Imagine a four year old little boy running through the hallways of his house, screaming with joy and laughter. Now imagine a little boy who is looking down at us from heaven. Just imagine a place where people’s unwanted materials end up, this was his resting place, a landfill. At times, it was excruciating, but others, happened to be an adventure.
This little boy I happen to be speaking about was named Brendan Gonzalez. The hands of his own father took his precious life. His little body was placed in a trash bin and later was discarded at the Sarpy County Landfill. With the Plattsmouth Police’s knowledge of his whereabouts and possible location, the search was then turned to the location of the landfill. At first, the search was only open to law enforcement, recovery teams, and any person with a background of search and rescue.
Both of my parents happened to be in the law enforcement field and that is how my work at the landfill began. We were told what specific items Brendan was wearing on the night of his murder. He was wearing a pair of dark blue jeans, an orange shirt with dinosaurs, and a pair of sneakers. Brendan was also wearing a chain necklace with dice that spelled his name. The first day I was there was very long and exhausting, both physically and emotionally. The thought of searching for Brendan, in a landfill, was beyond me. How could such an innocent life end up in a site like this? Going through the newspapers, clothes, car parts, toys, shoes, appliances, and dirt was quite the view.
As the days and weeks went by, the months seem to go by as well. It was getting hotter, and fewer numbers of volunteers arrived. This may have been the lowest point in the entire search. Chief of Plattsmouth Police, Brian Paulsen, had to make a decision. Thinking and deciding whether or not to allow the community to help, would be the biggest high in the search. When the search was open to citizens, we were overwhelmed by the outpour. Hundreds of volunteers came ready to work the next day. We had reached an all time high on July 17th, with over two hundred volunteers. Our enthusiasm and spirits skyrocketed. We were determined to find Brendan.
But, as all stories do come to an end, this one sadly, did not have a happy ending. Temperatures and weather were not agreeing with us, neither was the garbage. The endless search continued on until we had nothing left to scour. A plan was devised to search an extra seventy-five by twenty-five area just to be safe and make sure that we had gone through every bit and piece of trash. Depressingly, nothing turned up. By the end of July, numbers of volunteers were decreasing again, and we were left with nothing. The decision had been made to end the search for Brendan Gonzalez.
Even though we left the landfill without Brendan, he will still live in our hearts for eternity. His memory will continue to live on and will remind us of how one community pulled together in a time of need, to help one family cope with his loss. As Brian Paulsen said and I quote "with evil, brings good" is suprisingly true. For the many friends I met there, evil does bring good.
In conclusion of this essay, I still question why. Why was Brendan taken away from his family and this world? Only God knows that answer. Throughout this experience, I have learned many things. One of them, not to take things for granted. One day, the people you cherish most may be taken away from you, without an explanation. Though the landfill was excruciating at times, I did manage to get some good out of the experience. That good, was a new view of life.
Thank you for sharing, Kate