I will still keep thinking about Ayla Reynolds, even if she were not talked about occasionally on the news or in the newspapers. Keep talking about Ayla Reynolds. One of the people who knows what happened to Ayla will one day break down and speak out. It is inevitable.
How can I be so sure? In August 2010, my sister’s grandson, 21-year-old Jason Wing went missing. It doesn’t matter what age or gender the person is when they go missing; all families feel an unreal loss, like no other sensation they have ever had in their lives. All of their senses heighten; they view the world with a wary eye; their trust level plummets. They are waiting, and they will wait for as long as it takes.
They may become impatient with the law, but learn to accept that behind the scenes, the investigators do not rest, they wait with them, as they collect the means to convict; and convict they will.
Families in waiting hold on to the belief: Justice will prevail, if not before a judge, then before a higher power.
Jason’s family kept talking about him from August 2010 to the eve of my sister’s — his grandmother’s — birthday, February 2, 2012, when they found his body. Our family didn’t forget as the media and public often do, as they move on to the next headline tragedy on Nancy Grace. The part of the family that truly cares for Jason, or Ayla, is also lost until their missing family member is found.
Jason was found, so will Ayla. That is my hope. And like with Jason, I want to think of her as well until she appears, because that’s what families hope for throughout the wait. It is not about lying to oneself; we know how awful reality can be, but we don’t want to embrace that thought completely, that Jason was, or Ayla is, gone.
It’s a piece of grace, a measure of hope we give ourselves while we wait; to think of them as well and safe. Families of the missing allow ourselves that one glimmer on the horizon, but we do not wear blinders to the selfishness of others who choose to harm the helpless. We are constantly beating back the “we know better” reality with hope, while we wait.
My great nephew, Jason, was murdered. He was buried so deep in the ground that his youthful tattoos stood out in the autopsy. The man who has been charged with Jason’s death was nearly twice his age.
Dustin Trimm, the alleged murderer, is on a New York state sex offender registry. So are the two men who broke down and informed the authorities by secretly recording the alleged killer talking about Jason’s murder about a year and a half after it happened. He was buried deep on one of the men’s property.
It is satisfying to know they broke down and told the truth. I don’t know their reasons for finally choosing honesty: conscience-stricken or in fear. But I am grateful to them, and no matter what they did in the past, they are my new heroes because they led the team of investigators to Jason.
I don’t know all the details, they will come out in Dustin Trimm’s trial in a peaceful country area of upstate New York. He is out on $250,000 bail.
Talking is a bridge to all things. Talking will bring Ayla back to her family. And when the person or persons who know where Ayla is start talking, they will be my heroes.
Jason was barely 21 years old when he disappeared; Ayla, not yet 21 months. Jason will always be 21; and now a family waits on Ayla. Even a whisper begins the conversation to bring Ayla back home to the family who loves her.
My heart is with them; and to those who can reveal the truth of that night in December 2011. Many are waiting on you to be Ayla’s voice. Until then, it is my belief you will forever live in Ayla’s shadow.
Fran Drabick of Eastport is retired from human services agencies where she worked with developmentally disabled adults. She is also a poet.