Saturday, August 16, 2014

Published 9:30 AM by with 0 comment

Missing children: When Things Hit Home

On February 14, 2000 I was not yet a parent. I’d only been married about seven months to a friend I’d known since 1989. One of the flower girls in our wedding was his niece. She was only nine. My husband is from a small city just under an hour from Charlotte, NC. We had just driven there (Shelby) for Christmas in 2000 to celebrate with family.

That was the last time my husband and I saw her.

Last week I was twisting our daughter’s hair while watching the news. A six-year-old girl was missing from Bremerton, Washington. Myriad other children have been missing since February 14, 2000 and it always conjures up thoughts and emotions each time but… this day was August 5th. I continued to twist her hair while she hummed a song and read texts on her phone.

“Today is Asha’s birthday. She would be 24 today,” I softly said trying to hold back tears.

The humming stopped. Her thumb froze above the screen on her phone.

We were both quiet for a moment. The news reporter, on TV, continued to talk about the missing girl.

Our daughter is 13 now and our youngest is 11. They’ve never met their cousin. But they know about her. They’ve grown up seeing photos of her in my in-laws’ homes, our home and on the buttons worn everyday by her parents and older brother.

I remember February 14, 2000 clearly. Getting the call. Riding with my husband to Shelby. Not much was said. He was way over the speed limit but I didn’t dare say anything. She’s at a friend’s house and scared to come out, I thought as we got closer. It was so weird to see all the people outside and helicopter above as we pulled into my sister and brother-in-law’s driveway. I was still confident that we’d find her. At a friend’s or other relative’s house.

The experience impacted us when we had our daughter the next year. I remember looking at apartments when she was just one. Nice place but we quickly said no once the agent informed us that there was only one available. One huge problem: the windows were easily accessible.

We didn’t and still don’t know exactly what happened to our niece. Over the years we have probably seemed overprotective with our two kids. Everyone has a story. When our daughter turned nine, I worried a lot. I didn’t share that with anyone. I felt crazy feeling that way. I thought she would go missing.

Seeing the stories in the news about the missing who have been found alive over the last few years does give hope. Unfortunately, I later read, on AOL, that police found the body of the missing girl from Washington.

I often wonder how Asha’s parents and brother feel about that. I never ask. When any missing person is found but not alive, it is horrifying but those parents and family have some type of closure.

If you have information about Asha or any other missing person please call your local police, Sheriff’s office or contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Their 24-Hour Call Center is 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678). The website is


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