Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dead or missing forever?

I'm reading Kate Atkinson's Case Histories at the minute. In the space of one paragraph she asks two interesting but difficult questions.

The first one. If you had to chose with respect to your child either dead or missing forever, which would you pick?

The second one. What do you do when the worst thing that could happen to you has already happened (i.e. your child is dead or missing forever)? Do you continue on? Do you seek answers? Or do quit and cash in your chips?

In relation to the first one, I think I'd go with missing forever. I know this has no resolution and it would plague me forever as to what had happened, probably driving me mad in the process, but there is the hope that he/she might have a good life. In relation to the second, I think I'd have to continue on for the sake of everyone else, but it would be damned hard work.

There're no easy answers here and I suspect if I was to discuss and debate this when I'd got a few drinks in me, my views on them might become a bit fluid. And if I'd got the drink in me after my kid died/disappeared heaven knows where that might lead.

How about you? Dead or missing forever?


Margot Kinberg said...

Rob - Those are awful, awful possibilities for a parent to face. I can't think of anything much worse... Don't know right now which I'd pick. I'll have to think about that one...

Bernadette in Australia said...

That's a pretty horrible Sophie's Choice type scenario...I used to work with someone whose son went missing when he was 13 and never found - when I knew the man it had been about 20 years since that happened and he was still a mess from it - all sorts of personal and professional problems in his life that stemmed from that experience and the not knowing. I think that the man is the saddest person I have ever known (not clinically depressed but everything tinged with this air of sadness that he wore like an invisible cloak) and I really don't think I could live in that way (though of course I don't know that it would affect me in the same way but still).

pattinase (abbott) said...

Missing forever would be more painful for me but perhaps not as painful for the child. Perhaps.

Jose Ignacio Escribano said...

The first one is a tough one. Don't know. Maybe missing forever.
The second one, but taking into account that the first one is only a theoretical question, to continue on.

kathy d. said...

Those questions are so painful.

As a non-parent, I can only say "missing forever," which is hell on the parent, but maybe there is a possibility that the child survived and has a life somewhere.

For example, Jaycee Dugard, who disappeared when she was 11, was found at the age of 29. Her mother never gave up hope, and kept trying to find out what happened.

I'd say continue on, but also to try to find the answers. I would think we mystery readers would seek answers, information, even closure, that we'd pursue it for as long as we could.

What a terrible story from Australia, though. I can understand how this tragedy would affect a parent for the rest of his/her life.