Before anything else, I want to tell you all that I love you, and I am so very grateful for the love and support you have poured out to my daughter for all these very, very many long, long years. I want to tell you how much I appreciate your encouragement to hold on, to keep believing. I want to thank you for all the times you have told me I am courageous, because I have kept looking for my missing child.
And now I want to let you down.
I have Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer. I have no idea how many years I have left on this earth. I hate to ever say this, because my family occasionally reads my blogs, and I don’t like to upset them. When I was first diagnosed, my husband said, “we have beat this before, and we will beat it again.” I should have just left it at that. I should not have told him that barring a miracle or a huge medical advance (both of which I believe in!), it can’t be beat. Right now, I’m still planning on living until I am at last 92, but the fact is that I’m three months into treatment, and I can feel my known tumor, and it is not shrinking. I hope for the best. I expect the best. But I know the facts. And never mind the cancer, this puts me at high risk for covid. I take nothing for granted.
I count every moment of my life as precious. I know the things that are important to me. My family. My spiritual development. My contributions to the world. Peace.
Once many years ago I had a dream that I was dying. I was laying on the top bunk of my daughters’ bunk beds for some reason, and I was saying goodbye to my husband and kids. “Well, I’m going to see Michaela now,” I told them. “I’ll see you in 30 years.” At that point I started being sucked up into the corner of the ceiling, and I woke up.
In the week I was diagnosed with Stage 4 MBC, I closed my eyes, and I saw the shore of the lake on which I’d been meeting Jesus during the scarier parts of my treatment, and standing there was my mother and Michaela. I was still walking on the lake. They seemed to be waiting for me, and I told them, I can’t come right now. I have things left that I need to do, people I have to take care of.
It has been a long time since I have believed Michaela is still alive. And if she is not, I don’t need for her to be found. Wherever her body may have rested for these years, it is only her body, only a temporary residence. Michaela’s true self, her spirit, left long ago, and has found peace and joy not possible here. I don’t need a ceremony. I don’t need a grave. I had a remembrance service for her on the 30th anniversary of her kidnapping, and that is as much as I need. In fact, that anniversary remembrance almost brought me to the breaking point. I have been broken enough over the years. I really don’t want to be broken again.
I know it’s possible that Michaela is still alive, and if she is, I welcome her home with all my heart. But all our efforts over all these years have not found her, and I don’t believe they will. She would have to find herself. But I the meantime, when people encourage me to keep hoping, to keep imagining her coming home, it honestly feels like a stab in the heart. I know that none of you can imagine how it has been. Even those who have had children missing a long time can’t, because there haven’t been too many cases that have stayed as active for as long as Michaela’s has. There have been so many roller coaster rides, so many hopes that were lifted high and dashed to the ground. I can only tell you that each time, it almost killed me.
Now, I can’t take any more near death experiences. They are too real. There have been times in the last few years when I have suffered from a passive suicidal ideation, just not wanting to be here. It was actually during those times that the cancer I have now was growing. Now I have to stay as strong as I can, because I want to live. I want to see many more seasons come and go in this beautiful place where I have come to live. I want to be able to find my place in this community. I want to be here for my kids if they need me. I want to watch my grandchildren grow, and perhaps to meet grandchildren yet to come. I want to live, and I cannot afford to fall off that cliff into darkness again.
While Michaela was here, I told her that if ever she was sad or afraid and I wasn’t there, all she had to do was to look in her heart, and she would find me there. Now I find her in my heart, and she gives me courage. Not long ago, the mother of another missing girl from the Bay Area passed away from cancer, and I thought how sad it was for her husband, but what a joyous occasion for her to be reunited with her daughter. People talked about Jonbenet’s mother dying without knowing what happened to her daughter, but at that point, she knew. And at that point, it just didn’t matter anymore.
To paraphrase David when his baby died, “I will go to her. But she will not return to me.”
It’s been 32 years. This is what I believe.
I intend to do my best to carry on holding Michaela’s light up in this world. I will continue to write about her. As I’ve said before, my purpose is not to solve her case. It is to remember her. It is to keep her alive in this world by keeping her alive in people’s memories. I hope you will join me in this as you have joined me in searching for all this time.
And to Michaela, wherever you are, I love you forever.