Lisa Buske, left, and her younger sister, Heidi Allen
By Lisa Buske
On April 3, 1994, Heidi M. Allen, opened the D &W Convenience store in New Haven, NY by herself.
Instead of leaving at the end of her shift, she was abducted and remains missing today.
Many relate to the parent’s loss after the abduction of a child because this resonates to the core of family. You don’t have to be a parent to understand the impact this loss has because we all have parents and know how we would feel to lose them, the impact when the role is reversed is more intense, heart breaking, and life changing.
As the sister to one of America’s missing, I’ve seen the toll it takes on the parents, family, friends and community. Of course the family suffers the greatest loss, yet the pain and after effect is felt farther than anyone may realize. Many lives are changed forever after the abduction of one child or adult.
The family’s focus is more internal initially, our bodies enter survival mode. Sleep isn’t possible. Overeating or lack of eating is common. An inability to focus for more than a moment makes daily tasks difficult. The poor nourishment, lack of sleep, and stress induced brain freeze can even trigger mental and physical disabilities, preventing the family from returning to their daily routines.
There is a void left in the community as they accept the tragedy. The challenge is to move forward without paralyzing yourself, children, and neighborhood with fear of the unknown.
A common and natural thought is “I can’t do this. How can I survive this loss?”
Our thoughts have the ability to take us captive. It’s a choice each member of the family must make, to accept defeat or keep fighting, like we imagine our loved ones did…to survive. Twenty years later, we still wrestle with the loss of Heidi yet with the help of God and each other, we are stronger and more determined to make sure
Heidi is never forgotten and others know it’s possible to survive tragedy.
Think of the family’s journey as a roller coaster ride. The ride starts when the loved one disappears, and over the years, you are forced to travel up, down, sideways, and even upside down at times because of the things thrust at you during the search, investigation, trials and waiting.
Phone calls from law enforcement to say “A body was found. It could be Heidi.” Or “We’re following up on a tip, we’ll keep you posted.” These induce sleepless nights. Recoveries of cold case missing persons’ trigger grief and hope at the same time.
Heidi’s friends get married, have children, and share milestones via social media. Although thankful to be included in their lives, often tears trickle down our cheeks because Heidi was denied these simple joys. Natural twists and turns yet when your loved one is missing, the responses vary.
We hope and pray to know where Heidi is, but regardless of how she is found, the roller coaster ride is never over, we just get on a new one. There is no closure for the families of the missing. If you’ve lost a loved one, you say “rest in peace” when you say good-bye but to the families of the missing, we may never be able to list RIP on the headstone.
Our question is still the same, “Where’s Heidi?” but some things have changed. We are stronger. We’ve learned to endure, persevere, and cherish each moment for what it is, a memory waiting to happen. A life lesson learned years ago yet one that motivates us daily, tomorrow isn’t a guarantee, so make the most of today.
Will you join us April 3, 2014 to remember Heidi M. Allen, on the platinum anniversary of her disappearance? Enjoy a time of fellowship and light candles of hope to light Heidi’s way home. The initial search and rescue organized at the New Haven Fire Barn so it’s only fitting we gather here for this special occasion.
Today’s moment is tomorrow’s memory. Will you join us as we make new memories of hope for Heidi M. Allen? We hope you will.