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200 days

The last few weeks have been exceptionally difficult. Does it have to do with the holidays? I can’t tell. If I could just ferret out why I keep finding myself on the edge, I think I could control it better. You know, not tip into the abyss.
I hate having this continual ache because now it seems normal.

I found myself searching ditch banks on my way home from work a couple of days ago. On the way to work each day I see the Calexico cemetery along the way, and it normally doesn’t elicit an emotional reaction, but that day I remembered searching the cemeteries for his body throughout May, thinking maybe his body had not been discovered. Before class. Ugh. Mondays are just difficult. I got it together and was fine till I drove home, and there my brain was, on the ditch banks.

I don’t know what the trigger is. What’s the switch? If I could find it I could duct tape it off, right?

My son is still missing. No one I know has heard from him, and his Facebook account shows no signs of life that I’m aware of.
There’s this tension between dread of knowing the truth and grief at not knowing. Occasionally I find the sweet spot of peace in knowing that this is part of life, suffering is, and that I am not alone, and that I can do meaningful things in the meantime. I give away books, I quilt, I teach, I write.

And other times I forget.
Today I realized afresh how fleeting life is, and how thankful I am to have today, to have irons in the fire, to have things to look forward to. If you’re in my life, I’m thankful for you, too.

Six months missing.

On October 30, our church hosted Celebrate Light, as it does every year. My husband and I manned a booth for Chuck the Chicken, and in between scooping out candy for the kids and dipping down to pick up chucked chickens I scanned the crowd for my son.

The festival was the one time each year that I was pretty sure I’d get to see Jake, no matter how mad he was at me. I guess the church property was neutral ground for him. He wasn’t surly, and one year he actually let me drag him around to introduce him to people, and he lingered afterward, like he didn’t really want to leave. That gave me this wild hope that he’d come around, but he didn’t. It was another year and some months before that happened.

So I found myself looking for him, even though I’ve been pretty sure he isn’t in the Valley. I just…hoped. You know?

He never showed, of course, and I still have no idea where he is. This past week’s been particularly difficult (why!? I don’t understand the randomness)– I’m afraid he’s on the streets, not himself. And it hit me afresh that I may never see him again. That makes me feel lopsided.

When you have your children, you never envision a future without them. It’s incomprehensible. You think they’ll always love you, too. My mother told me this, between the lines in her journal and in person when I visited her the year before she succumbed to cancer. She envisioned me frolicking with her in a meadow on a warm, sunny day.  Yeah, we never frolicked, but I think she tried–I remember shooting the rapids in the aquaducts in LA, and camping at Thomas Hunting Grounds and Deep Creek and Heart Rock.

Then I definitely went my own way.  And on this side of her death, on this side of Jake’s disappearance, I see how hard I was on her.  This is why parents have to stick around. So the kids have time to figure out how to forgive them and love them back.

And of course I now wonder if I’d forgiven her sooner would it have made me a better mom?
What if if if….

Got a ton of those.




The Book of Noticing: You Matter.

Last semester was the first time I showed Angela Maiers’ video You Matter to my students. I had them write a reflection on it, and we briefly discussed it, but it wasn’t till this semester that I tasked students with activating the ideas Angela spoke of. (It was a V8 moment. Kuh! Be the change, Stacy! lol)

I went to the Dollar Tree and bought a bunch of small notebooks and handed them out to my Thursday night class last week, and I assigned it as a month-long project. (Tomorrow my Monday class gets the assignment.) To get credit, they have to notice something every day until the due date.  I do not require more than this because I believe they will go above and beyond.

I’ve assigned this because these students are going to influence the next generation of children. Because they need to know what they say and do matters.  And because they matter to me.

I know if they practice noticing, this will have a ripple effect on everyone, including themselves. And I want them to practice noticing so they’ll be fluent when they have their own classrooms.

I’ve got a notebook, too.  I’ve written on the cover, “Mrs. Bodus’ Book of Noticing.” I carry it with me everywhere now.

Things I’ve written down that I previously would’ve dismissed:
-a young boy held the door for me and my husband at church today.
-Emily in the coffee shop looked me in the eye and asked me how I was and really wanted to know.
-Gaynell asked me how my writing was coming because she’d been praying for me. (This rocked my world, it was so awesome.)
-a waiter was attentive and kind to my Nana, and people waited patiently for us to walk through the doors on our way out.
-my husband bought a book for me by one of my favorite authors.
-Patty Ojeda made a bunch of goodie bags for the women on her 5K team; she had a whole tent set up for us with fruit and muffins and water.

