My brother and I are 12 yeas apart. Ironic that we both had the same experience at the same age many years apart.
We both grew up in Germany. We are both bilingual. We are both spitting images of our father.
At the age of four, I was outside playing at the playground while my mom watched from our first floor balcony. Times were safer then, or were they? Most parent let their children play outside without supervision, after all we were on a military base. The one thing my dad demanded was that I wear a red coat when outside. Easier to spot, I suppose. So my mom is watching me and apparently turned away for a moment. My dad was in the living room snoozing. When she turned around, all she saw was my red coat disappearing around the corner as I held a Raggedy Ann doll and the hand of an elderly woman guiding me away. She alerted my dad, who jumped up and ran outside to get me back. From what I understand, this woman was mentally ill and thought she was the witch from Hansel and Gretel. My dad being a Military Policeman had her arrested by the German Police, only to discover she had been luring children to her home for several years. In her back yard was a huge brick stove. In that stove were the remains of children she had burned.
When my brother was four and I was sixteen, I was outside at the playground babysitting him. We still lived on a base in military housing. I told him to stay put and ran upstairs to get something to drink for us. When I returned, he was gone. I was terrified and beside myself trying to figure out what to do. I ran around for about half an hour screaming his name to no avail. i finally called my mom, and told her what was going on. Within half an hour, mom, and the MP’s were there. Neighbors came out and we began the search for my little Bro. My dad was unreachable, so my fear of his reprisal was far removed from my mind. After eight or so hours of searching for him, with no luck, my mom began to cave in on herself. I have never felt so guilty in my life.
Just as more MP’s showed up to widen the search, a woman approached is and asked what my brother looked like. We gave her a description and she said that a woman had gone to the playground early that morning and led a young boy away. She assumed the woman was his mother. Fortunately she saw where she went. We hurried to her apartment and the police banged on her door. This tiny little lady opened the door, eyes wide, bewildered and stepped aside. The cops followed by my mom and myself couldn’t believe what we saw. My brother and two other children were sitting at a table eating chocolate cake.
When the MP’s questioned her, she stated that her twins had died recently and she just needed the company of children. She said she planned to give them back eventually, maybe, but thought she could be a great mom to them if they liked her.
My brother and I were lucky. So many children disappear every year, never to be seen again, and I can tell you from my own experience, there are no words for the processing of that loss. I was not a mom, but I was a sister who would have had to deal with the guilt of her brother disappearing. I am grateful that he and I were the lucky ones.