A College Admission Essay from a Very Close Family Friend………

            Earth shattering and heart wrenching,
February 13, 2001 was a pivotal day in my life. Upon returning from school, my mother informed me that our closest family friend, Patricia Viola, had disappeared sometime during the day.  From that moment on, I experienced a whirlwind of emotions that I had no way of taming. Initially, I just thought it to be some terrible misunderstanding.  Denial soon gave way to bewilderment as my mind became cluttered with confusion; a wife and mother of two doesn't just vanish into thin air.  I tried to assure my aching soul that things like this only play out on movie screens.  As the hours of that dreadful day dragged on, it became harder to convince myself that this was just some silly practical joke Patty was playing that we would all laugh over at the next family gathering.

Days passed.  Weeks.  Months.  I watched images of Patty on the news.  I heard newscasters cover the horrific story, but their calm tone didn’t do justice to the gravity of the situation; it didn’t encompass the misery that was tearing at the hearts of Patty’s loved ones.  The articles about her on the Internet and in the newspapers also failed to capture the burning sting of my tears.  My mother and I posted signs with pictures of Patty in local post offices and stores hoping that somebody would recognize her.  As I studied the posters, I reflected on how I was there when many of these pictures were taken.  They were blissful moments in which our two families shared laughs and happiness, and now they were being plastered on store windows under the title "MISSING".  I closed my eyes and tried to remember the warmth of Patty’s presence.  I saw her there in my mind smiling the way she so often did, but when I opened my eyes, there was only the bitter winter wind stinging my face, and Patty was no closer to me than she had been before my reverie.  She was gone just as swiftly as the flash of the shutter that took those pictures. 

This was a woman I had known my whole life, who had been present at every milestone in my life from my Christening to my eighth grade graduation.  My mother baptized her son, Michael.  Her husband, Jimmy, grew up on the same street in Canarsie that my dad lived on .  Her daughter Christine, who is only a year younger than me, was one of my earliest playmates.  Though we are not blood related, Patty was family to me in every way that truly mattered.  From annual vacations to just playing in their pool throughout the summers, her family and mine forged an unbreakable bond, and now one of us is gone.

            It has been nearly three years since that drastic February afternoon, and the cops have practically closed the investigation.  We've had some false cries of hope in which people thought they spotted Patty, but unfortunately they were only cases of mistaken identity.  As horrifying as this experience has been, I have learned from it.  I have become stronger.  I have come to see how transient life is; even the most seemingly permanent things are not so.  Your whole foundation of life can just be pulled out from underneath you, and you have to somehow find the strength to build a new framework when all you can think of is the comfort and safety of the old, familiar one.  I have learned how to be strong in the face of adversity. 

            The hardest lesson I have learned is what it feels like to be helpless when the people you love are in such anguish.  You can pray and hope, but there comes to a point where you can't do much else.  It is a continued challenge for me to keep faith, but I know I mustn't relent.  Most importantly, I now understand the extreme significance of making lasting memories as they allow us to remain close to those we treasure, even when they appear to be so far out of touch.