Diary of a Mother's Mission

My son, Kevin Martin, disappered under mysterious circumstances in the wee hours of July 18, 2004. His partial remains were found on February 1, 2005 in the river. The Des Moines Police have not been helpful and this is my blog to tell what I have done as it's done.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What To Say

I don't know what to say anymore. Sunday was Father's Day. They interviewed two fathers who lost their sons in Iraq. I'm sure they interviewed many more but chose the two that they did perhaps because they were very expressive, maybe more so than a lot of other men. I don't know. What they said sticks in my mind. Most of the time I can not express what I'm feeling and then you hear someone else put your feelings into words so easily, or what seems so easily anyway, and so precisely. Or maybe it's that I don't really know what I'm feeling so how can one put into words what one doesn't know? When I heard what these men said it sort of lifted my spirits because it lifted my moroseness by putting into words an undefined heaviness bearing down upon my mind. Yes, at times I know exactly what I'm feeling. Anger, sadness, frustration, loss. But that doesn't cover it. It's much deeper than that. Kevin was my flesh and blood. A part of me died.

But what these men said really helped. The one said that after everything is said and done. After all of the anger and everything else is gone, there's a big hole left. A big empty hole. Emptiness. Kevin was his father's legacy as well as mine and now we have become his legacy as the other man stated. These are things I've known. One knows a lot of things. These things aren't anything new but it helps to clarify them and bring them into focus as it does when you hear someone else articulate exactly what you're going through and feeling. It helps. If only I could articulate everything I think it would be like lifting the weight of the world from my shoulders.

I've been thinking about the word "immortality" which I used last week in my blog. We all are immortal, as I think I've said before, religiously speaking, that is. Marilyn Monroe comes to mind. Kevin loved Marilyn Monroe. She's a legend, an icon, immortal, I guess, in the eyes of society. Does the approbation of our fellow human beings mean anything in the big scheme of things? Her image is every where. Cookie jars, salt and pepper shakers, Christmas ornaments. Would I want that for Kevin? Would he want that? Would Marilyn Monroe have wanted that? So how do we acknowledge and keep alive the memory of our loved one, or will Kevin's memory be like most? Kept in the heart of a handfull of people. Maybe that's the way it's suppose to be.

So, I don't know what to say about anything at this point...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mr. Bill

This past week I passed Bill Blakely, a fellow driver who Kevin knew. I rarely see him since he has been at the Mta for 31 years. He usually has a straight 8 hour shift, which most of us don't have, and so our paths just don't cross. Seeing him brought back a wonderful memory of Kevin who use to take Mr. Bill's bus to a job he had on east 14th after school.

By the time I arrived in Des Moines Kevin was out of school. He asked about Mr. Bill as I had just started to work at the MTA. Bill's name came up periodically as I tried to find out who this man was who Kevin had always spoken so highly of. Every now and then Kevin would ask me if I had met Mr. Bill. I was there for over a year before I met Bill Blakely as even 5 years ago he had so much seniority that he was on the straight 8 schedule. I would always ask around about this man who Kevin called Mr. Bill and who meant a lot to Kevin. I finally got to meet him and told him that my son had ridden his bus, the number 4, to work and back. So many kids ride the bus but I do think that he remembered Kevin since he rode the bus on a daily basis.

When I saw him the other day I remembered all of my interactions with Kevin as we were trying to figure out who Kevin's favorite Mr. Bill was and if I had met him at work yet. Mr. Bill was the name given him by some of the riders who were going to and from Goodwill.

Another memory totally unrelated but one that came to mind, and in my mind, shows so much of Kevin's compassion, concerns my messy car. I opened the door to the car and remembered Kevin's words from many years ago as we were entering my apartment. He very lovingly said "Mom's mess". Messy it was but Kevin said it without criticism. He was stating a fact and in an accepting understanding manner. If he could only see my car he would have said the same thing. "Mom's mess!" I opened the door to my car and opened the door to another wonderful memory.