I walk in this garden every day. From now on I’ll pay attention to the flowers.

I don’t know yet how this project will evolve, but I’m looking forward to exploring the possibilities with my students. They are geniuses. I expect to be amazed and delighted.

The language of mattering


*My son, yes, he is still missing. I know people are concerned.
I don’t have any new news to share. And I don’t know how to seamlessly include that information.



This hard thing


You walk this thin line when you’re going through an emotionally dark time. On one side you’ve got an abyss of fear, and on the other is a  pit of despair. You have to let go of things that throw off your balance. If you hold on to a thing that crowds your brain with bleakness, you tip toward the pit; if your imagination does the giddyup, you totter toward the abyss.

Most of the things I’ve let go of are energy sucks.  I ask myself daily, how much energy does this [fear/resentment/thought] cost?

Resentments–woo, out the window, baby.  Ain’t got time to have hurt feelings. Only room enough for one car on the pain train.

Worrying about what other people think–this really took the stuffing out of me this summer. I worried that I was too emotional, not emotional enough, too preoccupied, not preoccupied enough.  I worried about how spiritual, thoughtful, loving, pretty, available, etc., I was. To my brain and my heart, I say, “I’m sorry. It’s enough to be upright.” This stuff’s scattering like the fall leaves I wish we had here in the desert. My version of the fall season, I guess. heh

I’ve been aware of the tightrope, of course,  all summer long. I just didn’t realize what was making my balance so precarious until I let a cool writing opportunity pass me by recently. I could have written an essay about how I teach, but I could not bring myself to do it, and when the due date passed I was disappointed in myself. No, worse than that. I shamed myself. Something so easy, and I balked because I was afraid that 1) I would find out that I do actually suck, and 2) now people would know I sucked.

It took me some noodling to get to the root of my resistance, but when I found it I also understood that this was something interfering with my skittery tightrope walk. It has to go.

At the same time I was working through this, I came across a news video about the bombing in Aleppo. A small child is pulled from the rubble and set on a seat at the back of an ambulance. His face is covered in dirt and blood, and you can tell he’s barely waking up and is not processing anything. He must feel the weight of something on his temple, because he reaches his hand up to touch his head, and when he feels the wetness he pulls his hand back and looks at it briefly. Then he sees that it’s messy and his first thought must be to wipe it clean; he rubs his hand on the seat.

No one is there with him; he sits alone because rescuers are busy digging through the rubble for more survivors. He sits quietly, and his eyes are blank.

I can walk this damn path. It may feel like a tightrope, but it really isn’t. It’s just a hard thing. And what now propels me to write is something I feel self-conscious about, but I’m sharing anyway:  Writing brings income, and I want to spend it helping children like that little one in Aleppo. (I want to add qualifiers (writing potentially brings income) but I will not. Will not.)

I’ll be writing more about the writing process, but will also post any updates about my missing son when I have them. Right now, all I know is that he’s gone, and his body has not been found. I am mostly trusting that he is alive. Some days, you know….


The two videos below resonate with me today.

The Blog of Missing Day 118: An update

Someone asked me where Day 1 was of the Blog of Missing. I started with Day 20, which is kind of a let-down, right? Where’s the beginning? There should be a Day 1. A way to find the genesis of the heartache.

And there should be words for every day of the missingness. We’ve got all the feels every day, and by we, I mean everyone who misses Jake. A post a day keeps the insanity at bay (except there ain’t no sanity clause….)

I don’t know exactly when Day 1 is. I know the first day he left.
I know the last day someone thought they saw him.
I know the first day, approximately, that I started worrying about him before he disappeared.
I know the first day he stopped talking to me three years ago.
I know the day he started talking to me again. And the day he said he forgave me and that he had been mad for dumb things.
I know the day I dropped him off at Denny’s.
I know the last day he called his dead friend’s phone.
I know many significant days.
Which one is the first?

Today marks 118 days since I knew he was safe, had shelter, and he was talking to me.  Now I have hope that he is not dead. I don’t know about shelter, I don’t know his mindset, and I don’t know that he’s safe, but it’s comforting to feel mostly sure that he’s not dead.

