It's hard enough for a woman to search for a child they gave up for adoption years later. But what Carol King-Eckersley experienced is on a whole different level of difficult. That's because upon attempting to track down Kenneth Bissett -- the son she gave up for adoption 45 years ago, in order to protect the reputation of her father, who was a high school principal -- she learned that Bissett was among hundreds of people killed on Pam Am Flight 103, when the plane exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988.
But it took nearly 25 years for King-Eckersley to realize the horrible event, which to date remains the deadliest act of terrorism to occur in the U.K., had hit so close to home. Unbelievably heartbreaking.
King-Eckersley told the BBC of her experience:
270 people died in that tragedy and one of those happened to be the only child I ever had. And I didn’t even know it until last April. So it became a kind of double tragedy. I found him and I lost him on the same day.
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King-Eckersley found out that Bissett had been on his way home from Syracuse University's overseas program in London. And the only thing that is remotely heartening is that the grieving mother is now finding some solace by learning more about her son. She actually recently attended a remembrance event at Syracuse, which lost 35 students in the attack. King-Eckersley elaborates:
I'm just starting to get to know him. In a way, I'm going backwards because the getting to know him makes it sharper, makes the regret deeper.
So sad ... but thankfully, King-Eckersley can take some joy in memories of Bissett shared by friends and classmates. From everything she's been told and read about him, she says, "he was an absolutely brilliant young man with a marvelous sense of humor." At the very least, it's amazing to know she learned that about Bissett -- and it's something she can hold close to her heart for the rest of her life.
Have you ever learned about a tragedy long after the fact? How did you cope?