by Cynthia Caron
Recently my organization, LostNMissing, along with Ayla's maternal family, held a Birthday Vigil for missing toddler, Ayla Reynolds, of Maine. Many bloggers and even the media have made comments that I found "interesting" in that it was clear to me that the general public "assumes" that a certain demeanor, or reaction, should be uniform for all families of missing loved ones.
The perception is that those who have a missing child (no matter the age) should never smile, never have "a good day" and should never "celebrate" anything when their loved one is missing. What they do not realize is what they see and hear is not always what it seems. Let's take the radio personalities, Mike and Ken, of WGAN radio in Maine. In their morning show, The Daily Rundown, discussed the Birthday Vigil and described it as "creepy." (Listen here at: http://podcast.560wgan.com/
I would like to address comments made by Ken and Mike regarding the Ayla Reynolds Birthday Vigil and it's not that I want to single them out, but rather they gave a very common opinion that I believe should be discussed.
Many times what the public sees and hears is not what one may perceive. Our organization sponsored the event for Ayla Reynolds along with the maternal family and of course her mom, Trista Reynolds. While I understand that many comments are made out of opinions from watching news clips and reading articles, that in no way gives the entire background and true happenings with those grieving for their missing child.
Our organization works with many families of missing and I can assure you that rarely do we have two families that react in the same manner, nor grieve in the same way when a loved one is missing. Mike and Ken, while commenting on The Daily Rundown, that the "Birthday Party", in which it was not a party…it was a Birthday Vigil, both Mike and Ken agreed that it was "creepy." Actually, it was quite the opposite. Some points, that the public is not aware, and I would like to make known a number of important points:
· When Trista woke up, the morning of the Birthday Vigil and her missing child's second birthday, she realized Ayla was still not home…that phone call never came. She then went into a very deep and painful hurting state. She spent the day in extreme pain and crying from morning until the time to go. It was extremely difficult to get Trista to attend her daughter's Birthday Vigil. She did not believe she would have the strength to get through it. I assured Trista, as did her mom and all at the house, that she would be fine and that she has many supporters and those that love her would be surrounding her and will be at her side throughout.
· The vigil itself was very important as it held multiple purposes. Mainly it garnered a lot of media attention for Ayla's missing status prior and following the event. That is extremely important as we cannot let the public "forget" Ayla, or put it off that she is deceased with "certainty"… or those who may spot a child that looks like Ayla will invariably not make the connection because they are firm in their beliefs that Ayla is gone.
· We do not know that Ayla is no longer here on earth. We do not know if she was "given away", sold or missing through other possible means. We just do not know. For that matter, we do not know with certainty that Ayla went missing on the night she was put to bed on the 16th of December (2011) and "discovered" gone on the morning of December 17th. We do not know with certainty, however, the DiPietro family does. They know because Ayla was in their care. Only they can truly say when the last time Ayla was in that home playing or sleeping. Therefore, we always must keep hope.
· Hope is important for families to have in order to sustain their own emotional health and to get through the days, and nights, ahead of them. The public also should know that Trista has another baby at home that she must care for. A beautiful baby boy who has many health problems and requires much more care than the "normal" baby of the same age. Trista has to be strong. She cannot let grief overcome her every second of every day…for her small son's sake…she has to remain strong and try to live as normal a life as virtually possible….not only to maintain her own emotional state of mind, but to be there and help her son through his own much needed medical care.
· On a positive note, while things may seem grim, Ayla's case has not been ruled a homicide, therefore…we will always make pleas for the public to look for her.
On a side note, our organization has worked with families in which cases have been converted from a missing persons case to a homicide investigation and the missing person invariably was located safe. We've also had many cases in which we have believed the missing loved one may be safe and the outcome was the person was in fact located passed away. We quit "guessing" the end result of cases. Until clear and compelling evidence suggests otherwise…always hope.
· The negative bloggers were quick to point out the "dancing and singing" at Ayla's Birthday Vigil and if a single one of the bloggers were in attendance they would have noted that Trista was completely up and down with her emotions and pain. She would go from crying in the arms of family and friends (and yes with real tears) to regaining composure and accepting the love and support of those around her and "joined them" at various intervals with smiles, hugs and yes…dancing for a brief moment which was caught on film. What was she dancing to? The song that her daughter continually danced to around the house, "Moves Like Jagger." So if for a brief moment she was able to be distracted from her constant pain and be drawn into the scene of others, the same as her daughter would, then why would anyone dare to turn that into a negative?
I have to say that I commend Trista for her strength and abilities in many ways. Her capabilities to project the need for the public to 'Please help find Ayla' is remarkable. She takes her "45 seconds of opportunity" and presents her feelings, goals and pleas in a way that many who have taken college courses on media relations cannot carry out in the same manner.
So here we have a young mother, with a small baby at home with medical needs, living with a constant heartache of having a missing child… who is overcome with grief one moment and needing to regain composure to do what needs to be done, the next. Who is battling and overcoming addiction, and staying sober…along with the difficulties of being a single parent…having to live a life of financial difficulty, as all young single parents, and having to be dependent on others to help her. Trista is truly an amazing, strong young woman. Many would not be able to handle just one of the obstacles and pain that Trista is enduring. She should be commended, not judged.
Yes, I give Trista a lot of credit for all that she is accomplishing. No parent should ever have to endure this much pain and obstacles in their life.
You see, I know the real Trista. The one that is a loving mother. I've seen her with her son. I see the pride and accomplishments she talks about with him. I see the life that she is living. I've held her son in my arms while she administered his medications and how she utilized the special adapter for his needed breathing treatments. She did it with love and with internal pain. The pain that accompanies a mother of a child with medical needs. I know that same love and pain only too well when I too had to give my infant son multiple medications to control 5 different seizure disorders to keep him alive and from going into status epileptus, of which it happened to him twice. I recognize very well that same look of love, concern and the need to be strong to advocate for my child. However, unlike Trista, I had a spouse, a home of my own and was not grieving and living the painful heartache of having a missing child. I am very proud that Trista was able to make it through the evening with stamina and love she had for all who came to support her.
|Ayla Reynolds - now age 2 - Missing from Maine - Dec 2011|
So if Trista danced for a few moments to her daughters favorite song, and sang Happy Birthday to her….it was truly for Ayla and for no other reason. I know. I was there. I am proud she made it through the evening. She did it and with love for her daughter Ayla.
If anyone has information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, please contact the Maine State Police at (207) 657-3030, your local police or 9-1-1 if you spot her.