There were police officers, detectives, inspectors, bloodhounds, helicopters, guys searching through our whole house, including my room. A dozen police cars in our street. Questions asked again and again. It would have all been very exciting if it wasn't so terrifying. As it started to get dark out, I had to remind myself to breath. I felt constantly nauseous. I felt petty and shallow for bawling my eyes out about missing my husband just one week before.
My best friend Kelly stayed the night. We finally decided to rest our eyes a little after midnight. It was strange to go in and out of sleep, having to remind myself that the nightmare was real. I worried for him being out in the cold every time I heard the heater turn on.
Then just before noon on Tuesday morning, we finally got the call from the police that he had been found and that he was safe! As my dad talked with the officer on the phone, my hubby got online. It was perfect timing. He was the first person that I got to tell. We family took a beat to stop and thank God for protecting Rich. We were all sobbing, we were so happy. Before that call, I honestly was starting to believe that my brother could be dead. Words cannot describe the relief we all felt. God had been there with us and with Richie the whole time. Minutes later, I crashed my phone from trying to send too many texts at once, telling everyone the good news.
Family, friends, church, facebook, twitter, we had literally hundreds of people praying for him. Possibly over 1000. My dad (being a mathematical man) is going to sit down tonight to try to make an estimation. We had people praying across the country, and in Europe, Korea, China, Australia, and Afghanistan. If we had accepted dinner from everyone that offered on Monday night, we would have had a feast. Friends came to pray with us. Breakfast was provided for us on Tuesday morning. Never before have I felt so much love and support from this many people. The police force was awesome. The volunteers were awesome. Our friends and family were awesome. God is awesome. His love endures forever.
Here is something that my dad wrote explaining what happened:
Thank you all for your prayers, thoughts, help, and rejoicing these past 36 hours. Autistic folk often don't anticipate how others might interpret their actions, and they are also not known to be meticulous planners. Rich is high-functioning (~Asbergers) and has a good heart. He decided it was time to strike off to college, so packed a bag and left the house before dawn, figuring he would call us when he got settled. He successfully navigated the Chicago commuter rail, then Amtrak, a taxi, and checked into a hotel on campus about 3.5h from Chicago. Thankfully the campus police noticed him and talked with him, eventually connecting with Naperville Police. We got the call at about 11am just as Jonathan and I were about to head into the city to search, and as armies Argonne, Church, UChicago, and School of the Art Institute friends were organizing a systematic area-wide flier distribution and search. We jumped in the car and 4 hours later were having pizza together. Richie is safe in his bed, we are all exhausted, but joyously thankful.