I grew up in a family with parents that did not read much. My Mother struggled through school with learning disabilities, she has food allergies too… thanks Mom. I never saw my Dad pick up a book until he was in his 70′s. They were big newspaper readers. We had a paper delivered in the morning and again in the afternoon. At a young age, I became a newspaper reader too. Growing up in the suburbs of New York City I was forever changed by the Son of Sam case, Elvis’s Death, and the disappearance of Etan Patz.
I was 12 years old when Etan disappeared. The newspaper accounts of that time talked of him just vanishing into thin air. I remember being terrified. My optimistic self kept imagining scenarios when awake late at night of Etan running from his evil captors and the world rejoicing in his return. Days, weeks, months, and years passed.
I remember looking at Etan’s face on the milk carton staring back at me as I ate my breakfast in high school. I looked into his face wondering, where are you? Remembering how he looked in case I ran into him in suburban New York. In the 80s they started posting age adjusted pictures of him on the milk cartons. Still no one could find him. I can vaguely remember him being in and out of the news in the late 80′s and 90′s. Eventually science changed the police tried to put together what happened to Etan. His babysitters boyfriend confessed to another inmate in jail.
A few years ago there was a TV special about the 30th anniversary of Etan’s disappearance. I watched it curious to hear any new news on the case. His poor parents still in tears after 30 years. Living in the same apartment with the same phone number just in case he remembered and wanted to come home. I cried while his father talked about the years since his sons disappearance. Not having closure after all those years has to change a family. Etan had siblings. I wonder about them.
This morning I was fast forwarding through the news on the DVR to see the weather. Next to me was my 6yo his warm little body snuggled between my husband and I. I saw the piece about the police thinking they may have found where Etan was killed. I saw the old footage and it astounded me that so much time had passed and they never could charge anyone with this crime although they have a jailhouse confession. As I saw pictures of Etan on TV today I snuggled my 6 year old a little closer. I was a little more patient with his morning shenanigans even though I got home from work just a few hours earlier. Today I indulged in the rarely used tactic of driving the kids to school. I watched them walk into school, and they took a little piece of my heart with them. I imagine it is how Etan’s Mom felt as he went to the bus stop alone for the first time on that fateful spring morning.