I will write more later, and update you on the anniversary from my point of view. But for the moment I don’t have the words in me. So instead I would like to offer some words from two other people. The first are from Michaela’s friend who was with her that morning. The second were written by Michaela’s sister, Libby, who was three years old when she was kidnapped. She wrote this several years ago, but I came across them this morning and my heart was touched.
And thank you, to everyone for remembering Michaela.
From Trina, Michaela’s friend:
“Tonight involved going on my annual pilgrimage through memories of November 19, 1988. I’ve discussed it up and down, sideways and backwards with Andy…perhaps searching for meaning, or just rambling and coping…giving into tears, at times. Tomorrow marks 28 years since my friend, Michaela Garecht, was kidnapped. We read and updated the Wikipedia page about her. This year I pulled out my copy of the initial eyewitness police report, complete with my 9-year old handwritten name. I always end this yearly journey breathing slowly and deeply, now that I’ve emptied myself out…quiet because I’m unsure that anything I say really matters anyway…resigning myself to the fact that what is, is. May Michaela be remembered this Saturday and always. Perhaps this is the year we will have answers, or, perhaps I will be typing something very similar in exactly one year. Nevertheless, if you want to go on this journey with me, pray for peace for Michaela, her family and friends, and for my family, as well. It has been a shaping force in our lives, and Michaela and this event deserve remembrance.”
And from my daughter, Libby:
“Driving home today I missed the turn for the freeway and decided to take Mission Blvd home. Sometimes, when I drive past Mexico Super and I’m not in a hurry to get anywhere I pull over to sit in my car in front of the tree that marks where Michaela was kidnapped all those years ago. The place that she last got the luxury of being just another normal child. I look at the faded and withered ribbons we’ve tied there over the years. I sit and I think about Michaela… The sister I never really got to know, but whom I love with all my heart… as if she’s been here all along. Tonight I decided to stop and was drawn out of the car, surprised to find a laminated poster tied to the tree… as well as some artificial flowers, a wooden cross necklace and rosary beads. The flowers still a bright yellow… Unlike the ribbons we tied there last November, which the weather had taken it’s toll on. Someone had obviously gone out of their way to do this on their own. Honestly, my first reaction was to think that it was a little weird. Not that someone did something nice for Michaela… That happens regularly enough. People have tied ribbons for her all over the world. People have gone as far as to make customized rubber bracelets for her… But they e-mail my mom, leave her Facebook messages, post on her blog to tell her about their ways of honoring Michaela… We don’t just stumble across them. But after the initial surprise wore off, I didn’t think it was weird at all. I was just so incredibly touched that I ended up crying the rest of the way home. I listened to Lady Antebellum “I Was Here,” which I’ve posted many times on my Facebook page because it makes me think of Michaela. The chorus especially:
I wanna do something that mattersSay something differentSomething that sets the whole world on its earWanna do something betterWith the time I’ve been givenI wanna tryTo touch a few hearts in this lifeAnd leave nothing less than something that saysI was here
I don’t know how to express my gratitude for those people out there, who don’t know my family, who did not know Michaela, but who keep her memory alive. Who fight to make sure she is never forgotten. Who help to let the world know that she was here. Who go out of their way to do something nice like this without getting anything in return, going on nearly 24 years after her abduction. She HAS touched the hearts of so many and it’s things like this that remind me of that. We WILL remember you Michaela. You have left behind a legacy that will never be forgotten.”
Michaela, wherever else you are, you are in my heart. I can feel you in every heartbeat, sometimes as a smile, sometimes a sob, something a lightness and joy, sometimes the deepest heaviness. But I love you today and always, and however it may have seemed, you have never been alone. You may be lost, hidden, but you will never be abandoned.
I love you forever, my sweet child.