When I was searching for a name, a brand if you will, someone advised that I consider who I essentially am. Once faced with that question, it took seconds to come up with Seeker’s Road. I am on a journey, and on that journey I am seeking … something. This is reflected even in my dreams. Every night I am traveling, not on long journeys but short legs in themselves, through cities and amusement parks, across bridges and around bays, usually accompanied by people I don’t know. I never know where I am going, but I am going somewhere, concerned about the ways I take, and whether I have the wherewithal to get to my destination.
There are many areas in which I am searching, but just to seal the deal, just to make sure I understood this as an essential part of my nature, life gave me one heartbreaking and seemingly unending search, and that is for my daughter.
Michaela was kidnapped at the age of nine, on November 19, 1988. She had gone with her best friend to the neighborhood market and they had left their scooters outside the door when they went in. When they came out, one of the scooters was missing. Michaela spotted it first, in the parking lot, behind the fifth parking space down from the door. It wasn’t the scooter she had ridden to the market, but because she saw it first she went to get it. When she bent to pick it up, a man jumped out of the car next to it, grabbed her from behind, and threw her screaming into his car. As Michaela screamed, her friend Trina turned and witnessed the abduction. “He looked right at me, but he didn’t see me,” she later said of the kidnapper. “He had fox eyes.” Trina watched as the old beat up sedan the kidnapper was driving almost failed to start, but then the engine caught, and he drove out the back driveway, circled the parking lot, and onto the busy highway that is Mission Boulevard, away with Michaela.
In spite of an immediate police response and a massive investigation, Michaela has never been found. Who the man was, where he went, and what happened to Michaela are all questions that remain unanswered going on three decades later. But for all this time, we have never stopped looking, reaching out to Michaela. The police investigation has waxed and waned, has alternatively involved us or kept us at bay. Right now I don’t know what is going on there to tell you the truth. I know that there are budget constraints and other crimes that require endless investigation. I saw a post from the Hayward PD Facebook page the other day about this sting they set up to catch a bunch of men who responded to an ad for prostitutes. And I have to say WHY? There is a little girl who is still missing, a kidnapper who may still be at large and endangering others, and insufficient resources to devote to finding her. But there are resources for stings to apprehend johns?
It’s the way it is, I know. The problem with the investigation is that is is just so huge. There have been thousands upon thousands of leads called in. There are several of them that sound so good, you know that just has to be the answer. It would be impossible for things to line up so perfectly and it not be the answer. But there are several of these scenarios just that I know about. Which to pick? Which road to go down and beat to its very, very farthest end? Into which story should the investigating agencies pour their limited resources? I understand these things. And then I don’t.
As for me, well I understand that it is most likely my daughter is not alive. Part of me has preferred this option to tell the truth. I can’t bear the thought of Michaela having spent all these years suffering. I’d much rather she was in a better place, loved, at peace. In the not very distant past I have received a number of leads suggesting that she might have ended up in a trafficking situation in the United Arab Emirates. One of these emails kindly (read sarcasm here) detailed what she would have suffered in this situation. It was awful. But honestly this is one of the scenarios in which I could most easily see Michaela not reaching out for help or coming home. In the early years she probably would not have been able to overcome the language and technological differences in order to be able to just pick up a phone and call home. Along the way she probably would have had children, and in middle eastern country the children are property of the father. She would not have been able to take her children with her if she managed to escape, and I now that I would never choose my freedom over staying with my own children. And then eventually, as one of the informants put it, “She is changed too much to remember.”
I don’t cling to the idea of Michaela being alive, but this is what I believe: if she is alive she still needs me, and for that reason I have tried to keep reaching out to her. I have kept a blog dedicated to her, www.dearmichaela.com, have written her letters and have reassured her that we still love her, have tried to keep her up on what is going on with her family so she would be able to visualize what she would be coming home to, so she would feel a part of the family if she is ever able to see my blog. Some people have seen fit to question this, to tell me I am deluded. Why they would take time out of their day to do this I don’t know, but I assure you I am not deluded. If Michaela is not alive, then me reaching out to her isn’t going to hurt anybody or anything. The worst it can do is bring some attention to the matter of missing children in general. But if she should happen to be alive, she is undoubtedly in a bad situation, and she needs me. For me to abandon her because of the statistical probability that she is no longer alive would be tragic.
And anyway, this is my road in life. This is my task: to seek. I seek God, and I seek Michaela. I seek peace and understanding and the answers to how we can love in the horrendous storm of hurt. I seek my purpose in this life. It’s not for me to stop seeking, and especially not my daughter. Especially not my daughter. There doesn’t always seem to be anything to be done, or even anything to say, but even in the silence I am calling to her.
Michaela, I love you. I will see you again.