Spring has sprung here in Iowa. They say it’s nice to live in a place with four seasons, and here you can have all four of them in a couple of weeks. We actually had an early spring, and beautiful little flowers started growing in our yard. They were like hope. But then the snow returned, and they shriveled and died. Like hope.
I have been feeling pretty good lately. I have found tremendous peace, and even joy. There are times I felt like laughing, or dancing, for no good reason. I couldn’t tell you why this is. Living here is surely part of it. It is so much less stressful in my little rural town. And I look out my window, or sit on my deck, and I am healed by the greenness of the trees and grasses! It’s amazing.
But enough of that. Life is, and even when you find peace and joy, things come along. I have spent the last week having tests with my new doctors, and everyone seems to think I have cancer yet again. I just had the biopsy done yesterday, so I won’t find out for certain until next week, and maybe not even then. It is possible that it might need to be surgically removed to get a proper biopsy.
I’ve been kind of taking this in stride. I think about things like medical bills, and I think about how awful it would be if I had to do chemo in the time of covid. But how many times has RBG survived cancer?
You just do what you’ve got to do, one step at a time.
But then there are people. I just want to let you all know that living for almost 32 years with a missing child is enough in itself, but living for those 32 years with your grief laid out on a table for public viewing is, well, kind of hellish. To be sure, there are many wonderful, wonderful people out there. So many people who have come into my life because of Michaela, who have stayed and become true friends, with whom I share not just my missing child, but life. I consider them to be gifts to me from my daughter. But then there are always those who figure they have some sort of a right to poke through my guts and examine them, and even to judge them, deciding whether how I feel is okay. Am I allowed to be happy? And how about moving halfway across the country from Hayward? And I’m sorry, but nobody has the right to do that. You try spending 32 years not knowing what happened to your beloved child. You will experience every feeling there is, believe me. You will never, ever have the opportunity to go through all the stages of grief, so you will hold them all inside, cycling through, including denial and anger.
And the other thing I am not looking for is suggestions for how to solve the case. Nobody knows the details of the case except the investigators. I know more than most anybody, but I don’t know everything they know. I’ve had chatty investigators, but for the most part, they don’t tell the families everything that is going on, because it could compromise the investigation, and having been up and down the roller coaster of dashed hopes so many times over the years, I don’t want to know everything that is going on. Several years ago a bone fragment was found that some people decided might be Michaela’s. The investigators had to tell me because it was going public in the media, or they might not have. But because of that I had to spend three months of hell waiting for the DNA analysis. Don’t ask me why it took three months. There was a person not working on the case who decided to take charge of it and did it badly. But at any rate, I spent all those very many days planning a memorial service in my head, and wondering how on earth I would survive, literally, if it turned out to be Michaela. It wasn’t. I’d got through a couple of decades by then, but this incident pushed me clear over the edge. I started taking antidepressants for the first time right after that.
But a lot of good people have worked on this case over the years, and they have worked very hard, and you know what? It’s just rude to suggest that we look in junk yards for the car Michaela was kidnapped in. We don’t know what the car actually looked like. We have just a vague description. But do you think the police did not look in junk yards? Do you think they did not look through yearbooks? And recently someone wanted to argue endlessly with me over whether or not we should do an age progression of the composite sketch of the kidnapper! The answer is no. We don’t even use age progressions of Michaela, even though we have her actual likeness and the aged photos of her parents and siblings to work with, because they just are not accurate and they waste investigator’s very valuable time with calls from people who saw someone who looked vaguely like the progression, which itself looks like nobody at all.
Nor are we looking for leads from the general public. The leads we are looking for are from people who know. The people who know have known for 32 years or close to it, and they may have even called in the information. If they haven’t, I hope they will. But they know what they know, and do as they choose with it. Lord knows they have witnessed enough of the grief it has caused over the years. But as I’ve said so often, the major problem with this case has not been a lack of information. It has been an excess of information, which has not allowed the investigators time to sift through it all. I believe that the answer to what happened to Michaela may well be in the files at the Hayward Police Department. The police department has spent years inputting those leads into a computer database so they can be cross checked. But if the answer is not in those files, that means the person or persons who knew the answers did not choose to reveal them. But no guesswork is going to solve the case, and nobody is going to recognize Michaela walking down the street.
And here is another thing. I am an actual real live person. I am Michaela’s mother, but I am also a mother to five other children and five grandchildren. Most mothers will know that your children’s joys are your joys, but you feel deeply all their sorrows and difficulties, too. That’s a lot of children with life experiences I have shared and felt deeply, and you know life is not easy for any of us. I have lost my mother in the ensuing years, after helping her through a years long battle with emphysema. I have even had dogs I have watched suffer and die, and it has broken my heart. I worked as an immigration paralegal for years, fighting for immigrant families, sometimes celebrating the joy of our joint victory, and sometimes grieving injustices. I have had to figure out how to make ends meet during hard times. I have fought Stage IIIC breast cancer, and I may be entering into a new fight with that or some other form of cancer again. I struggle constantly with questions of faith, have an endless curiosity about things, a deep deep sense of justice and injustice and compassion for those in need and in pain.
So this is what I am NOT looking for: your judgments. Really, how dare you?
I have spent the shelter in place of this time of covid in the good company of my husband, my daughter, my son and his wife, and two grandchildren, as well as my dogs, who are always ready with love and affection. I have honestly considered giving up all internet presence, social media and this website, because this peace has been so so sweet after the years of anything but peace. A few seasons ago, I was suffering from passive suicidal ideation. I wasn’t going to kill myself, but I didn’t particularly want to be here. That was also the year of the 30th anniversary of Michaela’s kidnapping, which was a beautiful thing, but also very hard on me. And here I find myself now, gleefully joyful and peaceful, and I just really wanted to crawl into it and stay there, where I don’t have to see that there are people in the world who don’t care. But there are a lot of people on social media I dearly love. I’ve been chipping away at the things that disturb me, though. I have been Marie Kondo-ing my facebook. If someone robs me of my joy, I unfollow, delete, or block, depending on what measure is necessary. I just recently deleted some comments from blogs on this site that I decided should never have been left in the first place. Seriously, why would you want to come here and argue with me about my daughter’s case? I mean, comment if you have to, but ARGUE? Do you not think I have enough grief and troubles?
I’m going to stay here for now. I might even spruce up this website, update things, and write more blogs. But because I am an actual human being with so many thoughts and feelings, most of what I write will not be about Michaela’s case. Almost everything I write will be about Michaela herself, in one way or another, because she is the person most singly responsible for making me who I am today. She transformed me into a mother and taught me the fearful depths of real love that you cannot fall out of, and then taught me its true meaning through her loss. She is the one who ultimately brought me out of myself and made me realize that this life is not all about me. It’s not even all about Michaela. It’s not all about any individual. It is about how we impact each other, how we can help each other along the journeys we are undertaking in this life. And that purpose is not temporal. It is eternal.
If you want to be a part of that, a part of the journey up and down the length and breadth of this seeker’s road, then welcome. If you want to be a web sleuth or a true crime aficionado, this just may not be the place for you, and Michaela not the subject for you to pursue, because you just don’t have the information.
So, to all who have brought so much love and joy to my life, thank you.
And to Michaela, if you are still out there, you are in my heart always. If you are in this world, I have a truly beautiful, peaceful place for you to come home to, and even with all your family members who are living here, I have room for you, and joy in abundance. Please call Hayward Police Department at 1-800-222-3999, and they will guide your way.
I love you forever, baby girl.