From a supporter
Our son Andrew Gosden went missing aged 14 in 2007. His 18th birthday is on the 10th July 2011 and in all that time we have had no confirmable news or sighting of him.
Last night, our friend Sandy called round to tell us the good news that he has secured a place on the course he wanted to pursue and that he now has the next 3 years of his life planned. His enthusiasm and joy are always infectious and this occasion was no different. We could not be more pleased for him nor more impressed by his achievement of obtaining a place on a course for which competition is fierce.
Sandy and Andrew spent a good deal of time together growing up. I remember their X-Box and Playstation battles, sleepovers, snooker games and church activities with one another.
Now, as I reflect on Sandy’s achievement, I cannot help but wonder what I have missed in my son’s life. Most likely, we would have seen him tackle GCSE’s and A-Levels, apply to University, take his driving test. There would have been so much time working and enjoying life together. Birthdays to celebrate, Christmas gifts for him, holidays together. I know my wife and daughter were having the same thoughts, but no-one dares share them for fear of upsetting one another.
All this normality has instead been replaced by years of searching, leafleting, media interviews, email campaigns, sonar scanning for his body in the Thames. Normality has been replaced by depression, anxiety, fear, frustration... the list seems endless. And most recently the results of the Police commissioned forensic psychology report accords with our own worst fears; the odds would suggest that our son is dead. But of course, we cannot know for certain as there is no body, so remain in limbo.
Should you happen to read this blog and have children of your own, I beg you to take a moment and consider how you might feel if it were your child. What would you be missing in your life? Could you afford to hold onto any hope of an answer? How should you construct the future without knowing where your child is? Is it possible to ever escape the fears, depression and sadness to return to anything that ever feels right again?
The charity Missing People has recently been instrumental in achieving the first ever Parliamentary Inquiry into services for the families of missing loved ones. There are many issues, emotional, practical, legal, financial. If my words here have touched you, perhaps made you pause for thought, I would beg you to visit their website and consider what support you could give. Perhaps a donation, perhaps a letter or message of support, perhaps a few minutes looking at the faces of the missing and asking yourself if you could have seen one of them? Maybe you could share their website address on your social network page and help to raise awareness of both the wider issues and of the thousands of individuals affected so profoundly.
Please take a moment to wonder what it is like if you don’t know what you’re missing...