Okay, in response to your requests, I am posting something. And first, let me say how very much I appreciate all of you who have asked, and how much I appreciate those of you who keep coming here to check when I have been absent. (Although if you check around you can usually find some new comments here and there by my wonderful readers, and some from me as well.)
I actually wrote a blog last week and never posted it. I am sure this is completely stupid, but the reason I haven’t posted in so long is because … well, it’s been a season of happiness in life, and I am finding that to be ridiculously difficult to write about. There are a whole lot of reasons for this, but I am not going to get into them. It is what it is.
The photograph above is of my youngest daughter, Johnna. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time will know that she was born during the memorial service for Polly Klaas, which was five years after Michaela was kidnapped. We’d had the memorial service on in the labor and delivery suite, and at the end of the service the station we were watching broadcast photographs of other children who were still missing in the Bay Area. Literally just as Johnna was being born, I looked up into the corner of the room, and there was Michaela smiling down at me. There is not anybody who is going to tell me that there was no significance to this astounding synchronicity.
The fact is that this little girl challenged my heart from the beginning. She forced my heart to open itself up fully for the first time since I’d lost Michaela, and while it was wonderful and beautiful, it also just hurt like hell. Nor was it only me that felt that pain. Johnna felt it also, and it affected her deeply during her early years. I can’t begin to explain it, what psychological or spiritual factors may have been at work, but it was there, and it was a lot to work through, for both of us, but primarily for her because she was so young and didn’t understand.
Yet somehow that little girl has grown into a beautiful young woman, inside and out — all the more so, I think, because of the challenges in childhood. She wandered through some dark places of the heart while growing up, but she has a depth of character I doubt she would have had if it weren’t for that, and even more, she has learned to create light. She is graduating from high school this week and will be delivering the commencement address. I am going to try to record it and if I am successful I will post it here, but at the least I will post the text. Part of her message is that going through difficulties makes you stronger.
You might recall also that a couple of months ago she was enduring her first broken heart. It had been her first love, and the relationship had lasted almost two and a half years, so it wasn’t just your little teenage crush and disappointment. Keep in mind also where she was coming from, that feeling of loss and grief that had haunted her even before she was born. She was devastated. But she was incredible. She picked herself up and she got on with life, and with a really, really, good life, with friends, and laughter, and lots of fun. I was so proud of her, and so happy (and relieved) to see this strength in her. It’s been a couple of months, and there is a new boy now, not the first boy to come along either, but someone she really likes, and she is genuinely happy.
And it all just makes me happy, the excitement, the honors, the love, the smile on my daughter’s face.
In the weeks after Michaela was kidnapped, there were a group of people who would come to my house every day and carry on the recovery efforts from my dining room table. They were some wonderful people. Let me just tell you that the best gift you can bring to someone who is grieving is laughter. I saw this with my daughter and her friends as she was getting over her heartbreak, and the same was true for me after I lost Michaela. Those people would come to my house and they would make me laugh. I did honestly feel guilty about it — Michaela had not died, she hadn’t “gone to a better place.” She was missing, and could be alive, and if she was she was far from laughter. How could I laugh if my daughter was suffering?
But honestly, I couldn’t have survived and been any good to anybody if I hadn’t been able to do that. And I do have other children, and I cannot love them any less, and I cannot take any less total enjoyment in each and every one of them because of the one I lost. I feel their heartaches and I feel their joys, I cry with them, and I absolutely rejoice for them. If I didn’t, it wouldn’t be fair to my other children, and it wouldn’t make me the kind of mother that Michaela would want to come home to.
So that’s where I’ve been, while I haven’t been writing. I am okay. The investigators are still at work, but there is no news to share, and as you know that’s generally the case. I assure you that if ever Michaela is found, I will be sure to fill you in.
And Michaela, if you are out there and you are reading this, just know that there is a place for you to come home to, and it is a good place, where you can be happy.
And I love you forever,
p.s. Perhaps this will be for another blog, another day … but I know many people who read my blog suffer from their own griefs. There are many different types of grief, and some griefs never really go away. But you can still be happy. You can bring your own light to the darkness that surrounds you. If you take away anything from this blog, let it be this.