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Peace, love and rescue

September 22, 2009

The school year has started and my days begin in darkness.

The alarm on my Blackberry chimes at 6 a.m., and my habit is to scan my e-mails through half-open eyes after hitting snooze. Then, I usually try to stretch the night out by 10 more minutes, to temporarily ward off the onslaught of breakfast and lunch prep, homework and school clothes wrangling, herding the kids like cats to the car …

On Sept. 10, however, I was shocked awake by the headline I read on my Blackberry screen: “Wife of lost hunter: I just want him home.”

Below that, the subhead included a name our family knows well. My heart sank.

Edna Nadel was Graysen’s daycare provider for three years. With the exception of a couple of girls over those years, Edna was followed about by a wide-eyed gaggle of little boys. She and I often joked that she should rename her daycare “Edna’s school for boys.”

She helped us raise our little spitfire son, and also saved my sanity regularly. If I had to work late she would feed Gray and hang out with him until I arrived. I never had to worry about paying a dollar for every minute I was late, though she was certainly worth such a fee.

Edna’s teenage daughter, who was home-schooled until she started attending the community college, was often around. Gray had stars in his eyes for “Tritrin” (Kristen) from a very young age. All the little boys did, in fact.

Then, there was Edna’s husband, Mel. He was a calm counterpoint to his wife’s energy. Some evenings after I arrived I’d chat with Edna as she made dinner. She moved quickly through her kitchen, often talking faster than she cooked. She expertly moved from one thing (chopping vegetables, for instance) to something entirely unrelated (rationing goodies from the candy dish Gray was honing in on) without missing a beat. When Mel was there he’d just watch her silently, a loving smile on his face.

Now, Mel is gone. He vanished two weeks ago in the Pecos wilderness while on a hunting trip. When I read the headline that dark morning I was stunned. When I logged on to the computer a short while later to read the article, I was heartbroken. Alongside the article was a picture of Edna, sitting in her living room with her head in her hands.

“She’s sad because she lost her Mel?” Gray asked me, his brows furrowed in concern, after he saw the picture.

A week after his disappearance, a search party was organized by friends of the family to pick up where the State Police were leaving off. With no clues and nothing to go on, the official search came to an end.

When Chris heard about the new search he decided to join them.

Later, as he was making a list of things to take for the day I realized something rather earth-shattering: We have a child who is old enough, and wise enough, to go out on a such a mission. I turned to Soren and heard myself asking if he wanted to go too.

It was one of those surreal mothering moments in which you realize that your kid is [thisclose] to being an adult. I imagined for a second that my question about the search was akin to asking him what he wanted for his first legal drink.

It was a rite-of-passage moment … for both of us.

Soren’s eyes widened and he hesitantly said yes. Chris and I warned him of the strenuous nature of the search. Told him it could rain. Told him he could end up walking for a long time. Told him he might not find anything.

Also told him that he might.

As we talked, Soren seemed to slouch a bit less and straighten his shoulders a bit more. He said he wanted to go, and of that he was certain.

He and Chris packed daybags, dug out wool socks, gathered snacks, replaced flashlight batteries and went to bed early.

Before the sun was up the next morning, they were gone.

A few times that day I cast my eyes toward the mountains where they were searching. I also recalled an afternoon one year ago when Chris and I took the younger kids and the dog up to the mountains in the Pecos for some exploration and stream play. That evening, the late summer light caught motes of the tiniest bugs, and cast everything in a sheen of gold. The kids ran and played with their dog through the thick grass, and picked some late season wildflowers. At one point, just before leaving, Graysen and Chiara were playing in a lovely puddle on the dirt road above the stream when we heard a vehicle coming down from the mountain. We all moved off to the side to wait for it to pass, and were surprised when, instead, it stopped. The window went down and there was Mel, decked out in his camo, smiling at us. We said a brief hello and he waved at Graysen, who did a double take­ — it took Gray a minute to make sense of seeing Mel out of context.

Then, with a smile, Mel waved goodbye.

It’s a very small, almost forgettable moment from the past that has taken on a new meaning now. And as I waited last week for my own boys to return home, the hopeful sentiment Kristen posted to her Facebook page after her dad went missing — peace, love and rescue — came to mind and became my mantra.

Now, another week has passed and Mel is still missing. None of the search parties have turned up any clues. Edna, Kristen and all who know and love them are still waiting, still hoping, still praying. Peace, love and rescue. If you’d like to know more or help out, please visit: http://www.findmel.webs.com.

© 2009 Ana June. All rights reserved.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. emma permalink
    September 25, 2009 8:58 am

    Moved by your expertise in expressing your thoughts, I am emotionally compelled to do the same. I never met Mel, but I know for a fact that he would do anything for Edna and his Kristen. I am a first cousin of Edna, she is a lot younger than I am; we never had a chance to be close but because my father is the oldest of the family, he took care of his siblings and Edna’s mother is one of them. I am close to Edna’s mother, because I continued the legacy that my father had tried to give to me. As hardworking as she is, Edna had gone from one country to another till she met Mel in Fort Lauderdale. My sister was the cupid. Then they moved to New Mexico. Here and there, we talked on the phone. We lost contact because of her busy work and my busy schedule.
    It is sad that I was not able to even know Mel personally. Since this happened, I was in contact with Edna more often. We all have been praying for the safe return of Mel. I do still hope that he will finally come home. Thank you for the time…I appreciate you.
    Best,
    emma

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