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Disbelief (22 October 2006 - 9:31 a.m.)

This one is really hard to write, but I have to get it out. I need you, my friends, more than ever. Please bear with me. If my words donít make sense, itís because thereís very little sense to be made of this tragic situation.

Yesterday afternoon, around 4:30, I received news that caused me to collapse on the floor. I screamed and screamed and screamed.

My 39 year-old brother, Mark, is missing and presumed dead.

Details are sketchy. All we know right now is that he went duck hunting late Friday afternoon. There were very high winds, and the river was extremely choppy. We donít understand why he went out under those conditions. We do know that he didnít plan to stay long because he had made arrangements to pick his ex-girlfriendís daughter up at 6:00 to take her to dinner. He never made it. His ex thought that was unusual, but she wasnít able to reach him on his cell phone, and didnít know what else to do.

The next day, Mark was supposed to go hunting with friends. When he didnít show up, they went to the place where his duck blind is located to look for him. They found his truck with his cell phone in it, and then his boat, which had drifted to shore and run out of gas. Worst of all, they found his jacket in the river, with one sleeve turned inside out, which indicates that he struggled to get out of it so it wouldnít weigh him down in the water.

We donít know how he ended up in the water. Perhaps he fell in while gathering his decoys. We just donít know. And not knowing is hell.

A search party of about 75 people looked for my brother all day yesterday. There was a helicopter, and there were divers. They have not yet found Markís body. This is killing us.

Mark and his ex-girlfriend/fiancee,Tamica, split up a couple of weeks ago, after living together for nine years. Tamicaís daughter was a toddler when Mark first came into her life, and she thought of him as her father. She called him daddy.

Tamica is a wreck. She told us yesterday that she still loves Mark, and she said she was too immature (she is several years younger than Mark) to have admitted that she was wrong. Now itís too late.

Mark has a biological daughter, Meaghan, who is twenty-one years old. She made my brother a very young grandfather when she gave birth to a daughter two years ago. Talking to Meaghan about what happened was one of the hardest things Iíve ever had to do.

Looking into the tortured eyes of my mother and father is even more difficult. And talking to Markís identical twin brother, Mike, rips my heart out. Especially when he says things like, ďI hate to look in the mirror now because all I see is Mark.Ē Or, ďI canít stand the thought of him in that cold water. I just want them to find him and get him out so heíll be warm.Ē

Oh God. I need to scream some more.

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