Well, this has been a week from hell, without a doubt. As the 25th anniversary of Michaela’s kidnapping approached, I wanted nothing more than to climb into bed and pull the covers over my head. I just wanted to curl up in solitude and feel my sadness. On the morning of the anniversary, it almost seemed possible I would get my wish, as I was so sick I really didn’t know if I would be able to make it to the market. But I was laying on the couch with the TV on, and as the early morning news programs came on they started announcing that Michaela’s family and friends would commemorate the 25th anniversary of her kidnapping at 10 a.m. So I dragged myself out of bed and started getting ready.
I had not notified any of the media, and yet when I pulled into the parking lot they were all there. In fact, they had lined up a row of microphones in front of the tree with yellow ribbons, as if it was a press conference. I know there are a lot of people who consider media to be evil, and might see this as an intrusion, but as much as I didn’t really feel up to it, I was grateful that they were there. The fact is that the media is the best friend of anybody with a missing loved one. They are able to spread the word far and wide, and that’s what I do, try to spread the word far and wide. There were also a lot of people who came to the anniversary, many of whom had been there from the beginning, out combing the hills looking for Michaela, many we knew and loved, and many we didn’t know but who knew of Michaela and loved her.
|Michaela’s sisters tying on new ribbons over the old.
The tree was covered with ragged yellow ribbons from last year, and possibly the year before. We left them there, as symbols of the long road we have traveled in our search for Michaela, and of the fact that our spirits may grow ragged but will not stop searching for Michaela as long as she is missing.
It has been a difficult week also because of some of the communications I have received. A commenter on another blog about missing children chastised me for believing that Michaela was still alive, said I needed to
accept the fact that she is dead and get on with life. Well, I have very much gotten on with life, but that doesn’t mean I need to leave Michaela in the dust of
|My ribbon, with a message to
Michaela written on it
the past. That will never, ever happen. That will not happen even if I find out that she is not alive. I have a friend whose 17-year old daughter was killed years ago in a car accident, and she keeps her daughter alive still. I met her through facebook, where her profile and profile picture bear the image of her daughter.
This is something we do, those of us who have lost our children. We keep them alive in the world by keeping their memories alive. My children, most of whom were too young to actually remember Michaela, or not even born yet, all know her as their sister, as part of the family. As far as the rest of the world goes, well the fact is that Michaela carried a light. She was here in this world for a purpose, I know, to shine that light and teach the world something. I’m not sure what exactly, but as long as she is not here I will hold her light so it will reach out to the world. And those who need it will be touched by it. There was a young woman at the anniversary, this year and last year, who had previously had an abduction experience of her own. She managed to escape and she is okay, but she said that during the time she was going through that nightmare, she kept thinking of Michaela, holding her in her mind, and that helped her to survive. Others also have been helped or strengthened in various ways by Michaela.
The entry on the other blog said that I believe that Michaela is still alive. This is not technically correct. The one thing with the news is that they only ever quote a teensy part of what you say. What I believe is that she could be alive.
|This is me tying my ribbon on, with my
daughter Johnna and my son Robbie
been enough long missing people found in recent years that nobody can argue that point. And if she is alive, she needs me to keep reaching out to her, to keep the world reaching out to her, because she needs my help, our help. Another person commented on that blog post about the girls in Ohio, and how the families of two of the girls continued to hold annual remembrances for them, but one family didn’t. The girls and their kidnapper saw these remembrances, and saw the lack off remembrance for the third girl, Michelle. And he used that to torment her, “See, nobody cares about you.” How devastating! I would never want that to happen to Michaela. So I will continue to hold her out there, for the world to see, for her to see if she is looking.
|Lt Chris Orrey and Inspector
Rob Lampkin, Hayward PD,
and dear friends
I have also heard this week from a couple of very well known sources who wanted to help. One is an internationally well known astrologer whose acquaintance I made years ago. She contacted me, wanting to know if I still had the charts she had done. I didn’t, and so she did some more. She hasn’t completed the report, but preliminarily she said that she didn’t think that Michaela was still alive. She was reluctant to say this, because she said she didn’t want to crush my hopes. So I explained the things I said above, that I’m well aware of it as a possibility. There are other questions to be answered even if that is true, and I mean questions other than who did it and where is she. So we will see. The other was from a very famous psychic, one who at least one friend had been pestering about Michaela for a couple of years now, but she said she wanted to do a written report if I would like. I still haven’t received it. I don’t know, but I’m guessing that she saw things she didn’t want to tell me.
