November is flying by! Already the baby shower for my son and daughter-in-law is upon me, and trip number one by my daughter and her husband from Oregon! How will I ever get the house clean in time, and is it even possible to wrap this box? Then at the end of November is not only Thanksgiving, but the same weekend is my grandson’s second birthday. I have no idea still what Thanksgiving will look like this year. It’s one of the sad things in life that kids grow up, partner off, and suddenly they are part of other families for the holidays. I will admit, I have never been a big holiday person, and I am definitely not the best cook in the world, so I can understand this. But for some reason it still gives me a twinge of teariness. Then Theo’s birthday will be a lot of work, but a large part of that work is not mine. Probably I will spend more time watching my grandson while his parents do the work and spend the money. This is the good part, guys!
In between those things is That Day. November 19th, the day Michaela was kidnapped. It is on a Sunday this year. I haven’t been to church for a few weeks now, so I guess it won’t matter that I miss it that day to go to the market to hang ribbons on the tree for Michaela. Last year I “cancelled” the anniversary. I went myself and hung the ribbons, but I made it a private family event rather than a public event, because making it a public event had for some years made me feel like I was running a show, made me focus more on other people and taking care of them than my own feelings. What I really felt like doing was lying face down on the ground there, at the spot where she was kidnapped, and melting into it. This is something I feel often, actually, this wanting to lie on the ground. But I never do, because it is just such an awkward thing, so I carry it around in my body, this collapse, this melting.
This year, I am not going to “cancel” it, meaning that anybody who wishes to come is welcome to. At 10:00 on Sunday, November 19th, we will meet at Mexico Super Market in Hayward, on Mission Boulevard, across the street from Chapel of the Chimes, and we will tie yellow ribbons on the tree and spend a few minutes just sending our love to Michaela. I’m not going to give a speech, because honestly after 29 years (!) I have run out of words. There is nothing new to say. Just, “Thank you for caring about my daughter, for all this time, after all these years.” If you do come, if you could bring ribbons I would appreciate it, because ribbons are expensive and after spending a year fighting cancer I am depleted. I usually cut the ribbons long so they will hang from the branches, but you are welcome to do what you want. And they don’t have to be all yellow. And if you can’t come, if you could hang a yellow ribbons wherever you are, I would be grateful, and even more grateful if you could send a picture. My email address is email@example.com.
I actually love the month of November. I love the sound of its name. I love the crisp chill that sets in and finally stays. I love the family holidays, and now I love it because my grandson arrived in November, the day after Thanksgiving in fact. He came a whole week early just to brighten up the month and make our holidays more exciting. I love it this year because we are celebrating my newest granddaughter, who will arrive next month. But November’s full moon is traditionally known as the Mourning Moon, and that is what fills me. It exists alongside the joy. It brings an ache, but it brings a depth. It brings the moment Michaela was kidnapped, but it also brings her last moments of innocent freedom. What a dichotomy that is, with the former almost making the latter a lie, liar, pants on fire. My baby girl, MY baby. How could someone think they had the right to take her? And yet they did. November is life, the giving and the taking. November is love, its heights and its depths, the joy and the deep deep grief. It is the deepening darkness on either end of the days.
Twenty-nine years. Where is my baby girl? They may have been able to hide her, whoever took her, but they cannot make her disappear from this world. I will make certain of that. I thank all of you, from all over the world, who still remember Michaela, who still love her, who hold out hope for her or simply hold her in your hearts. Thank you.
Michaela, I love you forever.