Thursday, January 25, 2007

Remembering Another One

One year ago yesterday, the young Orlando lady pictured below, Jennifer Kesse, disappeared and has not been seen since.

She called her boyfriend (who lives in Ft. Lauderdale) on the evening of Jan. 23rd, then failed to show up for work the next morning. Her car was found in an apartment complex parking lot less than a mile from her home. Her parents live two and half to three hours away in Bradenton, but, says the 3-part Sentinel article,

For four straight months, Joyce and Drew Kesse did not leave Orlando. They didn't work, couldn't eat and rarely slept. In the early days they even felt guilty having the 'luxury' to shower and shave.

Drew lost 30 pounds.

Joyce functioned in a fog. Anti-anxiety medication kept her going....

For 110 days, Drew and Joyce stood at the intersection of John Young Parkway and Conroy Road at rush hour, waving their signs to the long line of drivers. They took fliers to bars and check-cashing stores. Joyce went to indigent clinics, homeless shelters and seedy hotels. She went door to door at Huntington on the Green, where Jenn's car had been found.

"Please do not tell me that no one in that complex saw anything," she says, angry. "Her car was dropped off at noon."

In late May, the couple slept in their own bed for the first time. It was the weekend of Jennifer's 25th birthday...Joyce Kesse has this recurring dream. Jennifer is home at long last, lying in her bed, Joyce next to her. Drew and Logan and Rob are all sleeping on the floor around her, just as Jenn has asked. She is fragile and thin, her skin pale and her sandy blond hair matted. But she is unhurt. She even tries to reassure them.

It wasn't as bad for me as it was for you, she is saying. You were left not knowing.

In October, in the wee hours of the morning, the phone rang, and the voice on the other end said, "Mom?" Then the line went dead. "I would have bet my life it was Jenn," said her mother. She immediately called police. By noon, detectives in Michigan had arrested the caller, who had become obsessed with the case.

Twice last month, Joyce awakened in the middle of the night to check on Jenn in her bedroom. She was halfway up the stairs before she remembered: She's still gone."

You can sometimes still see the parents on that street corner waving their signs. They make frequent trips to Orlando. The mother had hopes of a Christmas miracle, as with the finding of those two boys in Missouri. It didn't come, and "For two weeks, she couldn't drag herself out of bed until noon. She didn't bother changing out of her pajamas."

Jennifer's father, Drew, says that

"We pray everyday. But I'll tell you this much: He and I are having some discussions. We're not on the same page right now."

Drew stops. His face hardens. "I have to wonder," he says after a moment, "is He listening?"

And so goes the desolation that descends upon parents whose child has vanished.

The website maintained by her parents.


Anonymous said...

The problem with reading your blog (as well as your book), Bill, is that sometimes it is just too real, and too painful for being too real. And it brings close, too close, the thing that I have been, and the things I could have been, and the thing that I could become.

God help her father. (And her mother too, of course).

St. Anthony, if ever there was a time for the charism of finding that time is now.

William Luse said...

Whatever you could have been, God made something better of it, and He won't let you go gently.

It's funny. We sent Elizabeth several emails and text messages. Nothing for 3 days. I wonder why. Worry lines come into her mother's face. Day after day I ask, "Any word from the kid?" She shakes her head in a baffled and angry silence. So tonight I get pissed and call her. No answer. I leave a message: "Send a signal of some kind that you're still alive." A few minutes later a text message arrives: "I'm alive." :~D
Partly this is due to the expectations created by modern communications; partly it's knowledge of the ubiquity of evil in our time. You try not to think about things, but there's no helping it.