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, September 27, 2006

The Second Year

I'm here at the library, today, wondering how the computers are going to be. Two weeks ago the computers were down, city wide, and it has taken almost two weeks for them to be back to normal, if they indeed are today. At least I was able to edit and republish my last blog, something I was not able to do the other day. So far, so good, I hope, and so I'm wondering exactly what to write today. Kevin is still on my mind, as always, in my thoughts, as usual. I've thought alot about this second year in terms of the second year of grieving. In many ways it has been harder and as time goes on we get further and further away from the truth, I suppose. Perhaps that's what upsets me the most.

I know I mentioned the grieving process; denial, anger, acceptance. I'm not sure that's all of it. I guess I initially thought it was one stage which would be finished and then a moving on to the next stage. I don't think that's the case, though, as I seem to go from one stage to the other and then back again. There are still days when I just can't believe that Kevin is gone. I just can not believe it. Then there are days when I'm so angry and angry at the police dept's. attitude that I'm suppose to be happy with the outcome of their supposed investigation which they have shared so little of. Probably because there's so little to share. Well, not be happy, but accept it and not bother them. Then, yes, there are days when I have to accept what has happened and I rely on prayer and my inspirational reading to shore up my faith in something so much larger than this sick everyday garbage. And, yes, some days I can have a feeling of peace and acceptance... I can hold dear the memories of Kevin and they bring me comfort. Then, there are other days when, very much in the sense world they tell me, the material world, where I'm overcome with anger and pain and loss. And disbelief. Gross emotion as opposed to the higher spirituality.

This second year has been very hard. Time heals. It doesn't make one forget. I still want to clinge to those people who surrouded Kevin and his disappearance. The Pastor who spoke at Kevin's memorial service, for example. But life goes on and I guess the more it does the more I feel left alone with my pain and loss. This isn't true, I know, but memories fade and Kevin isn't here anymore to make his mark. His family remembers, maybe a few friends. I'm sure more people than I realize. I hope that is the case. But there are no more services. The police aren't doing anything. And I guess I'm supposed to be over this and I'm not. One is suppose to move on, get on with one's life and to all outward appearances, I have. But that's what they are. Appearances. Kevin is still my dominant thought, each day, everyday, even in this the end of the second year...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The River

The river, of course, is the Des Moines River. I've written about it before, or mentioned it at least, many times. The river has nothing to do with Kevin's life and I was told that he would not want to be remembered for that. The reality is that his remains were found in the river. Sad to say, his life has become inextricably linked to the river. That's not how I remember him but that's where they found him. They; he, Kurt, a fisherman. A psychic said to throw flowers in the river, which we did after Kevin's memorial service, the next day, and not to look back.

When I moved out here, again, over a year later, I went to the river. I just felt that I had to go and hoped that Kevin would understand, which I'm sure he does. His remains were found at the confluence of the Raccoon and the Des Moines Rivers, just a smidge below a dam where the two rivers come together. Perhaps I've said this before too, but actually Kevin's remains were found on the left side of the river as one is standing on an old abandoned railroad bridge, facing downtown Des Moines, and almost directly underneath the bridge by one of the pillons. What occurred to me was the fact that they don't even know for sure whether Kevin went into the Des Moines River or the Raccoon River.The Raccoon River was never even mentioned but it was assumed he went into the Des Moines. He very well could have entered the Raccoon River which comes in from the left side as his remains were found on the left side not far from the shore. Something else which sticks in my mind...

It was a year ago when I wrote my second or third blog. "A Little Ray of Hope". That faded very quickly as did my hope to search the exposed sand bars for Kevin's skull. The Polk Co. Sherrif's Dept. had given my name to a diver and a dog handler as I mentioned a year ago. Months prior I had called the Des Moines police for a couple of names but they never got back to me. George, the diver called me as well as the lady who has a cadaver dog; I can't remember her name. A few minutes into my conversation with George, he said, "I hear you have a problem with the police". Before they called me they had already talked to Det. Mitchell at the police dept., the detective who was in charge of Kevin's case that day since Det. Shannon was on vacation the day they found his remains. George set up a time and date and we all met at the river, at the old railroad tressle, and talked about doing one last search of the area since it seemed to me the conditions would be excellent and quite different from the normal higher water levels. They agreed to do the search. They would keep me informed. I wasn't to give out any press releases.

