Wednesday, May 7, 2014

When the calls came, Part 1

December 3, 2013 I stopped into one of the handy postal annex type stores to send a fax and while browsing around some rocks caught my eye. They had Chinese writing characters on them and English words. Plans for our family Christmas party had been in the works for weeks and I when we did the name exchange I drew Nathan's name. He would like these rocks! I studied the selection carefully, deep in thought about what would mean the most to Nathan... There were rocks with "peace", "joy", "love", etc. I stood for quite a while, finally selecting "courage", "peace" and "hope". Many of us in the family knew that Nathan had been lonely since he was the only sibling living at his dad's house. In texts between Nathan and I about mid-November he shared with me that he was re-thinking his life. He often talked about getting through high school and what he would do afterwards. I felt that he needed hope to hold on to and peace in his heart and courage to make it through the years ahead. I purchased those rocks not knowing that he was no longer with us.

December 4, 2014 I had arrived at a client's home, had coffee, visited and prepared breakfast. Dishes were done and the dog was fed. I was sitting on the couch, about to watch a game show with my client when the first call came. I checked my phone and saw that the call was coming from my ex-husband and I thought it was odd that I would hear from him. We had not spoken in over a year. For a brief moment I thought of not answering, but then realized this must be important. As I walked into the kitchen, I heard a very shaky voice tell me that at the end of the previous day he had received a call from the high school... Nathan had not been to school that day. Upon checking around the house, it was realized that Nathan had not been seen since Monday, December 2nd. My ex-husband's voice continued, nervous and unsettled. I heard pain in his voice. My heart raced, my knees shook and as he shared that Nathan had been depressed and his grades had recently dropped, I knew. Although events would continue for days and weeks to confirm this, I knew at that moment that Nathan was gone. His dad hoped he was hiding out at a friend's house. Police reports were made. I was irritated that I had not been notified the day prior to this. The phone call ended with words such as "I'm sure everything will be fine... but I had to tell you because you will be contacted by the sheriff's office."

I called in to my office and explained that my son was missing and that I needed to get home. I thank God for a job with caring owners and staff. I remember that on that first day that I knew my son was missing, my daughter Rebekah began a "Find Nathan" facebook page. She took criticism from some of Nathan's family for this... she was told that she was over-sensationalizing the situation. Nathan wasn't "missing". That just still makes no sense... do you know where my son is? No? Then he IS missing. Day by day numbers of people following the "Find Nathan" facebook page soared. It didn't slow down until after 3,000 people were following. I logged into facebook and shared "What does a parent of a missing child do? This is day 1 for me. I hope this ends soon, with a good ending. It doesn't matter what the age of the child is... if you are a mom it doesn't matter... you hear people say, "It's going to be all right" and you really want to believe that... and it could be all right soon. But for now nothing is all right."

I had received a couple of calls from investigators regarding Nathan's disappearance. One investigator questioned me in a way as though I were guilty... asking me if I had gone to pick up Nathan and take him in the middle of the night. Another investigator had no idea that Nathan was one of seven siblings. I was shocked that they would not have more information about my son and his family. Why weren't older siblings contacted and asked questions? At one point an investigator had not realized that I was Nathan's mom. In a raw facebook post I shared "I am his mom. I bore him. I breastfed him. I watched him walk. I listened as he read his first books. I admired the incredible thinking skills he had as they developed. I drove him to Gate testing in the 5th grade and I was called by the teacher who said he had the highest score in the county! I know it's not about me, but I am his MOM dammit!"

Another call came. This time it was from someone asking me to print a media release, sign it and fax it to them immediately that way fliers could be printed with photos of Nathan and information could be out in news reports on the television. I was so numb at this time. I went to the fedex office store to print the email and fax it, but I was so mentally "out of it" that I went to the desk and said to the clerk, "I have a missing son and need to get something printed and faxed and it is very hard for me to do this, would you please help?" She did. Phew. I stood there, staring at this paper. This media release giving permission for my son's personal information to go out on the streets and play on the news. I stood there, staring and thinking, "This should not have happened... this should not be happening". Yet, the paper was signed and faxed.

December 5th. Teams of search parties with dogs and lots of lights searched the hills of Aptos, searching for signs of Nathan.
My facebook status became "going to try to sleep at the end of day 2 of knowing my son is missing... day 3 since it happened..."

By this time, his bike had been found on the cliff near Seacliff beach by a park ranger. That ranger had taken the bike and stored it somewhere, not knowing whose it was. Later, when he saw posters put up about Nathan being missing and heard reports of the missing Aptos teen, he contacted the Sheriff's department. The bike was identified as belonging to Nathan.

Next status, same evening, "i want to hug my son. i want to give him gifts that have that special meaning. i want to stroke his hair and look into his face. i want him to know how very, very important he is to me. i want him to know that each memory of him is so highly valued to me. i want to hug my son. he used to always sing Barry Manilow's I Can't Smile Without You. He is my sappy boy and I love him so very much."

I learned that the last night Nathan was alive, he called a few people. He told them that he was going on an adventure. Nathan had also had a conversation with a mutual friend and had said that he shouldn't be making attachments. Several of us had the sickening feeling inside that he had chosen to end his life, but we held hope that he had just maybe ran away to a friends.

