Next Saturday, six days from today, it will mark 23 years since the day Michaela was kidnapped. As we have been doing for years now, we will be meeting at the spot where she was taken, to remember her. Any and all are welcome to attend, and if you can’t attend in person you are welcome to attend right where you are by hanging a yellow ribbon or a balloon for Michaela, and sending a photo to me at email@example.com.
It’s a simple remembrance. There is a little scrubby evergreen thing growing right next to the parking spot where the kidnapper’s car was parked. We generously call it a tree, and adorn it with yellow ribbons. You will see scraggly remnants of ribbons tied there over the years, although this year I understand that all the lower branches have been cut off, so we might have a bit of a challenge with the ribbons this year. I say a few words, and a few other people say a few words. This year I believe our wonderful and dedicated detective, Rob Lampkin, will speak, and I’m not sure who else. As long as it doesn’t rain my son Robbie will play his guitar and sing a song or two. It is a fairly brief, and in all honesty I am always left feeling that I should have done or said more, but what that might be I don’t know.
For some reason, I have been feeling a sense of anxiety over the anniversary this year. It comes up over and over again in my dreams. I have had dreams in which I have been suffering from a case of the emotional paralysis that has afflicted me recently, and I have not made it to the anniversary. Either it has gone on without me, or I have finally gotten around to being able to leave the house at 3 in the afternoon and have wondered if anybody would still be there (we hold it at 10 a.m., which is the time at which Michaela was kidnapped). I have had dreams in which a big bear was walking through the streets and I had to keep adjusting my route to avoid the blocks where the bear happened to be. I have had dreams in which other people were behaving quite inappropriately at the anniversary. I don’t know what this means. Probably I am always anxious about it. Maybe I just don’t usually remember my dreams. But anxiety or not, it will go on, and I will get there on time.
One of the best things about these anniversaries for me is the people who come. There are so many wonderful people who show up at this event. Often too many of them seem reluctant to take up my time, but if you come, please, please take up my time. I can stand there until I have spoken to the very last person. Some are people I have known for many years but rarely see, and some are people I have gotten to know because of Michaela. I have the photograph of a young girl featured in the sidebar on this blog, Tricia Seymour. She was killed in a car accident a few years ago. I have gotten to know her mother through Facebook. You may think that I am dedicated to keeping my missing daughter alive and remembered, but Chris’s dedication to keeping her daughter’s memory alive is a beautiful thing. She is always creating special photographs of Tricia and posting them, and she has created some for Michaela as well, including the one at the beginning of this blog. Last year she drove all the way from Southern California to attend the little, short remembrance for Michaela on her anniversary, and she is apparently doing so again this year.
It is just love, pure love, for this little girl (now a woman), my daughter, that I feel from all these people who come to this event year after year. This is what I long for, what I strive for. Even if she were to be found, even if I were to know that she was never going to come home, I would continue to talk about her, write about her. I would continue to remember her and to keep her alive in this world by keeping her memory alive. She is just such a special, special spirit. She was a gift to the world, and if she is not here to give that gift, then I will continue to give it for her. I will shine her light to the farthest corners it can reach.
Of course, there is one very special person I would really like to see attend the anniversary remembrance. Michaela, could you come? Even if you don’t want to introduce yourself, could you come and just see that we still love you, that we still miss you, that we still long for you to come home? I wonder, have you ever been by that market to see the remembrances that are always there for you, somewhere? In the weeks after you were kidnapped, the people in this area took your missing flyers and hung them from every surface. Driving down Mission Boulevard, every telephone poll had your face smiling down from it. It was a breathtaking, and I thought about you being rescued and coming home, and how you would be driven down those streets and would see this dramatic visible display of so much love being poured out for you, and I hoped that it would help bring healing to your heart. Even though that never happened, I always hoped that somehow you were able to see. I hoped that you would know that you were not ever abandoned.
And still, you are not abandoned.
If you cannot attend, I am going to try to post some videos here on this blog. We have taken some in the past, but they are generally really poor quality because we don’t have really good equipment or anything. We have some videos of Robbie singing, but his voice is overwhelmed by the trucks rolling down Mission Boulevard. Perhaps on a Saturday morning it will be a bit quieter. But we will try to record something to share with all of you who can’t be there, and especially with you, my sweet Michaela, if you are out there.
If you can attend, we will have a limited about of ribbons to tie on the trees. They are wide ribbons, and I am bringing some Sharpies, so you can write personal messages to Michaela on them. You can feel free to please bring your own ribbons, balloons, or flowers.
Here is a link to the Facebook event page, with the address and all other pertinent information:
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for reading this blog, and for remembering Michaela.