A year ago today, 20-year-old Indiana student Lauren Spierer went missing shortly before dawn. She was last seen walking home alone after a night out with friends, clearly intoxicated, barefoot and without her cell phone at 4:30am. Her friend saw her reach the corner of his street, and that’s the last that anyone has seen of the young student.
Lauren’s story captured national headlines quickly. She reminds many of their own daughter, sister, friend; Lauren is young, beautiful, loves apparel and fashion, and was simply enjoying life like many other young 20 somethings do. Fortunately, most people and families aren’t touched by the tragedy that Lauren and her family are enduring every day. But for the Spierer’s, today marks an unbearable 365 days.
Living with the unknown for a year is truly unimaginable. Your emotions are suspended in limbo; how do you progress forward without moving on? Your heart, mind and memories are attached to a happier, sturdier past, where life was still normal and you didn’t have pained questions that bear you no answers.You grasp to quirky details of how your loved one laughs, or talks, or gives you a hug. There is still a chance, you say, of them walking through your door safe. Alive.
During a search, time is an impossible concept. It flies swiftly by, leaving you wondering how so many days passed when every minute seems to drag on. When are you allowed to grieve? Do you go back to work? Do you strive to get your life back to normal even though your entire being wants to be out searching for them? I remember feeling guilty for laughing, sleeping or relaxing, knowing that my loved one may be out there struggling to survive. Unless every decision and action I made contributed to her search; I lived and breathed it. How do the Spierers make it through 365 days of that?
Oh, and all the scenarios that your imagination wanders through are torturous. Smoke and mirrors. What if they’re locked up somewhere, held captive? What if they were sold to a sex trade, being trafficked in Mexico? How much money should we start saving for any psychiatric or physical recovery? What if… what if we tried hard enough, passed out enough fliers, conducted enough searches, raised enough reward money, got in front of enough cameras, that someone out there will finally give us an answer? Or better yet, if we just tried hard enough, will someone out there finally have the decency to give her back to us?
But out of all the stories that you tell yourself, not one of them includes your loved one being dead. Not one. It doesn’t matter the statistics and slim chances, the accusations, charges and arrests – until there is solid, tangible evidence that your loved one is gone, there is always positivity. There is always hope. Hope is the only lifeboat you have when you suddenly find yourself drowning in the life you were thrown into.
For Lauren’s family, my heart aches for them as they seek the truth of what happened to their loved one. All of Lauren’s friends are accused of being too silent. Why would they let her walk home alone at that hour without shoes and a phone? Do her friends really know more than they are letting on? They all got lawyered up pretty quickly. Is she out there trying to find her way back home?
There is simply nothing fair in knowing that someone out there secretly knows more about Lauren’s whereabouts than her family does. It baffles me how her abductor’s conscience hasn’t budged since June of 2011; it’s monstrous.
Lauren Spierer is 4’11″, petite at 95 lbs with blonde hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing black pants and a white top. For more information about Lauren and her search, please visit www.findlauren.com.