It’s been two weeks now. Two long, grueling, agonizing, heart-rending weeks. That’s how long the world has angst over the fate of British tyke Maddie McCann, age three. Two weeks ago, while the family was on vacation (or holiday as the Brits call it) in Portugal, Maddie’s parents left her and her twin siblings, age two alone in their room while they went to dinner. Maddie’s fourth birthday, May 12th, came and went while the baby has been missing.
Celebs around the world, mostly notably footballer David “Becks” Beckham and author J. K. Rowling, have come forth to aid in the search. Pleas have been issued and reward money has accumulated.
Unfortunately, this incident is evidence that child predators are everywhere, not just in the USA. The most recent development in the case involves a British man, living in Portugal with his mother. This person has been involved in the local searches for Maddie…and has strangely and sickly, joked about being a suspect in the case. Well, where there’s smoke, there’s fire as the old saying goes and the police have indicated this man as a “person of interest” (read possible suspect). Police have searched his home…and they have discovered a secret chamber secluded away in his house. Only time, and more investigation will tell if he is truly involved with the disappearance of little Maddie and what the fate of Maddie is.
There is one thing I don’t understand…I can’t fathom. But, first let me give a little background here and explain. When my son was young, there was one thing that was paramount to me…his welfare and well being and safety. He was born a month early and suffered Fetal Breathing Syndrome…in other words, his fetal breathing system did not shut down…something I have learned is not uncommon in eight month babies. As a result, he spent the first two weeks of his life in NICU…neo-natal intensive care. This was one of the scariest times in my life. (Unfortunately, the emotional support I received from Gomez was negligible. He had a very hard time connecting emotionally, and his son was no exception. While my son was in NICU, Gomez spent so little time there that the doctor and nursing staff didn’t realize he was the father…they thought my dad was my baby’s father…sad, but true.)
As my son grew, I was always concerned about his welfare…he was my most precious treasure. Sadly, the world grew increasingly dangerous as his grew. I often wished he could have known the safety of the world I grew up in. One day when he was a pre-schooler I read an article I will never forget. It was an article about John Walsh and the disappearance of his son, Adam. I’ll never forget the day I read that article…it made me literally, physically ill. I could only imagine what the Walsh family went through, and it terrified me to no end. That day all I could do was hold, love, squeeze, kiss, and thank God my little fellow was alive, well and safe. I made a vow that day that I would do what ever I could to protect him…sometimes to his chagrin.
A few years later, we were sightseeing in Boston. We were at the waterfront and harbor area. My son and I were sitting on a bench waiting on Gomez to purchase tickets to take a cruise of the Boston Harbor. My little fellow, always a curious type, wanted to go see what it was like where is dad was…and check out the drink vending machine. Always wary and conscious, I cautioned him to go straight to his dad…no stopping, no talking to strangers. All he had to do was walk about 20-40 feet and turn the corner around the ticket booth…I would watch until he turned the corner…and then he would be within sight of his dad.
A few very short minutes later, Gomez walked toward me alone, looked at me and asked where our son was! I answered I thought he was with Gomez, and he said he hadn’t seen him! My knees went weak; I got sick to my stomach and started trembling. My son had vanished! I retraced my son’s steps and didn’t see him. I panicked and started calling his name. It was all so surreal…the people around just stared blankly as I continued calling out for my son…their look spoke volumes, “If I don’t get involved, her misfortune won’t touch me.” In a couple of minutes (it seemed like agonizing hours), I saw his little head round the corner of the ticket booth. Evidently, as he gotten to the booth where his dad had been, his dad had left to return to us and my son had been wandering around looking for his dad. I went weak with relief and thankfulness. I wanted to sob…but, I knew he wanted to continue with the day’s adventures, and I didn’t want to spoil for him.
Now, with that said, there is one thing I can’t understand. Why and how could, in the name of God, two adults…two parents leave a three year old baby girl, and a set of two year old twins alone…by themselves, unattended in a strange country while they dined?! That act is beyond my comprehension. It seems so utterly irresponsible. So many scenarios of what could go wrong…and did go wrong fill my mind. It’s just more than I can wrap my head around. Reason would tell me if they can afford a vacation at a resort in Portugal, surely they could have afforded a bonded sitter to watch over their children while they feasted…oblivious to danger.
I know this is probably not a “popular” view to take right now and I don’t wish to kick someone when they’re down. I know these parents are grieving over their little girl lost. It just amazes me that people will take more care to lock up valuables in a safe than some people will take in the protection of their most precious treasure…their children. I hope and pray that Maddie is returned safe and sound and unharmed; but, also hope and pray that her parents will watch over their precious twins and never, never, never place them in this kind of harm’s way again. One little girl lost is one little girl…one child too many.
© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.