Last night at work I had a friend ask me, “What REALLY happened with the Silver Alert?” (Thank you Michele for inspiring me to finally write about this)
At the time my son, Marc, was missing, my ex-husband was calling me and telling me not to post about our son, Marc, on my Facebook or my blog. After twenty years of being told what I should and could, or could not do, I cowered and complied.
I am not proud that he still has the ability to shut me down.
After the fact, I ended up writing a post on my blog about Marc being missing and how I wanted to lose weight. Probably the worst post I have ever written… nonetheless, I was in a bad head-space and I posted it anyway, not wanting to reveal any details as my ex-husband had instructed.
Marc loves his dad and is very protective of him. No matter what John and I do for Marc, we will never be able to give enough for Marc to accept John and I as a couple.
Fifteen is a tough age. I remember it all too well. I remember feeling that I was as big in stature as most adults… and also feeling that I knew it all and could do anything that adults do.
This combination leads to some pretty bad decision-making on the part of a fifteen year old.
I know it all too well, yet as a parent it doesn’t make it any easier.
Prior to the actual Silver Alert, Marc was making comments for weeks about going to live in New York.
I called my ex-husband.
“Marc is saying that he’s moving to New York.” I stated.
“Don’t worry about it Erin,” He replied, “Marc has no money to get there. He’s just talking. Let it go.”
And, I did.
Until Marc came in my room to borrow my computer and check the train schedule.
I sent a text to his father, who replied, “Don’t worry. He’s just talking shit.”
I knew that Marc didn’t have the money to leave the state, so I just chalked it up as an attempt to get under my skin and I let it go, as my ex had instructed.
I returned from work on a Friday night and Marc was gone. I questioned his brothers who told me that Marc was in New York with his friend Angel who lived in the Bronx.
I was surprised but comforted that they knew where Marc was.
Angel is my Landlord’s nephew. I knew that Marc was safe and I was ready to ride out the latest chapter in parenting a teen who was irreversibly affected by both domestic violence and divorce.
I worked a double on Saturday, feeling a bit out of sorts. I checked with Rocky and Kevin who both told me that Marc would be home on Sunday night and at school Monday morning.
Saturday night I awoke from a deep sleep in the middle of the night. I walked into Marc’s room. I had no idea why I did, but I have become in tune with my sixth sense.
The room was dark and empty. I glanced at the entertainment center and confirmed the reason that I had gotten up in the first place… both his T.V. and PlayStation were gone.
“John!” I yelled, “Marc hocked his T.V. and PlayStation. They’re gone. He’s not coming home.”
I was petrified and full of fear.
I began to cry.
That turned out to be a long night of tears, worry and no sleep.
On Sunday, Marc texted me saying that he was hungry and wanted some food.
“Where are you Marc?” I texted in reply.
“In the Bronx with Angel.” Marc replied, “Can you send me some pizza?”
Part of me felt like not enabling him and letting he deal with the decisions he made. The mother in me couldn’t stand the thought of eating without knowing that my child had been fed.
“Call me.” I texted, “I need the address where you are so I can send the pizza.
My cell phone rang.
“Mom, I’m almost out of minutes. Here’s the address. Please send me something to eat. I’m starving.”
I dialed the number Marc had given to me and placed an order for wings, two pizzas, cinnamon sticks and a bottle of soda, as I listed off what I thought to be the delivery address.
The woman at Domino’s Pizza put me on hold for a ridiculous amount of time.
Finally she returned to the phone.
“Ma’am, the address that you gave me is our address.” She stated, “”Do you still want me to go through with the order?”
“Yes,” I replied. “My son will come and pick it up. I said realizing that Marc must be in walking distance of this Dominos.
“I ordered the food,” I texted Marc when his order had been placed.
“Thank you, Mom. I’m not coming back home.” He said, “I’m almost out of cell phone minutes and I’m going to live with a friend in Manhattan who used to go to my school. His family owns a restaurant and I’m going to wait tables.”
“Marc, you’re fifteen. What do you know about waiting tables?” I yelled, “You have school tomorrow!”
Marc hung up.
Talk about stress.
I should have never listened to my ex… if this kid runs out of phone minutes, I’ve lost him.
“Okay, we’re going to the police station now!” I yelled, as John hurriedly got his shoes on and grabbed his car keys.