This summer two people approached me to ask if I’d been checking Jake’s Facebook. When I said no, they told me that their messages to him in Facebook had been read by someone. I myself have seen that twice. I dismissed it because I believed (and still do) that Jake had sold his laptop. I figured someone had access to his Facebook messages.

I have reason to believe he is at least alive and has access to his Facebook account because I used to be able to see his friends list, and now cannot. A person with access to his account would be indifferent regarding privacy, I think.

You know as much as I do.

I can extrapolate a lot from this info, but I’ve learned I’m usually wrong about stuff when I do that. Too many assumptions.

This. It’s where my head’s at.


I’ve found a website that offers help to those who have been reported missing:

Here’s what the page says:

You might not be ready, want or be able to return home at this time, but still want family or loved ones to know you’re okay. You could be scared of how they might react or be worried about a difficult situation you left behind.
It can be very hard to make that first contact or find the words you want to say to someone, for a range of personal and individual reasons. That is why we have developed our Message Home service.
Remember, we won’t disclose your location if you don’t want us to.
Simply talk to us and provide us with information that will help prove your identity to the person we are passing the message on to, such as your date of birth or any memorable information. We will then get in touch with your family and ask if they’re willing to receive a message from you.
After, they will also be given the opportunity to pass a message back to you and we will check with you first to make sure you are willing to receive the message.
We will never pass on abusive, harmful , threatening or upsetting messages between family members or messages regarding legal or financial matters.
Want to talk? We are free, confidential and available 24/7.

Call or text 116 000


You can text us even if you have no credit left on your mobile phone.

Here is more general information for someone who is missing:


If you are reading this, know that there’s help available, and it’s okay if you don’t want to pass on a message. I love you.

Love, Mom




Missing: 101

101 days. No word. I still don’t know where my son is or if he is okay. I am thankful for people who ask about Jake. Please don’t stop.

I’ve been dragging my feet about posting because it means I have to unbolt the hatch to the compartment where overwhelm lives. Overwhelm is a troll and he gives me the willies.

Today I did a DNA swab, something else I’ve been dragging my feet about because of what it means. It means I’m traveling a landscape littered with dry bones, scoured by dusty winds that leave your eyes scraped and gritty. This desolate country is no place for mothers.

Today the troll is my shadow.

We walk on because we must.
I pray that Jake is, too.

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Empty garden

A few days ago, I told a friend I hadn’t seen in a while about Jake being missing since May 1.
Aghast, she asked, “How are you still sane!?”

Moms always ask me this. Because, you know, they get it. I think every mom imagines this horror a thousand times before her child is a year old. I remember flying up north to see my mother when Jake was 7 months old. In the airport bathroom a stranger offered to watch my son while I went in the stall. A chill prickled over my skin and my brain froze for a second till I remembered that I had him right there with me. He wasn’t even gone but I’d imagined all the possibilities in that second.

Empathy always comforts me. It comforts me when you hug me tightly and tell me you keep me in  your thoughts.
Yes, yes, I always want you to ask about Jake.

I saw a post from little *Kylie Rowand’s mom today that reminded me to pray for her.  She states,

…it is important to us that our child be honored and remembered. It is our biggest fear that our children will be forgotten. They so easily fall off the radar because they aren’t here to engage you anymore. This breaks my heart. If you know of a child who has passed away from cancer, today, please honor them. Say their name. Talk about them. Send a quick note to their family that they were thought of today. That one simple act can change that parent’s entire day.

This is the picture of Kylie I hold in my heart:


This is what has reminded me to take peace and contentment where I find it.
That little baby — I still weep for her, and I don’t even know the family. I don’t know her mom.
But her mom’s faith made relax my grip       –well. The grip I thought I had, the control. No, what do I mean….

It made me unclench my fist. The fist that both holds tightly and expresses anger.

Her mama’s faith inspired me to trust God when my son stopped talking to me. With her baby in one arm, that mama held out her hand to push back death, but she also trusted that everything would be okay.  Kylie would be okay. She would be okay. Even if Kylie was not healed.

It’s so much  … muchness.

Neither Kylie nor her mother ever lost their muchness. And in this whole ordeal I saw the grace of God.

So. Now.

Now my own muchness has been on the line.

I’ve not been insane, but I’ve been contentious, and I’ve felt glued in place in the face of a slowly encroaching mudslide. It’s still coming, and I’m still stuck, although, frankly, with this heat (115!) you’d think the glue would’ve melted. But no. The heat only makes me crabby.

