The naked tree

In my last blog entry I posted a lot of pictures of “Michaela’s tree,” with years and years of ribbons hanging from it. Then later that day I got this text message from a friend of Michaela’s. I was shocked to see this tree standing there with every trace of all the love we had poured out to Michaela stripped from it. I have to tell you, I am really grateful to Michaela’s friend for sending me this photo, because if I’d first seen this in person I am not sure what I would have done.

Another friend was able to solve the mystery of what happened to the ribbons because she knows the new owner of the store. She was told that a car had hit the tree recently and had damaged it, and that the people who were hired to clean up the damage to the tree just cleaned up the whole tree. I find it hard to believe they could not have worked around the ribbons, but so be it. As I mentioned in facebook posts on this subject, I had a missing flyer and a yellow ribbon tied around the telephone pole by my mailbox, and my neighbor ended up taking it down. He didn’t know it was about my daughter and apologized when he found out, but I still had to wonder about it. It was obviously a poster about a missing child. It had obviously been put there by someone for some reason. Why would he take it upon himself to take it down? But on the other hand, my own family eventually removed the bedraggled yellow ribbons from my front porch.

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I guess to most of the world the old, worn, tattered and faded ribbons are not beautiful. The fresh, pretty ribbons are fine, but once they are dirty and old they think they are an eyesore. That’s not what I see, though. What I see is my heart. What I see is Michaela’s suffering. What I see is hope, which is frayed around the edges also, and far from attractive after having been carried around for so.darn.long. When I cut the ribbons to hang from Michaela’s tree, I always pulled it out and cut them to the length of my spread arms, so they were long, so that rather than being little bows sitting on the branch, they hung down. I did it this way because it turned the scrubby evergreen into a weeping willow. The ribbons fell like tears. They felt like I feel much of the time. They were an expression of sadness, they were a covering, a shelter. They whipped in the wind and storms, and fell again in their sad vigil.

It is what it is, however. The representation of the many, many years are gone, and there is nothing but to start fresh. Already a few ribbons have been hung. I will hang some myself in the next few weeks. And if you happen to live in the area and would like to take ribbons and hang them on the tree, I would be really grateful. They don’t have to be yellow. In recent years I have hung mostly yellow, but added in a lot of other colors as well. Among my fading hope is the one that Michaela can see this visual representation of the fact that we have never stopped thinking about her, loving her, missing her, wanting her back. I hope also that those who know what happened to Michaela may be confronted by the devastation they left behind and will be moved to end this endless waiting and watching.

I am continuing to go over plans in my head for the anniversary. I have decided that what I want to do is have a remembrance on the afternoon of Sunday, November 18th, in an indoor location, preferably a church but perhaps a hall. I want speakers, and music, and prayer and meditation, for Michaela, but honestly for all the sorrow and suffering, because I happen to know that among those who come to these events there are many whose hearts ache over their own losses, or who toss at night over their fears. As I have said many times, Michaela was a light in the world when she was here, and I believe she continues to be a light. As her light reaches others, warms them, helps show their way, gives them hope or faith, it dispels the meaningless horror. It gives purpose to Michaela’s life, to Michaela’s suffering. I would like us to come together at that time to remember Michaela in the very best way, and that is by allowing her love and light to wind itself around us, and allowing it to heal some of our wounds. Or at the very least, letting it show us that we are not alone.

And hopefully Michaela will know, somehow, wherever she is, will know that she is not alone.

On Monday, November 19th, the actual anniversary, I will go as usual to the market and hang ribbons on the tree. Anyone is welcome to attend one or both events, or to hang ribbons on the tree at any time.

As a side note, my friend said the owner of the market said that Michaela’s tree is actually going to have to be uprooted and pulled out at some point, due to problems with its root system. He has kindly offered to put in some sort of a permanent memorial to Michaela in its place. I don’t think that this is going to happen before November, though.

Thank you all for your ongoing support. Thank you to those who are already helping me look for a place, coming up with ideas. I truly hope this will be a meaningful time, a time when we can come together and experience the depth and breadth of love, that which lifts, and that which breaks us down.

And Michaela, if you are out there somewhere, just know that you are loved, and as long as I have breath, you will not be forgotten.

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5 thoughts on “The naked tree

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  1. I am happy to hear that the new owner seems supportive and is interested in putting up a memorial. My father lives a few blocks away and I visit the tree when I head back to see him. I am sorry that the tree has problems and will be removed. Perhaps they will allow you to keep some of the wood and something beautiful can be created from it? I have had friends and family that have done this with old trees. All my love.

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  2. dear, Sharon
    I wish I lived in the area so I could put some ribbons up for your sweet Michaela. thank goodness for cameras and pictures, I’m glad you took pictures of the tree from past anniversaries with all the old ribbons on it. I wonder why they had to remove the ribbons it seems like the tree is not that badly broken it looks fine. I visited the kidnapping site last July couldn’t hold my tears back, it was so beautiful I could feel your love for Michaela.I hope Michaela has seen it if she is out there if not her than who ever took her I wonder if they have seen the pictures or physically been to the site and seen the tree.

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  3. SO much love to you, Sharon! Your beautiful words always deeply touch my heart. Your beautiful soul shines so brightly even in the darkness of this huge, awful thing you have lived with for so excruciatingly long.

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  4. honestly anyone would see that the ribbons on the tree were very important to someone. whoever did it has no heart. the story sounds super fishy to me.

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  5. I love beautiful, worn, and well-loved things. I thought the tree was beautiful with all the ribbons on it. I’m so glad there are more ribbons going up.Your plans for the anniversary sound lovely. I live very far away, but I’ll be there in my heart and soul and offering love and hugs for you, your family, everyone there, and especially Michaela. Her strength and beauty is reflected in your love and life. Prayers, peace, love, and hugs for you all.

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