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.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Two Rivers

Why I'm thinking so much about the rivers, lately,the Des Moines and the Raccoon, I haven't the faintest idea. I've lived between two rivers before, and beside them, in Upstate New York. The Hudson River and the Mohawk River, those would be. I never paid too much attention to them at all. Terry lived in the historical Stockade area in downtown Schenectady which had flooded on occasion. I really wasn't too aware of that either until Terry moved to that area. It was very similar to Des Moines during the flood crisis this past year. The areas in the flood plain were threatened, with voluntary evacuations recommended for those people living in the most endangered areas, sandbagging . For those of us living on higher grounds, if it wasn't for the news, one could be completely oblivious to the impending threat. I lived in Schenectady so many years but being on higher grounds I was never really aware of any flooding at all, which obviously did happen, in those low lying areas and the Stockade area.

And then there was Kevin. The river, one or the other, here in Des Moines, didn't claim Kevin's life but that is where his remains were found. Ever since then, the rivers have fascinated me as they were an integral part of Kevin's death. As I've talked about before, I had hoped to do another search which did not pan out. I watched the river from that perspective; an opportune time where one could walk around and search an area previously under water. The time was ideal when I first arrived here three years ago. The river bed around the old train trestle where they found Kevin's remains was dry. The search didn't happen and weather patterns changed and then the flooding of 2008. That ideal time has passed for good.

It's just amazing to me. The power and force of moving water. I've watched the rivers, walked in the shallow waters around and below the old train bridge. I've felt the force of the current on my legs as I walked from sand bar to sand bar, not really looking for anything, or thinking I would find something regarding Kevin. Or, maybe I did. Not that this is new to me either as I grew up in an area where we visited the beaches surrounding Long Island, N.Y. I was well aware of the undertow, the force of the waves as they came pounding to shore. But now, of course, it means something different.

Brian and I walked around one or two of the flooded areas after the river had crested. I listened to the news reports diligently. The river was to crest at so many feet over flood stage, etc. I could see that the river was so much higher. But it wasn't until I had gone down to the railroad bridge (Kevin's bridge) where I had been so many times before, that I truly realized the magnitude of the flooding. I had walked on the rickety bridge many times. It was scary as I watched every step I made from one railroad tie to the next. You could see the water or the sand bar, depending on the level of the river at the time, twenty to thirty feet below. That day, as we were watching the river downtown we went to the Scott Street bridge where we could see the old railroad bridge as well. The water was right up to the railroad ties on the bridge! It was amazing. I then had a more accurate realization of crest stage, the flooding, the shear amount of water swelling the rivers. The river levels remained very high for months but now are so low one can see the sand bars along the sides of the rivers and even in the middle. From one extreme to the other!

And Kevin was a part of this, as well, the floods of '08, even though some of my hopes of ever finding more of his remains were washed down stream, forever, with the flood waters.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Wall

The same title and almost a year later. I had asked one of the librarians for help, just a technical question. I think she inadvertantly hit something and it deleted my whole blog.- Something I could have done but I wasn't near the computer. Being so in-experienced, I went to speak to another librarian at one of the other branches. I thought she would be able to tell me what happened and how to retrieve my blog which had to be somewhere in cyberspace. Anyway, no such luck. It was that week right after Brian had finished the Des Moines Marathon. It was a milestone for him, and a few days later, a milestone for me, you could say.

I was standing there at the finish line waiting for Brian to finish his first marathon and thinking. Thinking alot. It had been about ten years since I stopped running and, standing there, watching the runners cross that finish line made me wistful and took me back to a different place in my life. A good place, actually. A place where I used to think in terms of running and the discipline from my running spilled over into other areas of my life. I thought of my life as a road race. Nothing original, but it worked for me. I ran all the time, loved longer distances, and even ran a few races. I had always thought about running a marathon, but didn't. I did run a half marathon, though.

Then it came back to me about "the wall". I had heard it so often. One runs and runs and then about the 20th mile one supposedly feels like they have hit a wall and they have to run through it when they don't feel they have an ounce of energy to take another step. Standing there on the side line, I guess I felt that in my own life I had hit that same wall. I wasn't getting anywhere regarding Kevin and it took every ounce of energy or courage or both to go one step further. I'm still at that point. My resolve is still there. I'm just moving at a snails pace. But I'm still moving. I was never a fast runner, anyway. More of an endurance runner is more accurate.

And I guess I said a mouthful at that point or thought it anyway. I guess I felt that I had run headlong, crashed, into a brick wall. I saw something and as much as I tried to tell myself otherwise, I knew something was wrong. Brian's marathon was October 21st, I think. This day was October 28th. That was the beginning of a long process. Breast cancer.

I was very foolish. Breast cancer is so treatable as long as it's caught early. I never went for mammograms. In my case I was very lucky since there was a visible sign. While I was having my mammogram, I remember the nurse said to me to just consider this a "bump in the road". She wasn't aware of Brian's marathon, or my many years of running, or putting my life in runners terms. It tickled me and it has stuck in my mind and been a very positive encouragement. I've hit this bump in the road, the 20th mile, "the wall". I'll cross over the rough road, muster the energy, whatever it takes, and make it to mile 26.2!

Brian signed me up for the Des Moines marathon this year because I said I had wanted to run it. (I think I was still on steroids, at the time, which they give you as part of your chemotherapy. I think it made me dillusional.) I transferred my registration to next year, unfortunately, but it is really a more realistic decision and goal. My major stuff, chemotherapy and radiation, was finished July 17th but I guess I need a little more time to get back into shape and get my energy back up to par, which I will do. And I have work to do for Kevin...