During these first few days I protected my younger sons, Joseph and Victor. In case... just in case... if for some crazy reason he was hiding out, I didn't want my boys to worry. I took the boys to school. I went to work. I kept my phone on, hoping to get good news. I was driving home on December 6th and felt sudden panic. If my fears were founded... if Nathan had chosen to end his life, would he be rejected by God? Dear God, I cried out, tears falling down my cheeks, please save my son's soul. Please!" I felt desperate and sobbed. That evening I shared "My head will not stop hurting today. The hardest thing for me is not watching the facebook pages and checking email and looking at my phone. To close out a page feels painful. To power down the laptop takes every bit of strength."

While logged onto facebook, I began to chat with a close friend, Karla. She met me when I had just one child! She saw every one of my babies shortly after they were born. She knew that Nathan was missing, but I had not shared my fears with her. She did not know the agonizing prayer I had uttered. And it was just amazing what she shared with me:

"I am proud of you....every single day....and now, I have no words, because even my God heart knows that the encouraging words are hollow right now...I am so heartbroken for you and your suffer through THIS...
I know a million things, a trillion TRUTHS I could say....but instead I'm bawling my head out, with the brokenest of hearts desperate for God to bring a MIRACLE!
I feel like 'renting my clothes' and throwing ash on my head....I don't EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS, and I just want to do it...and NOT FOR ME, but with you and your family in my heart....

I guess the Lord is going to give me words....
So, I will speak them.
Speak LIFE.
God said to pray for COMPLETE RESURRECTION for Nathan...PHYSICAL, SPIRITUAL, and EMOTIONAL...and I said, OK!
I am claiming for Nathan and you and your family, COMPLETE RESURRECTION! OVER ALL OF YOU!
I asked Him for a miracle...for your family. His Spirit said SPEAK COMPLETE RESURRECTION, I said, But....and He said, Did I stutter? I said, ON IT!
Satan, you will NOT steal a single soul from this family! CHRISTS BLOOD HAS BOUGHT AND PAID FOR EACH ONE OF THEM! THEY ARE CHRISTS!
I was busy crying and God said, enough! Prayer covering over your body, mind and spirit...I am speaking LIFE into and over YOU as God has GIVEN ME HIS POWER TO DO SO!
You, you rest under His wing, and you restore HIS TRUTHS ABOUT YOU as He sets His Warriors to work!
Do NOT give GROUND to satan as he speaks death...TRUST that God has a miracle in store...and it's His gift to YOU for FIGHTING SO VALIANTLY on your children's behalf!
When death speaks in your ear, know that there is MORE TO LIFE than a BODY...we are fighting for his ETERNAL SOUL! And THAT IS Gods!
You, my dear heart, are COMPLETELY COVERED IN PRAYER and your son and family are lifted up with a MIRACULOUS EXPECTATION, because THAT'S what He said to do! REGARDLESS of the outcome here, on earth...we KNOW that Nathan will be RESURRECTED WITH CHRIST!"

And I responded back to her "karla, this is precious to me and I will write these words out and embrace them and hold them close in my heart forever. Nathan has held many hurts inside and been thru a lot and doubted God exists. He hasn't wanted me to talk about God to him. and that tears me up so badly. and I was begging God in prayer to have mercy on his soul."

Karla prayed nonstop for days. Sometimes it's hard to imagine someone praying that much, but if anyone ever did, it was her at this time! And every time I sat down to check for updates on the computer, Karla was there to talk me through this... minute by minute. I cannot imagine having to go through this time without her.

I believe that it was early the 7th that I received a call from Rebekah, asking if I would drive to Santa Cruz. She, Stephen and Michael were going to be passing out Nathan's missing person flier. Rebekah has been in contact with the media and they wanted to meet me and ask me some questions. I was torn about going. If I didn't go then I would be that mom who didn't care enough to travel 100 miles and pass out fliers and be personally involved. I was also concerned for Joseph and Victor. We all got in the car and as I was about to pull out I got another call.

"Hey, Betty, this is Jill. Do you have a missing son?"

Yep. I told her that Nathan was missing and she said that she and her husband had been watching the morning news and there was a story about a missing Aptos teen and they thought it was my son. Yep.

Down the road we drove. I met Rebekah, Stephen and Michael in Capitola, which is a little village like town on the coast in between Aptos and Santa Cruz. Nathan rode his bike through there regularly. Stores were very willing to post fliers asking for help finding Nathan. I got out of the car and my eyes met with Rebekah's. We hugged each other tight, tears surfacing, feeling the loss, yet hoping we were wrong. I was able to meet up with each of my children that day. At one point several were around me and I made them each look at me... look me in my eyes and I said, "Don't any of you ever do this! I mean it! I do not want to ever go through this again!" That evening when news stories ran they aired an interview with me... the reporter had asked me if Nathan were to glance at a tv and see a news story about him being missing and I was speaking, what would I want to tell him... I said something like I would want him to know that I would make any changes necessary to help him get through this time in his life...

Looking back on that day now I would tell Nathan I love you more than you can imagine and will see you again someday...

1 comment:

Karla Marie said...

Oh, beautiful, precious, strong woman. I love you. <3