the face on the milk carton

i don’t really remember the day.

i do remember the news. it was 1979. a little boy had vanished. his family lived down in soho, on prince street. soho was less fashionable then. more artsy. lofts were spaces, mostly large raw spaces, not luxury apartments. he had a strange name, etan. i had never heard that name before. he was beautiful. happy. filled with so much life. so much future. i had begun practicing buddhism a few years earlier, and i remember chanting for him, his family, his mom and dad. chanting, praying. i remember feeling scared. worried. praying. chanting. hoping. i remember the photos of him everywhere. MISSING. i remember seeing a photo of his mom, julie, and i remember thinking: i will never know her pain. never. i will never know what it is to have a child, and fear for a child, lose a child. i remember the words: vanished, kidnapped, stolen, taken, gone, missing. still missing.

those words lingered.
still missing.

still missing.
year after year after year.

etan patz.
the little boy on the milk carton.
i remember it as if it were yesterday.

and then yesterday, just yesterday as if it were 33 years ago…
a photo of julie patz, in her loft – that loft on prince street – staring out the window as the FBI, and the NYPD carry chunks of dry wall, and huge pieces of concrete floor and bricks from a building only a block and a half away from where he, etan patz, lived – they live, have always lived – in hopes that they find that little boy from the milk carton.

and i can’t help but think…
that she, julie, his mother, has been staring out that very window every single day for 33 years.

i just can’t imagine.

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2 Responses to “the face on the milk carton”

  1. Suzanne Fisher Staples

    Amy – What a touching memorial for Etan Patz. I was living in India – had just moved there – and remember the story of his disappearance coming over the UPI newswire in my office, and thinking the world had gone crazy. And then – the revolution in Iran, the storming of the US Embassy, the taking of hostages, the attack on the US Embassy in Islamabad, the deaths of a young Marine and seven Pakistani guards. It was as if the stars had misplaced themselves and left us reeling. Thank you for this.

  2. Reticula

    When one mother cries, we all cry. Thank you for this.

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