Working for the silver lining

Home Archived Opinion Working for the silver lining

Jennifer Rich-Neal

Published: October 11, 2006

Anyone who has ever lost someone close to them knows the feeling of emptiness that follows.  Last year, I lost my mother very suddenly to pnuemonia.  It is obvious that I would miss her; she was my mom.  However, after she died, I realized that more was missing than I thought.

My mother’s side of the family has always been very small.  Just a grandma and an uncle and a bunch of stories with no faces to match.  I heard of a first cousin that I had when I was growing up.  His name is Andy and he belongs to my mother’s brother that went missing back in 1978.  After Uncle Peter “disappeared,” the family lost touch with Andy and his mother, Pam.

As an adult, I began to wonder more and more about this flesh-and-blood connection roaming out there.  Where is Andy?  What is he like?

I decided to kill my curiousity and locate him via the Internet.  It turned out to be one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done.  Since I made that call, I have gained a new friend and an aunt that has sort of “adopted” me.

However, underneath this joyous union still lurked a mystery.  Here we are now over two decades later and still no one knows what happened to Uncle Peter.

The family speculated many things.  Maybe he wanted to disappear, maybe he was murdered, maybe he was battling some demons that we would never undertand.

As tenatious as I can be, I started digging around on the Internet again and found a death record that matched Uncle Pete’s name.

Not wanting to subscribe to the genealogy Web site, I took the name, date of death, and county the death was registered in and made my own phone calls.

After about 20 calls to the medical examiner and police department, I found out Peter’s fate.  He had been murdered in 1998 in Miami, beaten to death by a homeless guy.

Learning this was another dose of tragedy that no one was prepared for but needed to know.

Out of my loss, I gained a whole new family.  It may not be easy, but sometimes you have to work hard for the silver lining.

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