Kevin flew into the room.
“Mom, my girlfriend Anna is on the way here to meet the family for the first time! Please don’t involve the police! We have to pick her up at the train station in forty-five minutes… how long is this going to take at the police station?” He pleaded.
“Kevin, your brother is missing! Anna is just going to have to get used to our crazy lives. I have to go, I’m worried about Marc.” I said, as I rushed out of the front door.
Once at the police station, I realized that I had to pee.
“I’m going to the bathroom.” I told John.
“Okay.” He said, sitting in a chair in the waiting room, settling in for the long haul.
When I returned a few minutes later, another person was at the window, stating their complaint.
“Seriously John, we are supposed to meet Kevin’s girlfriend for the first time. Couldn’t you have taken the next spot in line while I had to pee?” I asked in desperation.
“I didn’t know what you wanted me to do.” John replied.
I sighed and took a seat in a hard chair in front of the vending machines.
The person next up at the window, (Not us of course) rattled off his name, date of birth and street address for all to hear, as we sat in the lobby.
“Did he just say that he lives on the same street as we do?” I whispered to John.
“Yes.” John whispered in reply.
What are the odds, I mumbled.
“I don’t know why you couldn’t have taken the next place in line while I was in the bathroom.” I said, annoyed and as stressed as I could possibly be, “We have to pick Anna up from the train station in less than forty-five minutes and I’m sick to my stomach about Marc.”
The guy on the same street as us began to file his complaint.
“I believe that someone shot a beebee gun at the siding on my house. There is a dent to prove it.” He said, as if it was the most important crime of the century.
It took all of the strength that I could muster not to yell, “MY CHILD IS MISSING AND ALMOST OUT OF PHONE MINUTES! IF I DON’T ACT FAST I CAN LOSE HIM FOREVER!”
But I sat quietly, rolling my eyes.
Finally it was our turn at the window.
I had the chance to vent and tell my story about my missing fifteen year old son and my emotions began to get the better of me.
The officer told me to please take a seat, and I complied.
I was worried for Marc.
I felt bad that I was ruining Kevin’s girlfriend’s first visit.
I was afraid and I wanted someone, anyone, to tell what to do.
Behind closed doors, I heard the officers talking about who was going to take what case.
I held my head in my hands, tapping my foot as I waited for my name to be called.
“Mrs. Reed.” The officer said as he lead us to a private room.
“So was it a toss-up between who took the dented siding and who took the missing child case?” I asked in jest.
“Actually, it was.” The officer laughed.
“Well I think that you might have drawn the short straw.” I said, as I began to fill him in on all of the details.
Before long, both my strength and my sense of humor began to fall by the wayside as I was overcome with fear and concern.
After I answered all of the questions, I sat and cried.
My fifteen year old son was in a bad section of the Bronx and he was telling me that he wasn’t coming home. He was almost out of phone minutes and I had no idea what I would do if I lost all contact with him.
“Where did you send the pizza?” The officer asked.
I gave him the address of Domino’s Pizza which I knew was in walking distance of where my son was.
“At this point, we have to file a Silver Alert.” He replied, “He’s only fifteen years old.”
“A Silver Alert?” I asked, “Can I call my eighty-two year old mother before she sees it on TV?”
“You can.” He replied, “And you probably should. It’s just procedure, but the alert will be on television, radio and social media, nationwide.”
I called my mother and broke the news.
My mother was so distressed.
And just for the record, that conversation alone broke my heart.
The police contacted my son on the few minutes that he had left on his cell phone and made sure that he was on the next train and on his way home.
My ex-husband retrieved Marc from the train station and the police met them at my house.
Marc was home and safe…
Angry about the police involvement.
Angry with me.
But home (thank God) nonetheless.
Anna embraced the situation for what it was and took it all in stride.
I like that Anna.
I guess if you’ve never been there, you will never know what it’s like to deal with not only your own, but everyone else’s growing pains, confusion, longing for affirmation through love and attention, and the need to heard.
I get it.
Life is hard and beautiful all at the same time.
Face your fears,
Let go of your judgement,
Don’t be afraid to call on your humor,
And live through your heart.
It will never let you down yet.
I have made it this far and for the grace of God, so will my kids.
Keep fighting the good fight… it’s always worth it in the end.
Erin Cooper Reed