November is here once again, and another anniversary of Michaela’s kidnapping. Native Americans had names for the moon each month. Their name for November was “the mourning moon.”
This past year has been amazing. God has put a spotlight on Michaela, and it has brought renewed hope, but it has also been really difficult for me. Sorrow is like a huge, soggy lump, and it moves up and down between my stomach, my heart, and my throat. I can feel it like a physical presence. When it moves up into my throat, it usually pushes silent tears into my eyes.
I feel my grief over losing Michaela very keenly, but the events in the last few months have cast over me a shadow of Michaela’s suffering that I can’t shake. Recently the media, and commenters on my blog, have been talking about how Jaycee was reluctant to admit her true identity to authorities, that she defended Garrido. I’ve thought about this, from a parent’s point of view. How would I feel if Michaela did that? And you know, I hope that Michaela is out there somewhere, reading this blog, remembering her life before November 19, 1988, but unable to break free because of her attachment to her kidnapper. It would be wonderful if she had formed a bond with her kidnapper, because that would give her a degree of comfort. It would mean she is not suffering.
But I continue to be haunted by what she may have experienced in those early hours, days, weeks, months, years, after she was kidnapped. This is a shadow world, Michaela’s suffering, certain but unknown. I don’t know what she went through, but I know she was filled with fear, she was filled with grief, and I know that my own grief is a tiny pebble compared to the mountain of grief she faced. I still had my home, my friends, my children. She had nothing and no one. I have gone over and over the words of her poem, and I think of her alone, behind those doors of steel, real or symbolic, and how terrifying just that would be for her, totally apart from any of those other unimaginable things she might have had to endure.
This is so hard to live with. Perhaps Michaela is out there and is reluctant to make herself known because she, like Jaycee, does not want to see her captors jailed. If that is so … well, Michaela, if you are reading these words, I just beg you to dig down and remember, and to please, please have mercy on me. Is it wrong of me to say that I don’t care about the prosecution of the kidnappers, if it means having my daughter back? Well, I do care, but if it meant the difference between having Michaela and not having Michaela? I don’t know. But Michaela, if you are out there, please, please contact me. All my contact information is on your website, or just send a comment through this blog. The comments go to my private e-mail before they get published, so you can do it privately. You can do it anonymously even. But if you do, please include our family code word, so that I can know that it’s you. Give me information only you would know, just so I can know that it’s you, and that you are okay.
It has been a long time since I’ve written in this blog, and I’ve saved up so much to say, but now that I sit here it slips away. Well, first of all, I want to say that one of my readers wrote a blog about Michaela on her own site, and she said something about my heart being pure. And I just want to get this straight. My heart is so far from pure. It is purely sad, but that’s way different. I realized something recently. I’d never understood the practice of cutting — you know, where the kids cut themselves. But the other day I was watching some television show where terrible things were happening to these people, and I thought, “Well, I bet they aren’t worried about any of their other problems now.” And it dawned on me that this was exactly what cutting was about — that you cause yourself a specific kind of pain in order to distract yourself from what is really hurting you … or sometimes in order to feel at all, since the pain you have been suffering has numbed you. I realized that I have been doing my own variations of this for the last 20 years. For me, it’s been psychological cutting rather than physical, but I can see so often that I have created painful distractions for myself, simply because contemplating Michaela’s fate, and my own loss, is just too, too, too painful. How can you live with it? How can you continue to function with that sad, sad song playing in the background of your life 24 hours a day 7 days a week?
Well, I’m learning. Perhaps there has been enough time, perhaps enough distance — meaning that I can figure that the worst of Michaela’s suffering is over, and she has either adapted, or has gone on to another place where there is no suffering. Perhaps I have become strong enough, my faith has become strong enough, to be able to bear up under it. But this time, when it has fallen on me, I have been able to hold it, to hold my daughter’s suffering, my loss, and to feel it for what it is rather than trying to distract myself.
And speaking of my faith, people are always talking about how strong that is also. I just want to tell you all, it is not always so strong. Faith is like an ocean in which I swim, but sometimes I get thrown up on the beach and I sit there for awhile, drying out a bit, asking questions. But the depths call to me, and I plunge back in. I pray for the mind and heart of God, that his thoughts would be my thoughts, his desires would be my desires. I pray for answers and understanding, because I am intellectually driven. And I move forward on the path set out before me, even when it is dark. I know the light will come again.
I’ve been working on Missing Michaela, finally. I’ve been working on this book for fifteen years! My last re-write was a few years ago when I was stuck home with a broken ankle for a few weeks. It wasn’t sufficient because there have been questions answered since that time, so it has to be re-written. I’m more or less starting from scratch on this re-write, using only a small portion of what I have previously written. I’m perhaps touching deeper places, or they are touching me, because I find myself with a lump in my throat more often than not as I write, and almost every day I have to stop at some point because I break down in sobs. Anyway, I hope to have this book done within the next few months, and if anybody knows a publisher or agent who is interested, let me know! If not, I will publish it myself, like I did my child safety book, only I will try to learn a little more about distribution beforehand, because I’ve been doing a really terrible job with the child safety book. I am not a salesperson by any means. I couldn’t sell food to the starving. (Of course not! I’d give it to them!) But if I put these things out there, then hopefully at least they will get into the hands that need them.