Jake’s still missing.
I’m still grieving.

And I have this line from an Elton John song on repeat in my head:  “Hey, hey, Johnny, won’t you come out to play in your empty garden?”

I’ll be okay, but half my garden is empty.

*Read about Kylie in this Huffington Post article.
Read her aunt’s blog here.
I hope you will remember her, too.

Grief slipstream

The past couple of days have been difficult.

I’m not always skilled at knowing what I’m feeling. And sometimes the feelings have a delayed arrival, so that further complicates things. It’s taken two days for me to recognize that I shifted into the Bad Mom space,  my parallel universe. I’m in the slipstream of grief, and all it takes is a small rock in my path to knock me out of right now into the other.

I discovered in a rarely-used gmail account an email from people who were putting huge effort into finding Jake. It was a request for my input on a map of Jake’s known haunts. They had one small misconception (an old address that is not relevant).
I answered as soon as I read it, of course, but as Jake’d say, that train sailed.

I had to drive to campus yesterday, something I’ve been avoiding without really knowing why.
I understood when I got to Cole Road in Calexico.
Denny’s on Cole Road is where I left Jake. Where I didn’t know I was saying goodbye for longer than a couple of days.

My line of sight was blocked by a mongo semi, and it was my relief at that that made me realize 1) why I’d avoided coming to Calexico, and 2) that I needed to find an alternate route to work.

So now that I’m all current on my feelings I’ve been noodling on what my youngest said about Jake cutting me off three years ago.  (I wrote about that when it happened, here. )

With his extended absence, I waffle between thinking he’s dead, thinking he’s homeless and delirious, or thinking he’s a nomad out to find himself.  The ache’s the same, but the excavation I did three years ago [see link above] is unnecessary this time. This is all mom stuff.

So: navigation. You think you know how to make your way through things.

Love bears.

I gave a baby up for adoption 32 years ago.  [You don’t know what I did there, so I will tell you. I first wrote that I’d given a son up for adoption. I changed it to baby because I’m ambivalent about calling him my son when I didn’t raise him.] Strange, that. Feeling like I don’t have permission to call that baby my son? I don’t even know what that is. When is a child yours?

I wrote about the adoption years ago. Distilled everything down to the two days after delivery. Love bears, is what it comes down to. Love bears all things. Bear the baby and let him go, at birth, or 27 years after.

When Jake was born, four years later, I said, out loud, “I get to keep him.”

Your kids never seem to remember what good stuff you did for them before age 10. I know I don’t remember a lot of what my mother did (but I’ve always thought it was because, you know, she didn’t do much good stuff.) (Wrong-o!)

Mine don’t remember a lot of my being present:  holding Jake’s arthritic knee under warm water when he was a toddler crying from pain; playing hide and shriek in the dark; laying out on the lawn and looking at the stars; cuddling when he’d let me. Not a cuddler, that one.

Or: Swimming in mud. (Not me, thank you.)
jake and josh in mud





Taking a break from mud play for a picture.
When they knew they loved each otherThey knew they loved each other, once.

jake being silly
I hold these still frames tightly, the way I can’t hold my boys. I fooled myself for a while, but now, acceptance is trickling in. Or, well, resignation right now. Real acceptance’ll be later, I guess.

I am counting on this:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NASB
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Bears all things.

My boys: I love you.
This is me, hoping.

The cat must be fed

“The people who say you are not facing reality actually mean that you are not facing their idea of reality. Reality is above all else a variable. With a firm enough commitment, you can sometimes create a reality which did not exist before.” Margaret Halsey

I’m in this godawful weird place where I don’t know how to live my life. I don’t know where to look for my son, I don’t know what waiting looks like, and I still have responsibilities.  I just got a reminder that I need to order books for my classes this fall, another reminder that I have to set a date for an upcoming Kiwanis installation, my cat wants food AND snuggles, and I have a pile of things that require my attention. It’s all my stuff. None of it’s bad. It’s just stuff I need to do.

And yet, when I take shaky steps forward, practice being present, small black shards splinter off inside me.


weeping woman picasso-1937

My youngest son said yesterday, “Mom. You forgot that last time Jake cut you off, he wasn’t going to tell you then, either. You found out by accident. Remember?” I haven’t really processed this statement. I don’t even know how. Is Jake being a nomad, or is he dead? Is he all right? Does he have enough to eat?


[See painting and info here.]


Reality is…all the shards.