The search for a missing baby in Zion, Illinois has taken a startling turn. Cops were notified Wednesday morning that Joshua Summeries was missing. His mom said she'd last seen the 5-month-old in his crib around 5 a.m. By 8 a.m., he was gone.
Emergency workers and volunteers have been working round the clock to bring him home, but now the police have a new mission for residents. Zion police chief Wayne Brooks has announced little Joshua is feared "harmed or worse."
He wants the people of Zion to check their personal property ... especially their garbage cans.
I don't think I need to tell you what that means.
I don't think any of us want to imagine it, least of all the friends and neighbors of Joshua Summeries' mom.
Just imagine you're going about your daily business. You go to take the remains of last night's dinner out to the curb, you open the lid, and ...
I don't want to picture what could be next.
I don't know that I could do it.
I respect that the cops only have so much manpower, and they need every bit of help they can get from local residents. But I don't want to imagine a baby lying dead in a hypothetical garbage can. So I can't imagine I'd be able to stomach going out to my own, actual trash bin, and taking a peek.
How do you recover from seeing something like that?
I've seen a few dead bodies in my life, all at funerals -- thank goodness. And even those bodies, bodies I knew were there, bodies I technically "chose" to look at (or at least to visit), have had various effects on me. At one point I was waking up at night, haunted by the last time I saw a long-time colleague who died suddenly from cancer.
Do I sound selfish?
Of course I do. I know that. I know that this is about a child, an innocent little boy who went missing in the middle of the night under mysterious circumstances. There are allegations that Joshua's mom has changed her story a few times, from him having disappeared between 5 and 8 to her possibly having asked her boyfriend to check on him because he was crying and not seeing Joshua after the boyfriend did his thing.
Who knows how it happened.
What we do know is that a child is missing, and the community has been asked to help.
And no matter how selfish we want to be and how shocking it would be to face this horror, this is how it works. You roll up your sleeves, and you help. A missing baby isn't just the family's problem. It's everyone's problem.
Helping is the right thing to do; I know that. One of my earliest memories is of my own father being called out to help in the search for a missing child in our town, a friend of mine from preschool. She was found. She is fine. She's now a mother of two.
If only we could expect a similar outcome for this missing baby.
What would you do in this situation? Would you get out there and look or would you be too horrified to act?
Image via Zion Police