When all this was going on with Jaycee and Michaela recently, I heard from an agent I’d spoken to years ago, and he said he’d alerted an editor at a New York publisher, told her to keep an eye on the story. Of course, I figured out that he thought we were going to find Michaela. We have seen that found children are Really Big News, and big sellers. Now there is nobody who wants to find Michaela more than I do, but not for the purposes of writing a book about it. Part of the significance of Missing Michaela is that I don’t know what has happened for my daughter. It is coping with those unanswered questions. It is, basically, how you keep walking down the path when all around you it is dark. It is a story of faith lost and restored. And ultimately, it addresses the questions of how we could possibly believe in a God who allows such terrible things to happen to children, of how we can believe in a God who doesn’t answer our prayers for them to be rescued, and beyond that, of how we can believe in God in a world where such terrible, horrible things happen every day.
Like death. Okay, this is a non sequitur perhaps, but I have to just say how much I HATE DEATH. One of my facebook friends had to have her little dog put to sleep this last week, and I just can’t tell you how much grief I felt over that. Well, I’m a doggy mama my self, so that’s part of it. But honestly, I can’t even kill bugs. I catch them and take them outside and let them go. When I close a window, if there is an insect caught between the screen and the window, I open the window and catch the insect and take it outside. I know that if it is trapped there it will probably die when the heat of the sun comes around in the afternoon, and here that poor thing is just hovering there at the window because it is trying to get free! How sad is that?
But as I said to my friend who had to have her dog put to sleep, this is the price we pay for love. Always, on some near or far day, we will lose those we love, or be lost to them. Once you fully recognize that, once you experience that, love is never again the same. It is deeper, richer, and incredibly valuable.
Well, I know everyone wants to know what is going on in the investigation. I want to make sure you all rest assured that it is being handled with intelligence and devotion and compassion by the Hayward Police Department, especially our detective Inspector Rob Lampkin, his Sergeant Steve Brown (who he says is the best boss he has ever had), and Lieutenant Chris Orrey. Rob Lampkin is the one whose job it is to find Michaela. He is just simply a very nice guy, and he is doing an excellent job with the investigation. He keeps me informed, which is something I am very grateful for, and something I think is a good idea, because I’ve been “working on” this case for twenty years myself, and sometimes I know things that are helpful. But of course you all know that I can’t give any details of the investigation because that would compromise its integrity, its possible success, and any possible prosecution.
As for Lieutenant Chris Orrey, I really don’t know her job on this besides talking to the media, but she is just the most incredible combination of strength and compassion — she just doesn’t hide her heart behind a bullet proof vest, you know? So for me personally, her job has been being such a support to me that I wasn’t so afraid of falling, if that makes sense. Now these are just the people that I know at Hayward PD. There are many others who work on the case, many others who care very deeply, many other compassionate and intelligent people there, both paid and volunteers. You know, the City of Hayward’s slogan is “The Heart of the Bay.” As far as I’m concerned, the Hayward PD has exemplified that.
But please don’t worry, because I don’t believe there are any stones that can be turned that aren’t being. It’s true that the investigators have run into some roadblocks in the investigation, in being allowed to interview suspects. Apparently a judge has issued an order that investigators can’t talk to Philip or Nancy Garrido. I think Philip might just be crazy enough to talk, but my hopes continue to be pinned on Nancy. I think that she is shedding that mantle of fear and persuasion Philip Garrido placed on her, and I believe that if she is able to help, she will. I still feel merciful toward this woman. I know a lot of you will want to write and tell me why I shouldn’t but just don’t bother.
I think that God is reaching out to Nancy, and before all is said and done I think her life will be used for good. Yes, I know what she did. But if you read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapter 5), Jesus says that if you are angry, you are subject to the judgment of murder, and if you look on a woman with lust, you are guilty of adultery. Now it is impossible for us to live without ever getting angry — and this is acknowledged elsewhere in the Bible. So clearly this passage is not telling us that this is how we have to live. Instead, it is simply pointing out that it is impossible for us to live without sin, and it points out that God considers things that we think fairly minor to be just as bad as things we think to be really serious.
So the point is, in God’s eyes, my sins, and your little sins, are equivalent to Nancy’s sins. But fortunately for us, God is merciful to all of us who will accept his mercy. And he is the judge, not us. As Matthew 7 says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. for in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” I know people will want to stretch this topic and say, “what about this and what about that?” Of course this is not applying to legal matters. It applies to our hearts. And I have to think of Philip Garrido, for whom I feel not an ounce of sympathy, not even a scintilla of loving energy. Nope. But God’s mercy is extended to those who will accept it, and his love to those who will receive it. My own personal opinion is that Philip started out evil, and ended up with a kind of a messiah complex. You can hardly bow before God when you think you are God. But I don’t know. All I do know is that God has stirred my heart for Nancy, and I think that’s because he is reaching out to her, and I think that is because he knows that she will open her heart to receive him. And I believe she will be a blessing to the world before it’s all said and done.
So if you disagree and want to make a comment, go ahead, and if you want me to reply then include your e-mail address and maybe I will, but I want to let you know right now that I don’t intend to get involved in a public debate here on Nancy Garrido or God’s mercy. It’s my blog. You can get your own blog.
Well, I guess I’ve said enough, probably way too much. I want to let you know that we will be remembering Michaela on the anniversary of her kidnapping, November 19th. It’s a simple little thing we do. We go to the market where she was kidnapped (now called Mexico Super, on the corner of Mission and Lafayette at the southernmost tip of Hayward, California). We go at 10:00, because the estimated time of her kidnapping was 10:15 a.m. We tie ribbons on the “tree” which grows next to the parking space where she was kidnapped, and say a little prayer. It is usually a pretty small group of people. But you are welcome to come if you can. And if you can’t, could you please hang a ribbon for Michaela? We usually use yellow, but one year we used peach colored ribbons. And if you hang a ribbon, could you please e-mail me a photo, at firstname.lastname@example.org?
Thank you everyone for all the love and support you have given me and Michaela in these past months. It means so much to me, and I pray Michaela can see it and feel it as well.