Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Another Look at Burlington

Another day on the road, the days go quickly as we encounter so much in such a relatively short period of time.  I am a little tired this morning and am realizing that it is not due to late nights and early mornings, but rather all the emotions that have been running through me these past few days. You can't help but feel emotional meeting these families and hearing their stories, listening and hoping and most of all praying that the answers and resolution they seek will be forthcoming and soon!

We leave our hotel and head to Burlington Washington, this stop is for Patty Krieger. We pull into the parking lot of the tire store where the rally stop is being held and are faced immediately with a larger than life poster of Patty. The stop is on a main highway and there is a lot of traffic which is a good thing.

Patty has been missing for almost 2 years and the pain is as real now as it was then, I see it in her family and friends faces and hear it in their words. I know I have said it before, this pain, this not knowing, the constant guessing and what ifs and the feelings all of that brings do not lessen in 2 years or 25 years; it remains the same. We as families learn to live with that pain, but it does not go away and we don't just forget or move on as some may suggest we do. This is real life, it's our life.

More people start arriving and balloons begin to get blown up. On the street as cars pass by they hold posters of their missing loved ones and I remember doing the same and how that feels, needing and wanting to do something and hoping that our loved ones get the attention that is so necessary. I come upon a mother, Ruth Sine whose son Bobby is missing and came to this event to get the word out once again. My heart breaks, it is so hard, this never becomes easier. I hug her and we speak briefly and I offer prayers.

We head over to a large open space for this balloon release and Monica gets in the middle to speak of the significance of the release as she does at so many stops. Somehow this feels different today. I am looking at these faces gathered in the circle through the lens of a camera and I begin to tear up. I notice the reporter from the news station who has been interviewing these families tear up as well. He has been affected, he has experienced a bit of what these families and friends go through on a daily basis and he is visibly moved. This is a day he won't soon forget a day perhaps that changes him.

As the balloons are released no one is in a hurry to take their eyes off them as they head up into the atmosphere. They all stare upwards and hug and hold on to one another as they remember their missing loved one. There is a long period of silence and I move away to the side, I do not want to be intrusive. Soon all begin to move and head back to pack up their posters and sign the Road Tour banner, then get in their cars and continue on in their lives as best they can.

I believe that most if not all present today leave with a renewed sense of hope and understanding. In this hour that passed Patty and Bobby and many others were not just remembered, but honored. I leave this stop as well changed and hopeful and honored to have shared such a personal moment with so many. I realize as we leave that my life is forever changed, not just because of the loss of my sister Allison, but because of all the people I have met and continue to meet on this journey. I am blessed!

Lisa Valentino

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