NEW HAVEN, NY – Standing at the site where her sister disappeared more than 18 years ago, Lisa Buske unveiled the cover of her book on Friday, what would have been Heidi Allen’s birthday.
On April 3, 1994, Heidi Allen went missing from the convenience store at the intersection of Route 104 and 104B in New Haven. Authorities say she was kidnapped by a couple of local brothers and is presumed dead.
Her body has never been located. But to this day, the case remains open and police continue to investigate, according to Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd.
Buske said she revealed the cover as a birthday gift to her sister, “and what better place than here at the remembrance garden.”
She thanked her parents for permission to write the book in the first place. They told her she didn’t need their permission; but if they hadn’t given it, she would have written it, but it would have just sat in a filing cabinet somewhere, she added.
It was a fun journey and a difficult journey, she said.
The target audience for Buske’s book (“Where’s Heidi: One Sister’s Journey) is siblings. She is aiming to have the book released April 3, 2013, the anniversary of her disappearance; so that there can be some hope on that day instead of, “Oh, I remember where I was that day when I heard…”
There are four different things going on on the cover. It reflects the New Haven community. It has a rose in the Remembrance Garden, which was created by the community to remember Heidi.
“To me, it hurt to have a garden when we didn’t have Heidi,” Buske admitted. “But, on the tough days, this is where I come.”
The focal point of the cover is the rose. It bloomed on April 3 this year.
“How often do you see a rose bloom in Upstate New York on April 3? It snows on April 3. But roses don’t bloom. So that’s my symbol of hope on the cover. It was as if God bloomed that flower just to remind me that He loves me,” Buske said fighting back tears. “This was the most difficult year because now she’s been missing for as many years as she was alive.”
In the background is the store. The store is important, because it is family, too, she said.
“I want the book to reflect who we are as a community and a family. So the store needs to be there. It is not a bad place. It was a bad thing that happened,” she said, her voice wracked with emotion. “The little bud, that is God working in my life. I may never fully bloom on this side of Heaven, I am majorly a work in progress.”
The cover is like a map that represents everyone in the community.
“Instead of viewing this as a place of tragedy, let the store fade into the background and focus on the hope in front of you. Only God could bloom a rose on the very day that it snowed 18 years prior. This isn’t a place of tragedy, it is a place of hope. The community put the garden here to keep us hopeful. So, don’t give up,” Buske said.
“We will always be working on this case, absolutely, until we bring Heidi home,” Sheriff Todd vowed.
He indicated a nearby “Where’s Heidi?” sign and said, “I want to be the first one there when they put the sign up that says ‘Heidi is Home!’ Every time we get a bit of information, we act on it. Someone was convicted, but the final outcome is to bring Heidi home.”
After Heidi disappeared, Buske couldn’t find anything written that helped siblings cope with such a loss.
“If you were a parent, there were shelves of books or if you were a grandparent, there were shelves of books for you to use. However, if you were a sibling, other than a pamphlet from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there is nothing there. I thought I was alone. As a sibling, there is no way I can put into words how my parents are feeling – abduction affects each member of the family and community differently. There is a blanket feeling, emotion or way to grieve, it depends on each individual and the role they hold in the tragedy. If a parent is able to read my book to help them in dealing with their siblings still here, it will be a blessing, yet the purpose is to help the sibling,” Buske told Oswego County Today recently. “It is my heart’s desire for others to be blessed and see God never leaves us during difficult times, it is us that leave Him – we need only open our eyes and hearts and recognize His love and comfort. Easier said than done until I reflected back. He never left me, I had left Him.”
She said she didn’t share her feelings with her parents “because I didn’t want to burden them; they had already lost their daughter, I am not going to burden them with my feelings. So I just internalized it.”
Her book is to help other siblings know that they’re not alone.
Her first draft was done in 2006; something the author now describes as emotional vomit and was written in three days.
“It was 76 pages of yuck, hurt, anger and frustration,” she explained. “Now it does have a story and a purpose, so that people know that there’s hope. You don’t have to live with all the emotional garbage. You might have to write it down, but you don’t have to live with it – you can toss it in a fire and burn it.”
“Over the last six years, I have spent a lot of time revising and modifying,” she said, adding that it’s been hard because she has lost a lot of memories. “That’s something a lot of people don’t realize, when there’s tragedy, memory is greatly affected. So, it’s difficult to go back and remember the hard stuff and then try to fill in the gaps.”
“I honestly have not read my book in its entirety,” she continued. “I have written the whole thing … I’ve had it edited … But I have not read it from beginning to end – I just can’t! I have relived it enough to write the chapters, God orchestrated putting it all together. My goal is to read the book from beginning to end and see what He did.”
Despite some people saying (losing someone) gets easier over time, Buske said that really isn’t true.
“It doesn’t get any easier. You just learn to live differently, you learn to accept what’s happened. It’s all about choices,” she said. “It’s not easier any day without my sister. But I’m definitely a stronger and different person than I was the day she disappeared.”
The last chapter of the book was the most difficult to write, “because (Heidi) is still missing. So how do I end the book when the story’s not told. We’ll know someday (what happened). I might not know on this side of Heaven – but I will know.”
Whether her sister might ever be found leaves Buske with mixed emotions.
“When I pray, I don’t even know what to pray. I pray God’s will because I honestly … if they find a body and identify it as my sister there will be a sense of ‘OK, we know where she is.’ But then there is no more hope that I might see her again.”
According to “evidence,” they are looking for remains, she said without going into further detail.
“We won’t forget her and we will continue to work to bring her home,” the sheriff added.
A member of the media asked the sheriff if he’d retire if Heidi were to be found in the near future.
“Is she trying to push me into retirement?” he quipped and then seriously continued, “I’d have to honestly say that if we were to find Heidi tomorrow I could retire next week. I have no regrets but my one regret if I retire before we find her would be that. Even if we were to bring (Heidi) home tomorrow, this case will never be forgotten.”
“I adore him. I adore him,” Buske said smiling at the sheriff. “I adore them all. They have not forgotten Heidi. They call me, put up with some of my antics.”
She has received a lot of response since she began blogging about her sister. Hopefully, people will remember things that they thought might not be important but could help make the connection.
“You never know what missing puzzle piece it is. The little things could be important,” Buske pointed out.
Losing Heidi was difficult, her mother, Sue Allen, told the large crowd circling the Heidi Allen Memorial Garden near the store.
“We also worried about Lisa. But today, Lisa’s showed us that you can turn your life around,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion. “We hope (her book) will help others. We are happy and proud that she is remembering today on her birthday in this special way.”
These days whenever she drives by the community garden near the store, she smiles knowing that it represents one small way the community shows their continued love and remembrance for her sister, and she says a prayer for her each time, “which encourages my heart knowing that God hears and answers each prayer given Him.”
On birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, there is an emptiness that is sometimes too sad for words, she admits.”Those are the times I turn to God and pray for the strength to get through the day.”
She encourages people to check out her blog http://www.lisambuske.com/blog.html or website: http:/LisaMBuske.com or be her friend on Facebook: Lisa M Buske (her writing Facebook page)
If you want to talk writing – you can email her at Lbuskewrite[email protected]