Along slightly different lines but a memory which I feel shows so much of the way Kevin was concerns the loss (or theft more likely) of a video lent to Kevin by one of his friends. I think it was called "Meet the Feebles" and was done by Peter Jackson of LOTR fame. Hard to believe but, then again, I've never seen the video. The video disappeared from Kevin's apartment and Kevin felt so bad since it was a favorite of his friend's. Feeling so responsible the two of us went to a little local video store on Sherman Hill, no longer in existence, to see if he could replace the lost video. The people at the store were able to get it for him, a used one, probably from Ebay, and so he was able to return a facsimile to his friend.

I can still hear Kevin's words, too, as Kevin insisted that this same guy (that's why I remembered it) pay me back the $100.00 I had put up for his bail. I really had not planned on getting the money back but Kevin felt strongly that I should be paid back and in retrospect he was right. And, of course, I treasure him for his character and concern for me.

A few more memories of Kevin all of which show a little more, "illuminate" really, Kevin's caring and character. He was a really special young man who at least had one good memory about the MTA - Mr. Bill. And I thank Bill Blakely for these wonderful memories which come to mind whenever I see him.

Monday, June 05, 2006


I actually looked up the word reflecting this morning. After one gets beyond the definition of reflecting as a mirror reflects, to turn back as light, an image, etc., it says to think, ponder, to meditate. So, I guess that's what I'm doing. Actually, too much thinking, pondering, but not enough meditation (which takes practice and can be very beneficial and relaxing. I don't know whether you could say the same about thinking and pondering.)June seems to be that time of year when I'm more apt to reflect. June and Nov.- Dec. Something I realized a long time ago. I realized that to get away at those two times of the year was very beneficial to my wellbeing. Not that I was able to do that most of the time but I certainly realized the need and so compensated in different ways.

A year ago we had finished with Kevin's memorial service. And then came the end of May into June, a time already fraught with reflection, memories. A time when so many things resurface to be dealt with once again; to reflect, to turn back, to redo, to rethink. It was a time when I reviewed the previous year or 10 months concerning Kevin. It was a very difficult time as I knew it would be. The ceremonies and rituals were over. Life goes on. Blasphemously, at times.

A year has gone by since then but it is the same time of year and a time for more reflection. My peacefulness surrounding Memorial Day is gone. I looked into the faces of the soldiers shown on TV and read their names, as the media seems to be making more of an attempt to personalize the loss of young lives to the Iraq war, as they have done all along, right from the beginning. Silly to think that it makes any difference one way or another. I read the names but probably won't remember them as much as I would like to. I do remember the name of Matt Maupin who still hasn't been accounted for. We all try to do the same things with our loss. These young lives should be known, as if one could really know someone by looking at their picture. But it is more personal- the media's approach concerning Iraq. Each one has a story. And, of course, I would like Kevin's story to be known and more so than it is right now.

I was driving on a new section of Mlk here in Des Moines. Perhaps I missed the name before although I do think it is new. They dedicated a portion of one of the roads to some man. I don't know who the guy is. There are dedications and memorials all over the place. Does that mean a certain amount of immortality? Blank Park Zoo and the Imax theater is a result of Mr. Blank. They showed a brief video concerning his life. Now I know the name and that he was responsible for the zoo and theater as do all the other people who go to the Imax. Does that make Mr. Blank more immortal than others? Others like Kevin? Would it make a difference if Kevin had a street named after him? I don't know, but I guess back to what really bothers me, the fact that this young man wasn't given a thorough investigation. His demise was overlooked, blown off, as being not important. So, immortality by having a street named after him? That wouldn't help, but having reverence for his young life would help. Most of our lives will fade into obscurity sooner or later as will Kevin's. Most of us will never achieve the notoriety of a Mr. Blank or other famous people.

So, June is that time of year for me. A time to reflect more deeply about things. The word came up again this weekend as I opened a newly purchased book, Black Elk Speaks. It was a title I had written down four to five years ago but had forgotten about. There it was Sunday at the Metaphysical Fair so I picked it up! I opened it. There was the word "reflection". Reflection is painful at times but I think I'm on the right track - in June.