For the past couple of days, two stories have been appearing in various forms in the media–one splashier than the other, but both are what parents nightmares are made of. These are the situations they hope they don’t get a phone call about. One is about Amanda Knox, the college student who is in an Italian jail waiting to see if she will spend years there if she’s found guilty for murdering her roommate in a crime that reads like an outlandish tale– perfect for a murder mystery novel. Evidence is not conclusive.
The other story is about Devon Hollahan, an English teacher who vanished from the streets in Frankfurt, Germany at two in the morning when his friend was asking for directions after they attended a Portugal and the Man concert. Hollahan was about twenty feet away from his friend whose back was turned just long enough for Hollahan to disappear unnoticed.
In both cases, the parents of Knox and Hollahan, two people in their early twenties, are part of heartbreaking scenarios and a testimony to the worst that can happen when children grow up past childhood and travel miles past their parents’ admonitions to be careful.
Such news is hard enough when it happens within ones own country. When it happens in a foreign country, parents find themselves in positions dealing with horrific situations in places that may have different procedures than their own country. The legal system in Italy works differently than the one in the U.S., for example.
Knox’s parents and Hollahan’s dad jumped on airplanes in order to offer help. Being on the same side of the Atlantic is a start. It’s a way to be involved, to take action–to have a role in an outcome even if the action does not turn up a positive result.
Hollahan’s dad is not hopeful that his son will be found alive but the dad’s presence in Frankfurt is surely helping the investigation. Hopefully, he will not have to wait long to find out some answers. I can’t imagine what it would be like to take a trip back across the Atlantic without knowing.
In Knox’s case, the verdict will be coming soon. Her family is hopeful they’ll be bringing her home with them. Again, the alternative seems too dreadful.
Both parents’ stories are a reminder that when we travel, it’s important to keep in mind the loved ones we have left at home. Although there are no guarantees when we get up in the morning that our day will go swimmingly well without a mishap, when taking on a particular adventure or experience keep in mind that it’s better to keep ones wits about you and not let your guard down without being aware of your circumstances.
Consider the thought, if this situation goes wrong, what would my parents do? On the other hand, life in one’s own country is risky as well. Life is risky business. In Knox’s case, though, who would have ever dreamed up such a story?