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Meeting the McCanns

Watch the video of Reg's piece and learn more about the disappearance of the McCanns on our in depth page for Missing the McCanns.

As a journalist, nothing to me has ever been more difficult than walking into the lives of those who have lost loved ones.  It's even more difficult when they have disappeared under the most horrific of circumstances; their fate, their whereabouts, unknown.
I was thinking about this a lot as I knocked on the door of Brett and Mary-Ann McCann.  I was also keenly aware that, for close to four months now, their grief, that of their children, and indeed their extended family has overwhelmed their daily lives and been prominently displayed on television and in the press.
I wasn't entirely sure how I would be received. I knew, of course, that this unlikely meeting was, for them, a means to an end, a calculated act.   The media has the power to reach many people, but the aggrieved parties have to sacrifice their privacy, their pain, and offer it up for the camera to get the media's attention.  It is a sad, uneasy dance for everyone involved.
They met me with warmth and grace.   They are lovely, down-to-earth folks now immersed in a nightmare I can't begin to imagine.  They were also, clearly, emotionally exhausted.  How could they not be?  How many sleepless nights, how many gut-wrenching days, can any one family endure?  This tragedy has been unfolding for the better part of four months now.
They had nothing but good things to say about "the media" and their sensitivity - which was nice, and maybe even surprising to hear about a crowd that can be as insensitive as a bunch of guys at a high school dance, and who can turn on you quicker than a pack of dogs.
It was hard to listen to them refer to their parents in both the past and present, in almost the same sentence - to see them struggle to check their emotions.  But what impressed me most about the McCanns was their resolve.  Through the pain, through the torment, they push on, unwavering.
No stone is left unturned, no tip left unanswered. They didn't really want to talk to me about the elephant in the room, the thing everyone was talking "around", the fact that there will, almost certainly, be no happy ending.  But in the end, they did. They, too, now recognize that they have to find a way, with winter coming, to find some level of closure.  Lyle and Marie would want that.
We left with small talk and handshakes and smiles.  Well, not quite.  It was me that was having a tough time keeping my emotions in check.  I gave Mary-Ann a hug.  It was something she had said about Lyle and Marie.
"They had a way of making everyone in their presence feel like the most important person in the world."
We all know, or knew, someone like that.  I certainly did, and I can't imagine what I would do if something like this had happened to them.