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The stories of almost 17-year-old Amanda Berry, who disappeared one day before her birthday, and 14-year-old Gina DeJesus, who went missing on her way home from school, are the kinds that rarely have happy endings. They both disappeared from Cleveland, Ohio, in 2003 and there was little hope of ever finding them alive. Now, miraculously, the two, along with a third woman, Michelle Knight, who disappeared in 2002 at age 21, have been found alive in the home of a school bus driver named Ariel Castro.
It's just unbelievable. Berry called 911 from the house where she says she was kept captive and possibly tied up for a decade. All the women have been reunited with their families at the hospital, although, sadly, Berry's dedicated mother who searched for her for years died in 2006.
It's hard to even know where to begin. There are so many questions and probably always will be. It brings back all the feelings of when Elizabeth Smart was found alive or even Jaycee Dugard.
It's hard to believe there are people sick enough to take a child from her family, let alone more than one. Usually these stories have such gruesome endings that this seems almost happy. I mean, it's happy in many ways. But it also represents a decade that these girls lost with the parents who loved them. It represents an important time for a girl growing up and that was stolen away from them.
Dugard's memoir A Stolen Life explains it all. She is thrilled to be home with her family, of course, but who wouldn't feel sad about all that time lost? All that childhood missed?
It's also probably extremely painful for the families of missing girls who did NOT have "happy" endings, whose stories ended with bodies found and a life full of pain. Or maybe they have no closure at all, and maybe a story like this gives them hope, but sometimes having hope is worse than having none.
I can't even imagine what these women have been through or what their families have been through. The amount of pain of not knowing, of having to endure "psychics" telling them that their children are dead or all the countless "leads" that went nowhere. That pain doesn't just disappear.
This story is amazing, but if the man who lived in the house IS found guilty and the story is as straightforward as it seems, then it's not exactly "happy," and the men involved should pay every bit as much as a murderer. For the families, the kidnapper did, in fact, steal things that can never be given back. Berry's mother died never knowing her daughter was alive. It's just so sad, it's hard to see this as a "happy" ending.
Still, obviously, the fact that these women are alive is something. They will be able to go on and live full lives now. With a lot of counseling. My heart goes out to these families. They have a long road ahead. But at least they will be on it together now.
Would you call this a happy ending?
Image via FBI