It completely breaks my heart to see that Avonte Oquendo, the autistic 14-year-old boy from Queens, is still missing after so much time. I can’t imagine what his mother must feel like with the holidays approaching, knowing that her son is out there and she doesn’t know where, and she can’t be with him or take care of him.
Stories like this didn’t used to bother me too much, but now they do because I know how terrible it would be if my niece or nephew were missing. It’s unimaginable and the worst nightmare for a family to have to endure. I don’t know Avonte’s mother, but before he went missing, we worked for the same company. She hasn’t been back to work since, obviously. I read in an interview that she is not looking forward for Christmas and the only thing she wants is her son back.
When I was little, I got lost a few times. I once walked out of my day care, calm as anything, and tried to walk back home. Luckily, the principal/director of the day care was late that day and as she was getting off the bus, she saw me standing on a street near the school and recognized me.
She brought me back to the woman taking care of the children and asked, “Isn’t this girl from this center?” and the woman screamed, “Yes, Kari! Thank goodness!” She called me Kari instead of Karen. That was my last day attending that day care. My mother took me out of it and cared for me herself since she was not working at that time. Who knows what would’ve happened to me if the principal hadn’t been late that day by chance.
Another time, I was with my parents at their friend’s apartment. I was playing with a few other kids and when it was time to go, my parents couldn’t find me. They searched the entire apartment, turning it upside down and I was nowhere to be found. My mother said she was paralyzed with fear and couldn’t move.
My mother said she felt sweat pouring out from her fingertips. My father ran outside and saw me standing at the corner in front of a bar, and this was late at night. I was casually strolling around in circles around some utility pole or something, oblivious to all the fuss.
I don’t remember how old I was, but again, I was lucky. Anyone could have taken me and that would’ve been the last I saw of my family. I don’t know what I was thinking both of those times when I got lost, but I just thank God that I was found and reunited with my parents.
It just makes you wonder why some parents are lucky that way and some aren’t. It’s so random how quickly life can completely change from one day to the next. That’s why I know not to take things for granted.
I am incredibly blessed to be healthy mentally, to be educated and cared for and have a job and my independence. Life is fragile and miraculous, even in the ordinary times. Being alive, safe, and sheltered is something to be grateful for every single day.
I still pray for Avonte to be found safe, and returned home to his mother where he belongs.
This entry was handwritten on 12/10/13. I’m not sure what provoked it, but the words were in my head and demanding to be written.
Here we are in this reckless world, leading reckless lives that could end at any time. We think we are safe, but it’s just an illusion. It’s a lie that we tell ourselves in order to feel secure, to keep going, to feel like we have some sort of control over our circumstances.
But who are we kidding? Even we, ourselves, can’t be fooled. You think you will do this and that in your life, that you’ll get things done, be productive. And find out who you are in the process.
But the whole point is to remain safe, to ensure your survival, to hope against the unpredictable nature of all things, to hope for the best. All the yearning and striving could be for nothing. Something unforeseen could come along, derailing your plans and your ideas.
We forget how fragile life is, how precious it is, and we fritter it away. We wait for someday to come along. That perfect, magical someday when we will have things all figured out, and we’ll finally start living our lives with a clear purpose, and motivation to make the most of it that we can.
I wish work wasn’t necessary so I could spend my days reading, writing, relaxing, exercising, volunteering to help others, travelling, and truly living. But having to earn money to earn a living throws everything off. It’s like that artist said in a movie I once saw: “We do yearn for freedom so, don’t we?” Those are probably among the truest words ever spoken.
I don’t know the meaning of life, but I hope I can one day learn how to truly enjoy it and get a real taste of my freedom in this world, and take full advantage of it.
Last night, I fell asleep shortly after dinner. It must have been around 8pm and I slept all the way until the next morning. I woke up a bit here and there to sleepily text my mom who was asking me how things are going in my new apartment. The next time I opened my eyes it was 1am and my bedroom light was still on, so I turned it off and went back to sleep. I slept for maybe about 12 hours in all.
I guess I was still really tired from moving over the weekend. I took Monday off but I still spent that day not really relaxing, but opening boxes, doing dishes, and getting things organized. I also spent a lot of time changing my address everywhere I have an account online: credit cards, bills, bank, etc.
I was either overly tired, or just sleep deprived from never getting any rest in my old apartment. It was nonstop noise there, all day long and most of the evening and night.
So last night I just slept and it was really great. I didn’t go online, I didn’t watch television, exercise, or read The Help, which is a really great book. I just gave in to the exhaustion and rested. And today my mind is clearer and more focused. I had more ideas for writing today than I’ve had in a long while. And that was a nice change. I kept thinking I would rather be writing than working, but day jobs are unfortunately necessary.
So tonight, now that I have my energy back I will exercise, and write, and do a few chores. Sometimes you just need to catch up on sleep. I feel better in my new apartment. I threw away a lot of useless stuff and I have so much more closet space.
I actually have closet space to spare, and space in my kitchen pantry. I needed this big change. I was too attached to my old apartment and it’s nice to see a new block and new people when I go outside, and to use my own things in new ways and organize everything differently.
I loved it when I was growing up in my mom’s house and she would rearrange the living room furniture or my bedroom furniture in order to shift the energy around and allow us to look at something new. It was refreshing. I feel like my mind has been jolted awake because my routine has changed. I’m in a quiet house now with quiet neighbors, and on a second floor instead of a fourth.
I can hear myself think and I can sit on the couch or on my bed and simply read, without needing any background noise on to drown out the neighbors. The rent is higher here but it’s worth it.
I am much more comfortable and relaxed, and that’s the way you want to feel when you are home. Getting to go to sleep anytime I want to is also a great plus, because sufficient sleep is so important. I can’t function without it.