There has been a lot of attention around Sarah Shourd's release from Iran's Evin Prison in the past few days. My heart goes out to Sarah, and I am truly happy for her safe return to her family. I am the other Sarah, the daughter of Robert "Bob" Levinson, the American citizen who went missing in Iran three and a half years ago. I am getting married in 6 days, and, as of this moment, my father will not be there to walk me down the aisle. I ask you to remember him too.
My father disappeared on March 9, 2007 on Iran's Kish Island, while he was on private business investigating cigarette smuggling. There is no evidence that he ever left Iran - his passport has never appeared in any other country and his name has not appeared on any flight manifests leaving Iran. A few weeks after his disappearance, Press TV, an Iranian government-sanctioned media outlet, reported that my dad was "in the hands of Iranian security forces." No other details were provided, and the Iranian government has never delivered the full report of the investigation promised to us three years ago. We have no more information today than when my father first disappeared, and as my wedding day quickly approaches, the thought of my father's absence pains me to the depths of my soul.
I thank God every day that at least I still have hope, at least there is a chance that, by some miracle, the government of Iran will find my father and send him home to us, in time for him to walk me down the aisle and give me away. Time is running out though.
Still, even though my father's case has mostly fallen out of the public eye, even though I'm not sure what more I can say to get action from those in Iran's government that can help me, even though we have no more information than we did when my dad went missing on March 9, 2007, I have a small glimmer of hope that Iran's Supreme Leader and President will do what is right, and intensify their government's efforts to find my father and send him home in the next 6 days. I have hope that my and my family's prayers will soon be answered, and that my father will be by my side at my wedding.
Even with this hope, I still find myself fighting back tears constantly. It hurts to talk to my mother as I hear the pain in her voice when we plan what is supposed to be a happy occasion. It is absolutely unbearable to tell the florist that we might not need a Father of the Bride boutonnière, to make back up plans with the Church for my brother to give me away, or to tell the DJ that there might not be a Father-Daughter dance. How am I supposed to explain these things when I know my father is still alive in Iran? And when worse still, I know that he is suffering somewhere there just waiting and praying to come home to us?
My heart aches now writing this - it has been three and a half long years since my father disappeared on Kish Island, off the coast of mainland Iran. I never thought he wouldn't be able to come home to us. I never thought there was a chance he wouldn't be there one day to walk me down the aisle.
My heart aches even more when I consider the emails my family has received into our website, www.helpboblevinson.com, detailing sightings of my father in Iran, and telling us of the related health issues that he has faced. In addition to my father's existing ailments of diabetes, hypertension and gout, we have been told of several illnesses he has suffered from over these past three and a half years, including a peptic ulcer, a recurring eye infection, a severe, persistent cough, a significant weight loss, and perhaps most troubling, the infliction of a diabetic coma. I know my father is alive, and I worry every day for his health based on these reports.
The joy of life has all but disappeared for my family. Graduations have lost significance. Birthdays are incomplete. Anniversaries are insufferable. The happiness has disappeared from my mother's eyes, and the laughter that once filled our house has been silenced. Each of the past 1,290 days has been longer than the day prior, each hour more painful than the previous, and each occasion marked with more despair than the one before. I don't want what is supposed to be the happiest day of my life to suffer the same fate.
For the rest of my life, I don't want to wonder if I did everything I could to bring my father home in time for my wedding. I desperately plead once more with both the government of Iran and the government of the United States to do everything they can in the next 6 days to find my father and send him home, with time enough to walk me down the aisle and give me away to the love of my life. My father always told me that the happiest day of his life was the day he married my mother. I once again implore anyone who has the power to help, please do everything possible to make my fiancé's and my wedding day the happiest day of our lives too.
Sarah Levinson, 30, is the 3rd-oldest daughter of Robert Levinson, the American citizen missing in Iran since March 2007. Sarah has six brothers and sisters. She works in the financial services industry and lives in New Jersey.