Mother Finds Healing in Writing
ST. JOSEPH (AP) - Melodye Faith Hathaway decided to write a book on the anguish over her missing young son to help others know peace reigns after battles with grief.
The Hiawatha woman spent several hours on a recent Sunday at Hastings signing copies of her book, "In Search of Jeremy: A Mother's Story." The book details the account and reflections on the search for her missing 4-year-old boy in February of 1977.
Jeremy was at a babysitter's residence south of Atchison - in an area known as Potato Hill - on Friday, Feb. 18, 1977 - when he went missing.
"I was at work at City Hall in Atchison" and nine months' pregnant with her daughter, Amanda, Hathaway said. It marked the fifth day that Jeremy stayed at the residence.
He and another 4-year-old became separated in bluffs near the residence. Citizens band radio was used to distribute an alert that Jeremy, who was deaf, was missing.
"That was the beginning of the nightmare," Hathaway said.
The Atchison County Sheriff's Department was contacted for search assistance, followed soon after by helicopters from Fort Leavenworth, an airplane, and the Kansas City Police Department canine unit.
"We even had a psychic from New York" who succeeded in locating one of Jeremy's gloves, she said.
"Saturday, everybody came," she said. "The whole community was giving of their time." Members of the Kansas National Guard joined in the effort the next day, and an air-scent dog and his guide spent 22 consecutive hours searching for the youth. Their attempt led them to an area just off the Missouri River, where all searchers eventually converged. A handprint was found.
"The river that year was frozen," Hathaway said. "It was an ice jam."
Warmer weather caused the ice to break loose and float downriver. It's believed that Jeremy may have been on one of the pieces. His body was never found.
Her loss led to a variety of emotions that she struggled to overcome.
"I went through counseling and everything," she said, but all to no avail. "I found another avenue. It was to write ... Whenever it would well up inside me, I would write. Any type of journaling is excellent."
Hathaway began the book on Jeremy's disappearance in 1979, but only finished the e-book last year after spending time with college, work and family. A paperback edition was published in September.
"I've been doing book talks in the neighboring communities," she said. Readers, including mothers who have lost children in one way or other, have told her the work elicits tears and sympathetic grief.
"You will find hope in my words" and peace from God, she said of the book's major lessons. "God gives you the children he wants you to raise."