Searching for Christopher

Pick your cliche—a “shot in the dark” or a “needle in a haystack.” I have no false hope here. I don’t expect this post will result in useful information about a missing Central New York teenager. But I saw this flyer posted on a corkboard inside Marshall Square Mall in Syracuse, and the child’s smiling face and wavy hair evoked pity in the form of a gut punch.

Missing teenager Christopher Pierce.

The paper displayed photos and biographical data for 14-year-old Christopher Pierce of Theresa, New York, in Jefferson County. He stands about five feet nine inches tall and weighs about 160 pounds. He was last seen on Nov. 1 at 550 Harrison Street—a medical complex near Interstate 81 in Syracuse.

I can’t imagine the horror his parents are enduring, replaying their worst fears as more time passes and he fails to appear.

If anyone has information, they can call the Syracuse Police Missing Person Unit at 315-442-5233.

I also couldn’t help wondering what type of kid Christopher is. Who is his favorite musical artist? Does he play sports? Does he ride dirt bikes or go snowmobiling in the Tug Hill plateau? Does he have siblings? What are his favorite pizza toppings? All the mundane little details that add up to a life. And in a case like this, good thoughts and prayers prove futile. They can’t bring the kid home to his parents. But a few aimless prayers also won’t cause any damage.

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Four Years Old

Our son, Colin Joseph, celebrates his fourth birthday today. And being a late bloomer in all aspects of life, I never expected to carry the title of husband and father. Yet here I am, nearly 51, a family man who has shed his bachelor status. And being the father of an autistic child has taught me the importance of striving and attempting—because that’s all you can do is try—to practice patience, humility, gratitude and acceptance. Acceptance is the key.

Colin Joseph sleeping.

I know this evening when we celebrate Colin’s birthday, he will likely not blow out the candles or eat a slice of his birthday cake. He may not pick up or play with his new Woody and Buzz Lightyear toys. He may preoccupy himself with the string of the balloon my wife bought him. And that could go on for hours.

We work hard to help Colin improve his communication and social interaction skills. But progress is slow, and we don’t know if he will get better with time. So I have to remind myself to love the child we have, exactly as he is right now, knowing he may never become a “normal” boy. It’s a crude reference, but the situation calls to mind the Stephen Stills’ song, “Love The One You’re With.”

“Well there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies with the dove
And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you’re with …”

For now, I am grateful for the blessing of the little angel/mischievous rascal who turns four years old today.

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