Excited about being the first stop of the tour and always ready to see those you have known so long we set out to the court house. Upon arrival Donna's parents greeting us before we could fully get out of the vehicle, they were so grateful and excited the road tour had finally arrived. The street side walk was lined with signs crying out with pleas from the ones who love Donna Jou in an effort to seek justice, in the middle of it all their was a large banner with the picture of Donna and her missing information displayed. I stopped briefly and take in a large breathe of air, fighting back any emotion of the years of pain I personally know that this family has endured, allowing a flood of memories to enter of different moments I have shared with several loved ones of Donna including her parents.
Immediately we go into action setting up other tour displays and distributing press kits and information. After the press conference and interviews are complete we move to the center flooring of the court house square to release the balloons, a few words from spoken, a very nice heartfelt prayer, we launch the balloons, up and away they go, some did not travel as far as the others, but it was ok.
Then out of nowhere a cry, straight from the depths of a wounded soul and as loud as a fire truck screaming through the streets, Donna's mom begins to cry out for her daughter, she cried out for the years of holding in the pain and being strong, she cried out for mercy in her search for her daughter....it hurts and stopped each person in attendance in their tracks, as if a moment in time just became frozen!
I think each person there and even those passing where rocked to their core, some becoming upset themselves and joining this mother in her grief. I went to her, spoke in her ear the entire time I held her, speaking words I knew she needed to hear and words she trusted when coming from me, the trusted words she is familiar with over the years built in our journey together searching for Donna Jou, she finally became calm; but the pain of what this family has and still suffers.... now, raw again and that never goes away for any family who has a missing loved one.
We stayed longer at this stop than we were scheduled to, it was needed. We began to pack up and prepare for leaving to the next stop, this is the part I hate....the families begin to look at you, that gleem of desperation sometimes can be so strong it almost sucks the air right from you, something over time you just get use too, or at least try too....I do not think you ever can really, I think we just maybe condition ourselves to recognize it. Nonetheless that eye to eye connection now has arrived and Donna's father began to fall apart, he is so broken in private moments. In front of the world, he is that tower of strength determined to find his daughter. We could not leave yet because he needed that same embrace and words just as Donna's mother did just a half hour prior, he needed his release just a little more in private, so we gave that to him.
Emotionally wiped out and now driving off into the jungle of traffic ahead it was very had to speak a word, it was very hard to grasp a single thought of anything other than what just had taken place in the last few hours....it was just a hard time. Then someone finally speaks to make a funny comments and the mood changes and we are entering on the highway and gaining ground to the next stop, for me silently my mind is swirling with the agony we just left behind us, I find myself already missing the family of Donna Jou, that feeling stayed with me for several hours that day.