By DAVID MOASE
MALILA Howell is trying to get on with her life but her thoughts make it impossible.
She works with a Landcare group, has started going to university and tries to read often but it doesn't take long for her thoughts to stray.
They stray to her daughter Rose, who has been missing since April 11, 2003.
This week Rose will again be at the front of her mind during Missing Person's Week, which is organised to provide support for people waiting for news of loved ones.
"Life is pretty weird," Mrs Howell said.
"I am always looking, always wondering when will I know what has happened to Rose or if I will ever know.
'I go through the motions of living, you have to keep yourself involved in things, but often my thoughts drift away."
It is more than two years since she last saw her daughter, who disappeared while travelling between the Bellingen area and Coffs Harbour.
There were sightings of her hitchhiking that morning but police have been unable to find any productive leads.
There are many similar stories around the state, where 9335 people were reported missing between July 2004 and June 2005.
Police eventually locate 99 per cent of missing people, with most found or returning home within 14 days.
For the family and friends of those who don't return, however, life can never return to normal.
"I'm not as desperately mad as I was two years ago but I wouldn't say life was easier," Mrs Howell said.
"I was doing some pretty crazy things back then, searching in the bush.
"I would never give up hope of seeing Rose again.
"My greatest hope is that she will walk in the door in five minutes and there will be a perfectly unsinister explanation for what happened.
"I would like to know what happened but sometimes I fear I never will."
n police and welfare agencies launched Missing Persons Week in Melbourne yesterday, urging people to contact their family through an email, just to let them know they're okay. The theme of missing persons week is 'talk, please don't walk'.
Safe and well
ZAC Phillips' family were finally able to relax on Saturday, when he was found safe and sound.
The 13-year-old went missing late on Wednesday, thought to possibly be heading to Queensland, with no money and just the clothes on his back.
Police were concerned for his safety, but he was located at Nambucca Heads on Saturday.