That was a Wednesday. Saturday, George called and said that they had been at the river Friday, the river was rising. They were going to wait for the optimum time. A week or so after that the river was flooded and I never heard from George again. George said that they would be willing to do this search and then I was to put some closure to this. Excuse me? As we were talking he also said that I wouldn't find anything, and that, even if I did, there was no foul play - but he still agreed to do the search??? Well, in word only. I'm sure he knew the conditions were going to change at any time once they opened the dam at Saylorville Lake. He's a local diver. Very revealing, this self appointed spokesmouth for the police dept.

But the River... rivers , the ocean, waterfalls, even the Long Island Sound which I'm so familiar with, are peaceful and water is comforting. Many peoples build homes right on the water. This is prime real estate. I wonder who has never sat at the beach or a waterfront, and listened to the sounds of the river or ocean. Rainfall is soothing. They even make the little serenity pools, or whatever they're called. Kevin gave me one at Christmas. Aquariums are suppose to sooth the nerves as well. So, yes, I have gone down to the River and it is comforting. Brian and I have gone too. It is more than that, I guess. People have a need to go somewhere and pay their respects and remember in solitude as most go to a cemetary or a special place. So the river wasn't part of Kevin's life, or maybe it was, but it became so, and I still find myself drawn there as I am to other places which give me a sense of comfort and connectedness to Kevin...

The River also robbed us of our truth and closure. If Kevin had not gone into the river, he probably would have been found alot sooner. They would have been able to determine cause of death, perhaps. So the River is destructive and unforgiving, too, as well as other bodies of water. We need water to live but it takes lives as well.

The River is high now. I don't think they have opened the Saylorville Dam yet, though. We have had alot of rain and drought conditions, in this area, anyway, are gone. That's good, but it means that there won't be a search this year either. As I said, though, even if the skull was found, and there was indications of head trauma, the police would have said that it was done by debris in the water. They have already said that...

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11

I don't know why I'm thinking about Sept. 11th more than usual. I don't know whether the news broadcasts are doing more this year because it is the 5th anniversary or whether I just happenned to catch a couple more of the shows. Anyway, it did bring back another poignant memory of Kevin which I hadn't thought of in a long time.

I first arrived in Iowa a week or so before 9-11. Sept. 10th was my first day at work at the MTA. The next day I was sitting in the break room waiting for the next step in my training. The trainer and fellow driver, Britt, or someone I've come to know as my fellow driver, came in to tell me there was something I would probably like to see on the tv. He knew I was from New york. I think he might have even mentioned something about a plane going into the World Trade Center but it didn't register and, disbelieving, I guess I thought he was kidding. Obviously, I couldn't believe what I saw. Many of the drivers, including my trainer, had to go to the airport to help transport passengers as all the air traffic in the nation was coming to a halt and all aircraft were required to land at the nearest airport. I was told I could go home for the day.

I could'nt go home and so went down to Flanagan's where Kevin was working. Kevin was very visably upset, tears in his eyes, and all. His brother, Brian had just been released from the military in Italy and was in the air when this happened, September 11, 2001, his release date. No one knew what was going on and Kevin was afraid and concerned that this turn of events would mean that Brian would not be able to return to the States. I can't remember exactly when we heard from Brian, either that day or the next, perhaps that evening, but Brian was in Holland, I believe (I'll have to check and make sure), and was stuck at the airport, there, until flights were resumed 3 to 4 days later. So all tied in with September 11th it is such a strong memory of Kevin, and Brian too, and my home State, and my new home, here, as I had just arrived in Iowa not even two weeks before. I was very surprised that I felt so srongly about New York but my roots are there as well as most of my life spent. My early years were spent on Long Island and if I had continued to live there, undoubtedly, I would have directly known someone or a family who had experienced a loss of a loved one on that day. It really hit home. That day, though, I spent many hours at Flanagan's with Kevin and glued to the tv set.

