Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Another Look at Chico

Tuesday September 25th the last day of this 2012 Road Tour. We have three stops today, and then we head back to Los Angeles for a few hours of sleep before we head home. The time has gone quickly, but it seems as if I left home years ago.

The rally stop this morning is for Heidi Ring and is in Chico California. We pull up to a beautiful park that is kind of in the center of town, so there is a lot of car traffic and pedestrian traffic which is always a good thing. It is a beautiful California day and as we hop out of the van we are met with big hugs from Heidi's mom; her brother and sister follow closely behind. I think immediately of the one (Heidi) who is not there, and I remember what that feels like.

Visually this stop makes you stop and take it all in, the park setting, the balloons, the river, the beautiful sign in table and handcrafted thank yous. All of this done so lovingly for Heidi. The media arrives and the event begins with prayer and then family members and friends speak about Heidi and her disappearance.

What strikes me this morning as it does so often at these stops is that today in this moment for this family, there is more going on than an awareness campaign, there is more going on than the reminding of a community, town and yes law enforcement that one of their own is still missing. All of which is vitally important. For the families though, these moments at their stop is also about honoring their loved one and celebrating who they are, something they don't get to do quite often. It is a time to stop and remember.

I stand in the back taking pictures and I am able to get a sense of who Heidi is by the way everyone speaks. Today for some reason though the word why keeps running through my head. Why so many?, Why this family? Why my family? Why the pain, why the suffering? There is no answer, but there is hope! I am reminded that through the unknowing and the pain and emotional roller coaster we as family ride, there are many blessing and graces disguised on this journey, we sometimes just need to look for them. I know this tour and CUE and a woman named Monica and all her selfless volunteers are a blessing and that grace disguised in my own life and the lives of many others on this journey.

I am reminded as well as I stand and listen and take it all in that this is where my faith comes in. That is how I got and continue to get through, my God and His amazing unconditional love, and knowing that I never was or ever am alone in any of this. In speaking with other family's I know this to be true for others as well. Sometimes that faith and that love are what we need to trust in and at many times it is the only thing there is.

We head to the river with our leaves on which we have each written something. We release the leaves and it seems as if each one of us gathered together for a brief moment are alone, alone in our thoughts and our prayers as we let the leaves go down the river. It is a beautiful moment, one that I won't soon forget.

Heading back to pack up and leave Heidi's mom and her sister look at the balloons still tied to the tree and they ask me to hold them as they pop them with great force and tenacity. I oblige and a smile comes across my face as they begin to laugh as they tear these balloons apart, it is a much needed release. They ask if I would like to try one and I do, just one though and it really does feel good. We hug and say goodbye and head off to the next stop, all this and the day has just begun.
Lisa Valentino

For those reading this blog it should be noted that Heidi Rings remains were positively identified on October 10th. Please remember Heidi and her family in your prayers.

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