My son disappeared when he was 15; ten years later, I discovered the shocking truth.

Julia believed she was providing a father role for her son when she wed Mike, the brother of her late husband. But it took her ten years, her son’s abduction, and a glasses case before she discovered the truth.

According to the Bible, “Seek and ye shall find.” I had to learn this phrase’s meaning the hard way. I’ve always believed that the gloom following my husband’s passing was the worst to come, but unfortunately, Let’s go back to the beginning of my tale.

My brief but happy existence was upended for the first time when I learned that my husband of 13 years, Tom, had cancer. The prognosis remained dire despite our best efforts, and within two months he was gone. The anguish was unbearable.

Up until the introduction of his uncle, Tom’s brother Mike, our son Robert was my only source of happiness. Though I had made my decision to go with Tom, I had a sneaking suspicion that he had been crushing on me since high school. Our sorrow brought us together once more.

No, I didn’t love him. But frankly, our house could use a strong helping hand, and I felt Rob would benefit from having a father figure. I thus decided to wed him.

Things appeared to be going well for us at first. Although I continued to miss Tom, I found myself avoiding my son as I became consumed with my career. Thankfully, I reasoned, Mike stood with me and provided Rob with the proper upbringing. After all, I heard innumerable tales of them going on hikes, visiting theme parks, or just playing catch every day when I got home. Rob came to refer to Mike as his father. I naively thought that we could fill the emptiness Tom left in our hearts and move on to become a happy family for two years. Whoa, I was wrong.

When Rob left, everything fell apart once more. I came home from work one day to find the house abnormally quiet. With tears in his eyes, Mike sat me down and told me where he had discovered Rob’s message on the refrigerator:

To Mom and Dad,

My decision to depart was based on the belief that my absence would benefit everyone by preventing me from bringing up more painful memories. Please realize that this is a decision I felt I had to make for the sake of maintaining peace at home, not because of anything you did. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me someday, and I swear to take care of myself.

Recall that I adore you both and that this decision is the hardest I’ve ever had to make.

Be careful,

The ensuing ten years merged into an unending quest. The authorities didn’t put much effort into finding the fugitive teenager. They called us on his eighteenth birthday and said, “Let’s just let him go.” In any case, he doesn’t want to be located. Yes, but I didn’t give up looking. In our town, I conducted crowd searches, stood watch, and even placed a lit candle on our windowsill. I knew that this annoyed Mike, who, after all these years, was trying so hard to convince me to move on. And I gave in at last on the tenth anniversary of Rob’s disappearance.

We looked into several choices for starting again, and after deciding to leave our previous home to my sister Schuyler, we bought a gorgeous colonial property two states away. I couldn’t imagine the house being owned by anyone other than our family. We gradually lost contact with my side of the family after moving so far away. You can imagine how shocked I was when someone I knew well knocked on my door one day.

I was preparing my husband’s suitcase for a work trip that evening. The door suddenly sprang open. I dropped the well-pressed clothes I was carrying when I opened my eyes. My sister was the one at the door. She dashed to the suitcase, yelling, “Open his glasses case!,” before I could welcome her. It was he who covered up Rob.

I was stunned to see her feverishly going through my husband’s stuff until her hands found the well-known glasses case. But when she opened it, I was in for a surprise. She pulled out a phone. Schuyler handed me the phone and opened the call log, saying, “Look.”

Feeling conflicted, I lowered my eyes and felt my heart skip a beat. There were scores of calls to Robert recorded in the log. My spouse used this burner phone to call my son once a month to…

Schuyler said, “He told him you two would be better off without him.”

It turns out that for all these years, I have been lying. When we went on walks or to theme parks, Mike would let Rob know how much of his life I was missing. He began the second half of his scheme, convincing Robert to leave us for the benefit of our family after I was far enough away. He remarked, “Look, how much work mom has to do to feed you.” “It would be lovely if she used that money for herself. Would you not want to relieve her of your burden? He recommended that Rob stay with his aunt, and my poor child agreed, believing I had no place for him.

You might wonder how it all came to light. My sister received the wedding invitations that my dear boy, who is getting married this year, sent us. Naturally, Rob brought up our disagreement when she called to congratulate him. Anybody but my sister would probably believe him, I’m sure. But she was well aware of all my hardships over the previous 10 years, so when Rob told her the truth about the burner phone, she instantly connected the dots. It didn’t take her long to board the plane and discover a decade’s worth of horrifying family secrets.

Throughout the entire call with my son, I sobbed. His warm, rich voice had replaced his rough, adolescent rasp, yet I could hear the intonations he had borrowed from me. We soon had Amanda, his fiancée, join us via FaceTime. Mike discovered me sobbing on the phone with my son who had been missing for a long time.

His justifications were ignored. That week, I served divorce papers, and a month later, I took a plane to my native state to celebrate Rob’s nuptials. I relocated in closer proximity to my son and his small family this year after selling the colonial house I used to love. I have two adorable grandkids already, and I will instill in them the value of “search and ye shall find” as they grow up.

Leave a Comment