A little on the lighter side; I still had my New York plates on my car. Being new to Des Moines I didn't know my way around. People continually honked at me!
Unmercifully! When 9-11 happened everyone stopped honking at me. Sad to say, New York wanted their plates back and so I had to send them back and put Iowa plates on the car. People started honking at me again because although the plates had changed, I still didn't know my way around!

So why is this September 11th different, I don't know. Last year Kevin wasn't here. Things change as time goes on. Different memories surface all the time as a flash of memory is triggered by a daily event, a sight or smell, a flower, anything, and so this was no different. At times I go by the Greyhound station or Kevin's high school, everyday, twice a day I go to Brody, Kevin's middle school, but my mind is elsewhere. Then any one day I can go by a particular place and it immediately triggers a memory. I have seen lots of kids on bicycles, for example, with not a second thought. Yesterday it triggered the memory of Brian, Kevin and I walking through Union College. A kid was speading through in a car, scared Kevin, and Kevin fell off his bike. I was so upset, ran after the car but couldn't catch it. Another memory. But this was an important one(the memory of 9-11) and I'm surprised that it did slip my memory, but it did enter my awareness again, this year, the 5th anniversary of 9-11.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Agitation and perhaps a little bit of excitement today. Maybe they're similar feelings but excitement I associate with positive, good, agitation with unsettling unrest. Last Thursday or Friday there was a story in the paper about photos being found on the door step of Noreen Gosch's home. Photos of John Gosch who disappeared in the early 80's at the age of 12. I felt elated for her and hoped that this new development might mean a break in the long unsolved case regarding her son. Last week there was another story about a 17 year old who was missing for a couple of days and then was found with a broken leg in Water Works Park right here close to downtown. Then a day or so ago there was a murder of a young guy, 18 years old, in Des Moines. His body was found in the Woodland Cemetery by someone who was walking through. Also right close to downtown and in an area that I walk by all the time. In this case an arrest was made very quickly of five people, supposed friends of this young man. I should know his name from seeing it on the news but I can't think of it offhand. There were four guys and a girl involved. So apparently people talked and then of course a body was found. Supposed friends did this. His friends. At first they said it was a prank. A prank that went bad but then they said, no, it was something else. Planned. There was also apparently a ritual involved and performed before they killed him. I had also mentioned about Evelyn Miller, a young girl found dead six days after her disappearance. It was the anniversary just a short time ago. There was also an article in the paper about missing person agencies and the fact that there were very few skilled, trained searchers. I wish I had known about these agencies. There are search groups but who knows about them. I found out too late. The first I heard was concerning Natalie Holloway, something called Equisearch. The Missing person Clearing House was going to help me find my son. What did they do? They put his name and face on a monthly flier which goes to police dept's in Iowa. How much good does that do? I would like to have been informed about this other agency which can't train people because they don't have enough cases. Here was one case that needed help and could have used their trained people but didn't know about it.

I haven't heard any more about the photos left on Noreen Gosch's doorstep. They did say they needed to authenticate the pictures. Things on the news come and go. Nothing lately on Natalie Holloway either, at least not on the news around here. I don't have cable and so only catch the regular news on local channels. When the kid was found in Water Works Park I did hear something about search dogs. Whether or not that's true or not, I don't know. I guess I am hoping that more of these stories in the forefront, on the news, will make a difference. It makes me agitated though and that's good. Things are being done somewhere if not here. And why not here? And if dogs were used regarding the one case, why not in Kevin's case? (although they did use one little dog on the river at one point) Why didn't the police want me to do a search? Well, this is all rehashing but the questions are still there. All of them. So I am very agitated and that's good. Really good.