I lived in New York City in 1979 when Etan Patz first went missing. I saw all the posters of that beautiful mop-headed little boy with his innocent eyes and his toothy grin. If bad things like that had happened before, I wasn’t aware of them. In 1979 I had graduated from college and was working in the City and my world, like so many other people, turned inside out.
No one could imagine such a horrific thing like that happening, of course he would be found, we thought. I am now a mother of two teenagers, reading after all these years that a man, whom they suspected years ago, confessed to the murder. Why? Why did he confess to it now (and is it true?) and wasn’t he a suspect in 1979 and if so, why didn’t the police follow-up on that lead? I’m very confused.
How much grief should Etan’s parents and family have to go through? Etan has been dead, missing, gone for so many years now yet even reading the article still pains me and I never knew him personally. We were just part of one big community together, he and I and thousands of others, “New Yorker’s.”
His name was a household phrase, I still see the image of his mom’s face in 1979 inscribed in my memory, Etan’s picture on posters ingrained in my brain. As a parent, would I feel any better NOW knowing for sure that after so many years this disgusting man was the perpetrator of the crime? What good can come of it now except to bring closure to the already suffering parents?
What about now? Did Etan have siblings, boys, girls? How are they? What have their lives been like? It couldn’t have been easy. How did the mom and dad cope with this, are they still together, did it make them stronger or tear them apart? Why not focus all the articles, if you have to report on them, on the present and not the past. Or give the new evidence the one sentence it deserves, don’t put it in blaring headlines.
There’s enough sadness in the world; it’s time to put the emphasis on whatever tiny dot of happiness in the world. Look around, it might be the orange butterfly swooping through the sky, or the sound of a child laughing, or watching a puppy dance and drop quickly to sleep. Can’t we all try to stay clear from negativity, even/especially if it takes the effort? It would do the world, a lot of good. What if we all tried, in memory, of Ethan.