Saying a rushed “goodbye” as a loved one heads out the door in the morning is such routine in our busy lives, we never expect that it may be the final parting word.
Back in 2003, Kevin Fasting’s family didn’t get the chance to say anything else. The father-of-three from Liverpool left for work one day and then removed himself from their lives. He penned a letter saying he believed he’d let his children down.
Yet when I meet Kevin’s daughter, it’s clear he’s adored. Becky Fasting shows me a treasured album of pictures of her Dad. She refers lovingly to each one, and poses herself the question of what he would look like today. The answer worries her: “I could walk past him in a rush, and not even know. That’s a really scary thought... I might not recognise my own Dad”.
So Becky’s placed those photographs on social media to increase the opportunities for recognition. She has a Facebook page and Twitter hashtags, all designed to get Kevin’s image seen far and wide. The goal is to get those who “live or die” by smartphones, to see his face when they glance down at their gadget and then glance up to see his face for real.
At the time of Kevin’s disappearance, the only realistic search options for the Fastings were via the authorities, and putting-up posters in nearby neighbourhoods. They had no results. By contrast, harnessing the internet has generated possible sightings nationwide. None have proved positive, but each provides hope.
Kevin’s sister Tracy tells me that such responses “hit home” the reality of his absence, after years of “learning to live with it”. It’s a reality that will “hit” again this Sunday on his 59th birthday. Tracy’s plea is impassioned: “Come back and share your birthday with us!”
If social media is ever going to bring the Fastings a present, then now is the time.
Anyone who believes they have seen Kevin can phone the Missing People Helpline on 116 000. The call is free and confidential. Any missing person can use the same number to get a message home.