|Michaela with little brother and sister, Alex and Libby.
Someone sent me an e-mail recently saying she was going to spend the next three months searching for Michaela. Well, I didn’t quite know what to make of this, since lay people really don’t have the resources or information necessary to search for Michaela, and professionals who are working on the case generally go through the police department rather than me, and don’t post blogs about it. She went on over the course of a couple of e-mails to explain that she was going to try to identify Michaela as one of the unidentified deceased.
Now I will admit that I myself am friends with a page on facebook that posts nothing but pictures of unidentified deceased, and I looked at those damn pictures for a long time, feeling that it was somehow my duty to do so. And on the subject of unidentified deceased, I first of all want to say that I don’t understand how it could be possible that Michaela could be among the unidentified. Her fingerprints, her DNA, and her dental records have been in the hands of the investigators from day one … or at least day three or four. I have given cheek swabs for mitochondrial DNA in more recent years. Is all this not in a database that is regularly checked if any unidentified deceased persons come up missing? Michaela is listed in the NCIS database and has been since the beginning, and is listed with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. I have to tell you that if she should turn up as one of the unidentified deceased in this country, I’m going to be one pissed off mom. Such a state of affairs should absolutely never exist in this country, and if it’s even possible that it does then some changes need to be made. NOW.
Personally, I consider it a very real possibility that Michaela could have been taken to another country. So what about the unidentified deceased all around the world? Is anybody checking them?
Well, yes, I do think about these things. How could I not? The person who wrote to me told me that she knew that I believed that Michaela is still alive and she hoped she did not offend me. It is not actually true that I believe Michaela is still alive. I do believe that there is as good a possibility that she is alive as that she is not, and I also believe that until it is proven that she is not alive, the only correct thing to do, the only loving thing to do, is to behave in every way as though I believe she is, because if that is the case then she needs our help. She needs my help. She needs me to never give up on her.
If she is not alive … well, I don’t know. It is true that if her remains are out there somewhere, unidentified, that I want to identify them. I don’t want to know this, don’t want to hear this is true, but I know exactly where I stand on this from the time that our police department was digging up the Garrido’s back yard in the areas where the cadaver dogs and ground radar had indicated a body could possibly be found. I felt that I had to be there while this was happening, because if they happened to find Michaela, if the light of day were to fall on Michaela for the first time in decades, even if it were only here skeletal remains, I wanted to be there. If this were to happen, what I wanted to do was to gather her little bones into my arms and hold her.
I apologize if I have made anybody cry here, but if it makes you feel any better I have made my own self cry pretty hard as well.
I know I’d never have been able to do that. The Hayward Police Department went out of their way to be kind and caring toward me, but I wouldn’t have been allowed to contaminate evidence, and if Michaela’s remains were to see the light of day for the first time in years, we wouldn’t know that for however long it would take to run those dental records or whatever they would need to confirm her identity. But this was how I felt at the time. And I can tell you also that when they confirmed to me that they had not found Michaela buried in any of those holes, I did not feel any disappointment that the case has not been resolved. I just felt a sense of overwhelming relief.
Nevertheless, I know that the important thing is the learn the truth, whatever it is. If Michaela is not alive, me believing that she is will not raise her from the dead. Nothing I can do is going to change the truth of what happened to her. As I have said many times, whatever Michaela endured experiencing, I can endure hearing, whether I like it or not. The category of things I might like disappeared on November 19, 1988, at 10:15 in the morning, at the exact time that this man kidnapped her.
What Michaela Said
If you’ve read this blog in its entirety, or watched every interview I’ve ever done, you’ve heard this before, but about a week before Michaela was kidnapped, she wrote a poem. She’d been awakened in the dawn hours, she said, by noises coming from our attic, where were being made, she said, by people who had been kidnapped and were being held captive up there … “you know,” she continued, “like the people in The Peanut Butter Solution.” This was a children’s movie about an artist who kidnapped people and held them captive, applying a peanut butter solution to their hair, which made it grow unnaturally fast. He’d then cut off their hair and use it to make magic paintbrushes, with which he could paint pictures that came to life so that you could actually walk into them.
When I got up at 5 or 6, I found Michaela sitting at the coffee table with a piece of paper in front of her. She told me she’d written a poem about these people in the attic and asked if I’d like to read it. It was the most extraordinary poem, particularly coming from a nine-year old girl! It went …
The people knock on doors of steel
The people knock, the people kneel
They think of things that aren’t real
Outside the doors of steel
The people walk, the people know
That outside those doors, the people know
The people think that you may say
The people think that they, too may
They lack the confidence you have
They think it’s real, the dreams you have
The dreams they feel
One of the striking things about this whole experience is that Michaela seemed to be so totally peaceful and relaxed around it. If Michaela woke up in the middle of the night while it was still dark, she’d be far more likely to be scared and come to my room than to go sit by herself in the living room. But she was so calm that morning, no fear at all in her. Of course, it was an astounding poem to have been written by a nine-year old, but while I was amazingly proud, I was also just a little concerned. So over the course of the next week, I continued to ask her about it. One day I asked her, “Michaela, are you behind the doors of steel?”
She’d smiled a little indulgent smile, like mom is so silly, and so peacefully answered, “No, I’m not.”
But one week later to the day, she did become one of the people who had been kidnapped, and I have really had no choice but to believe that this episode in those early morning hours was somehow a premonition, and that this poem somehow contains a key to what happened to her. And if it does, it clearly says that she was not killed. She was held captive. I know this is not incontrovertible evidence. It would never hold up in a court of law. But it does seem to be a message that Michaela left.
There is much, so much, that I could discuss here, that has to do with destiny, fate, why bad things happen to good people, the meaning of it all, but this blog is getting long enough as it is, so I will leave that for another day. There is so much here whose meaning I don’t understand, the reference to the dreams. What dreams? I don’t know. Could it be the collective dream that says that children who have been missing longer than 72 hours are no longer alive? If the world dreams this, these children even while living become dead to the world. We cannot allow that to happen.
Whatever happened on that day almost 23 years ago, and in the days, weeks, months and years since then, I cannot change it. I probably cannot fix it. But I have to try. I just want to have the chance to hold my daughter again, my baby girl.