|John Spahn, the boy who was in the
original photo of Michaela in
the blue sweatshirt
I’ve also received literally hundreds of emails and messages on social media this week. There was a posts put up on Facebook, which seems to have gone viral. The post contained the age progression of Michaela. At this point, it’s not unreasonable to believe that if you have blonde hair and blue eyes, you have been reported to me as possibly being Michaela. I have received photographs of some of the most beautiful women, smiling and happy with their families. I only wish those could be pictures of Michaela. Honestly most of them don’t look all that much like the age progression, and the age progression in turn doesn’t look all that much like Michaela. I really, really appreciate the fact that people have been touched by Michaela enough to want to find her, and to help us find her. It means the world to me. Unfortunately, we don’t use the age progressions in the investigation, because of their inaccuracy, and because investigative time and resources could never be stretched to check out all the hundreds of people who have been referred to us. If you know somebody who you think looks like the composite, and who you think is suspicious somehow, ask them, “So how was your life before the age of 10?” We really could use an army of investigators on this case, but of course we can’t release most of the information that needs to be investigated because it is confidential and could potentially compromise the case, but this is something people can do if they want to help.
I’ve been exhausted, because I have actually tried to read all the messages I have received, and to answer most of them. It’s hard to convince kids these days that they should answer when spoken to (sorry, I’m thinking of my kids and their propensity for not answering text messages … one of my pet peeves!), but I was raised to believe that I was supposed to answer when spoken to. I was also taught that I was supposed to actually answer the question that was asked, although I have observed over the years, in presidential debates for example, that you don’t have to do that. I’ve learned when a reporter asks a question that doesn’t have an answer, I can just talk about something else! Anyway, I really need to learn to just say “thank you for the information” and leave it at that. Trying to discuss and explain is pretty exhausting and probably just ends up getting me in trouble.
Yesterday the week wound up with a few people getting really nasty with me in comments on this blog. I think I’ve gone through and deleted the worst offenders. It just isn’t necessary. But yes, I have found it really disturbing. One woman (whose comment was not published) suggested that if I needed to write a blog that I should do so anonymously, and if I had to maintain one for Michaela that perhaps I should get someone else to do it. I’m still kind of astounded by all this. The purpose of this blog isn’t to get my feelings off my chest. It is to reach out to Michaela. That isn’t something that could be done anonymously. I agree, perhaps I should bring the comments here under control, although on the one hand I have been criticized for allowing the comments, and on the other had have had some pretty vicious attacks from people when I have not allowed their comments. I’m a person here, people, not a PR firm. I actually enjoy comments from readers and the conversations I am able to have with them, and I intend to continue that as much as I can, but I guess I will just have to live with the frustration of people whose comments I decide not to publish.
This has impacted me personally, though. In the last week, between being sick, having the anniversary, and trying to deal with hundreds of new messages, I have managed to get behind on everything from laundry to my writing. If I am going to finish NaNoWriMo on time, I have to write another 17,000+ words in the next six days … and Thanksgiving, cooking, and company are all on the schedule for that time also. I do feel I need to meet the challenge of NaNoWriMo, because I think it is the only way I will ever get this thing finished. I sit and write and keep thinking, “this is awful,” and I know that my usual thing would be to stop writing, rip it up and throw it away and try to start over again, and never, ever get anything finished. As it is, this NaNoWriMo challenge just keeps me moving forward. Maybe it will be awful. I know it will need a lot of work. But I have some people who will read it and tell me what is good, what is bad, what needs more, what needs less, and hopefully after some hard work it will be something good.
So this morning I really need to start writing, but all these nasty messages from yesterday have me doubting myself, making it hard to start. This book is fiction, but it is based on Michaela. I have believed that I had something of value to say, a message of healing, a message of continuing to be open to life and love even when faced with the knowledge of its dangers. Now I am questioning myself and the very roots of my writing. Honestly and truthfully, I don’t believe those people, but I’m already feeling vulnerable right now, so it has had at least a momentary negative impact.
But I’m going to end this blog and move on to working on my book for awhile.
Love you, Michaela, forever.
Every night I leave the kitchen light on for you,
to symbolically help you find your way home.
Every day I try to hold that inner light you brought to the world up for everyone, to bring them love and hope and healing.
I apologize if sometimes I fall short, but I will continue to try.