This doesn’t happen to real people.

I got a forward this morning that has put me into a bit of a funk. I almost deleted it even before opening it, thinking it was spam, but then I stopped. It was a YouTube video forward, which was odd. Normally the only spam I get at work relates to books or events that someone wants us to publish in our magazine. So I opened it.

As soon as I did, I realized who it was from. Carolyn Johnson is a woman we work with here at the office. I don’t know her well, but I do know her personally, which is what made her email especially disturbing. It said:

I really don’t believe in forwarding email or sending out stuff that I know people really don’t want. However this is a You Tube video of my son. Clinton Devon Nelson went missing on 9/1/2006 from Princeton Louisiana. We are desperately seeking answers as to what happened to him. I am asking two things of you – 1st please pray for answers. 2nd please forward this email to everyone that you can. We are not having a lot of luck getting this information out on a national level, so if we start sending it by email, maybe someone will recognize him…and can fill us in on what happened over 15 months ago! Please help our family find the answers that we need.

Attached was a link to a YouTube video.

This begs so many questions, even in addition to the ones that Carolyn and her family must all be asking about where, how, and why their son disappeared. It makes me wonder why one missing person is so much more important than any other. Why does Natalie Holloway or Stacy Peterson or whoever else is in headlines these days deserve national coverage and international investigation where this one does not? And this is obviously not the only one – supermarket entry walls are still lined with Missing Persons posters.

I’m sure there isn’t a good answer to that question, but it remains heartbreaking. I can look at Missing Persons posters without batting an eyelash. I can delete forwarded emails like this from people I don’t know without a lick of guilt. But it seems different when you know someone involved, it seems more real and more possible.

Was her son a good kid, I wonder? Did he have bad habits or bad friends or was he just minding his own business? I have no idea, and I probably won’t ever know, because those details really aren’t any of my business at all. But it breaks my heart to imagine how unresolved his family must feel.

I wish my last couple blog entries weren’t so depressing. I truly believe that this time of year is more depressing than all the rest. Expectations and disappointments are higher than any other time of the year. Wants and especially needs are felt so much more keenly while the privileged of the world indulge in greater excesses. For every person who feels a heightened sense of love and connection with his family and all mankind, there are dozens who feel more lonely. Contrary to popular belief, suicide rates do not rise in December, but they do spike on New Years Day, just as the holidays are winding down.

Cynical? Absolutely. But also well-researched. My life has become a lot less stressful during December since I stopped celebrating Christmas because of my own religious objections, but some of the pressures and stresses still can’t be avoided.

I digress. I’m not going to wind this post up with any sort of call to action – I don’t think that asking people to reflect on the woes of the world will really help anything. But I did want to get Carolyn’s video out here, because you never know who might read this.

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