapping cases, the legal system treats men differently from women.
This disparate treatment is certainly institutional, but it is grounded in the attitudes of society at large.
No reasonable person is going to expect a mother whose children disappeared to either start up a new family or to ever have a normal life again.
People have a very different expectation of fathers, however, and the legal system is made up of people. In this society, people expect fathers to move on, to start up another family somewhere, and another….
From the very beginning, people counseled me to be patient, assured me that someday my children would find me, had other ignorant things to say, but most often just shrugged, unable to relate to the situation….
In just a matter of months, some people were wondering why I didn’t just move on…I still hear that, way too often…”Geez, Sean. Fourteen years. You ought to move on….”
First point: Kidnappings are continuing crimes. Your child is kidnapped from the beginning to the end. There is no time off, no vacations, no relief whatsoever. A kidnapping is a permanent state of being. There is no moving on!
If your child is lost in the mountains, people can understand that as long as your child is lost in the mountains, your child is lost in the mountains. Some might even help you search….
That point has been lost on just about everyone I have met along the way.
This is a typical attitude toward cases of parental and family kidnapping, and it makes recovery that much more difficult. At minimum, the attitudes cost you time, cost your child’s time, and time is everything.
I envy people their normal lives.
I know that somewhere out there on the planet, three of my children are still alive.
For me, that is the most important fact in all the world.
Child abduction wisdom, pt 2: The police won’t help you