Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Light a candle and help them find their way home...

It has been an emotional day - battles were fought - some were won and others saw no winners.

Ryan Nadeau is still missing and his wife's desk sits empty. Our office is filled with hushed whispers and clucking tongues and although everyone on the floor knows, no one speaks of it. Ryan's brother in law has been at work and although his mood is fair - an inexplicable sadness still falls over him like a grey storm cloud.


What can we do?

Essentially, nothing. Posters are circulating and are being posted in our city and beyond. Articles are being written and news broadcasts carry his photo and interviews with Amanda. Keeping his face out there, his story current is all anyone can do at this point in time. They family has done and continues to do everything they can. Friends, coworkers and strangers are uniting for a common cause: bringing Ryan home.

We all ask, how does a person just disappear? How can a person cease to exist? No trace. No record. Erased.

I don't know all the details of Ryan's disappearance but I understand how people can be lost, even when they are right beside you.

Today, after a few of us returned from posting Ryan's missing person posters around the campus, I had an email from a friend of a friend. She and I had been in contact because our mutual friend, Nire, has been on a slow and steady decline into mental illness. Or perhaps it was a rapid decline and we just didn't see it. Or we saw it and pretended it wasn't there.

I've known for a while something was "off" with Nire. I've known her for 23 years. She's been my best friend and big sister, confident and support network. Three years ago, as I was embroiled in being a new mother, something went seriously wrong for her. As her story started to unfold, it sounded like she'd found love. I was unsure if it was reciprocated but as time passed, it seemed to have potential.

But things changed. Our conversations began to get muddled - she'd speak of one thing and the next time, she'd repeat the tale but with a different ending or middle... Then the object of her affection became a dark, seemingly heartless jerk who was toying with her heart and emotions. Not being clear with her, sending her mixed messages. Professing feelings but hiding from her.

Slowly things slid further. Messages, conspiracies and accusations of everyone betraying her. It was nonsense and ramblings of a crazy person. I remember telling her that it sounded crazy and couldn't be possible. She said she realized how it sounded but she was certain it was fact.

I'd speak to her again a few weeks later and she sounded like she'd come back to reality. The next conversation with her was again, nonsense.


I ask myself now why I didn't act then. I knew there was a problem - something was wrong... I knew I was only one friend of many - could I be imaging things? Why did no one else seemed concerned by her behaviour? What could I do? She was holding her job and although she'd been more-or-less demoted, she admitted an addiction to Facebook caused some issues at work. Her son didn't seem concerned. Maybe I was the crazy one?

More time passed and then odd emails started appearing from her. Accusing things - odd statements like "Corrie, quit fighting, she's my mother". When questioned, she said several coworkers were standing outside her cubicle talking about 'the game' (what she'd started to call the entire conspiracy) and she'd found out a long time ago that the only way to end these games was to email someone else involved.

I contacted her older brother. He was useless. Absolutely and utterly useless. I understand they aren't close. I understand they live two different lives. But as a family member and human being, shouldn't he have been concerned?

I contacted three of her other friends. One called me back and yelled at me. Literally reduced me to tears. One offered help, but didn't know what to do and her other "old time friend" was concerned but didn't know what to do either.

I called around to different agencies looking for help. Short of the police or an adult crisis unit, I was powerless to do anything. I had resigned myself to just sit tight, talk to her son and wait.

Her son said everything was "fine" and that his Mom had just been really lonely. At that point, I decided that perhaps I should just be her friend - listen to her, support her and try to steer her towards some professional help (which I had been doing since I first realized that something was wrong). I knew that everyone else in her life had been pushed out of it because they all told her she was crazy and needed help. I knew that I was one of the only people left and I could get her to talk and as crazy as she sounded and as draining as it was, I knew that I had to keep in contact with her in case things went south.

And as I spoke to her step mother today and to the mutual friend, I realized just how easy it is to disappear. To vanish and not even have anyone notice...

So tonight, my head is filled with thoughts. Of Ryan and his family, of Nire and her family. Of the people wandering the streets, lost - no matter what the cause.

Let's all light a candle and help at least one of them find their way home.



  1. This is very true, thank God for those friends who stick with each other and help them through the highs and lows of life. Not everyone would have done what you did and if everyone has someone in their life like that it would make a big difference. But also for those who are friends such as you, if everyone together chipped in to help someone as a team it would also be less draining on the ones who still care deeply and are trying to help. It is very difficult to be involved in these things but someone has to be... Good for you!

  2. Thank you, Ashley, thank you so much for your kind words.



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