Tuesday, September 30, 2014

missing: her garden is gone

joy's house is about two miles away from mine and i think if i were to count up the times i've driven by it, twice a day, to and from work, it'd be in the hundreds now.

i loved her garden. in may it was bursting and overflowing with green and color and i saw her out there a few times. bent at the waist, digging, pulling and tending...her long blond hair in a ponytail.

she went missing on september 7 and for a few days, she was all over the news. here one day, shopping with her husband at a local garage sale...gone that night without a trace. keys left behind. purse on the counter.

our newspaper covered the story a few days into it, but really, our hometown is out of the coverage area so after the initial reports and a few updates, there hasn't been much to say.

i saw a few "missing" posters around town hung up in shop windows. eventually, they turned into advisories for fisherman, kayakers and hikers to be on the lookout when they used the shenandoah river. the sheriff never came out and said it, but it's slowly gone from search to recovery.

but nobody mentions joyce much in the news now because a college student in charlottesville went missing around the same time and they caught then man and now they're linking him to another murder of a college student a few years back. it's bigger news, i suppose, than the mysterious end to the quiet life of a 51-year old mother and garden lover.

and now, her garden is gone.

i drove by this weekend and it's been taken down and raked. nothing is left in her tiny plot of plants.

gone, too, are the missing posters and the river advisories.

must be that the smaller, sad news is harder for us to take.  harder for us to hang on to. nothing for us to grasp when the news cycle comes back 'round with the latest catastrophes and car crashes and workplace shootings.

i still drive by joyce's house every day, to and from work, and i think about her.

i catch glimpses of the river behind her house and i can't help but think of where the authorities assume she ended up.

i wish her story wasn't so easy to forget.

more than anything, though, i wish joyce was still around to tend to her cold-weather vegetables.

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