Who’s your “missing person”?

By Caitlin Kelly


There are a few people I always want to find again, to know how their lives turned out and if they’re happy and where they live and if they had kids or grandkids.

But two of them have — bizarrely in an age of media saturation — no digital footprints at all. One is a physician, so I guess I could track her down through a medical society but the other…no idea.

The former is someone I knew from our shared years at a Toronto boarding school, where we were both nerdy, although she was much more serious and quiet than I. The latter is a man I knew (and had a huge crush on) through high school, also in Toronto, who was extremely talented as an artist. We were, for a few years, close friends, but lost touch when we graduated.

A third person is a former journalism colleague who became a crusading lawyer, but, to my shock and dismay when I last searched for him on-line, had died prematurely.

They’re like ghosts for me, visions from my childhood, adolescence and 20s I’d like to reconnect with now.

Thanks to social media, some people I’d lost touch with have found me again and reconnected, like a childhood best friend and her two brothers, the eldest of whom took me to my first formal dance — where my cool vintage blue crochet dress split right down the back when the zipper broke halfway through the evening. He was a perfect gentleman and loaned me his jacket. But it was not the elegant impression I’d hoped to leave on him.

One of the reasons I hope to find some people from my past, selfishly,  is also to reconnect with our shared memories, those unique to us. And, as someone not close to my family, my friends really are much more the repository of my memories. Too often, they know me much better than my own mother, (whose care I left at 14, for good) and father, (whose care I left at 19, for good.) I have 3 step-siblings, but we never lived together and are not close.



Half my life was spent in Canada and the second half in the United States, making me more eager to seek out those who “knew me when” — when I was young(er) and with whom I share specific memories no American has or could understand.

In London this past summer I met up again with a man I’d traveled with in Spain decades ago for two weeks after we met on a train station platform there. On that journey, I was 22, alone for four months moving across Europe, and already weary of fending off male advances.

I craved companionship and, bluntly, a male foil to keep the rest at bay.

He was smart, funny, good company. He was also handsome, with brilliant blue eyes, a student at Cambridge four years my junior. Much later he became a friend on Facebook, albeit one who never posted anything.

He asked me to go to lunch on this London visit, and I agreed, both curious and a little nervous; we’re both happily married so I knew this was innocent.

Like me, he is long partnered, had traveled widely and had no children.



We went to the Hokusai exhibition at the British Museum, (which we loved), and our afternoon was easy and comfortable and as though no time at all had passed since we’d seen one another.

It was lovely.

I’m glad we found one another again.


Do you seek out people from your past with whom you’ve lost touch?

Do they seek you out?


Then what happened?

13 thoughts on “Who’s your “missing person”?

  1. I’ve had that urge from time to time but have had little luck in finding people. Because of my ex-narcissist, (who tracked me down in June after five years of no contact – he initially scared the crap out of me and I considered calling the police) my internet footprints are almost non-existent. Perhaps there’s something like that going on with your old friend. There’s also a bit of a trend – one of my 30-something friends told me about this – among some people to avoid the internet. No internet equals sophistication or something like that.

    Good luck with your searches. 🙂

  2. There are a few people I’ve lost touch with who I’d like to re-contact, particularly a handful from school who I haven’t seen in 40-odd years. Facebook’s been handy, but not everybody’s on it. I tend to be a bit philosophical; they could, if they wanted, doubtless track me down – I’ve got a fair social media platform – and it’s a two-way street. When I have run into people from the past – as you say – it’s as if no time has passed; an intriguing phenomenon.

    1. I wonder how many people are reluctant to re-open a door. Someone recently found me through Facebook from more than 30 years ago and my city of origin. I didn’t remember her (!) but accepted her friend request. That’s the harder part for me; I was so busy in college with freelancing and school that people will remember me but not vice versa. We have an alumni event in NYC this week, but many of the people I would know are not in NY now.

  3. it is something i think about from time to time. i was able to reconnect, through Facebook, with my earliest friend. she was also very close to my sister who passed away. later in life she got married, move to california, and had a family. our reconnection came about a few years ago, and we’ve been in touch ever since. one of my daughters took her family to disneyland and they met her there. she remembers her when she was a baby. interesting how the generations have crossed over and met anew.

  4. I once sought out a bully from elementary school to let him know I didn’t hold a grudge against him. He actually apologized quite a bit about how he acted as a kid, even though I told him we were cool. From what I could gather, teasing me wasn’t the only demon plaguing him in his adult years, so I’m glad I managed to get that one off his back.
    In the end, I guess I did more for him than for myself.

    1. oooohhhh….squash. sigh. I used to play 3x a week but blew out both my knees and had meniscus repair on both…now have very bad osteoarthritis in my right one (replacement needed.) I’m still glad I enjoyed it all those years….not allowed to play anymore.

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