Monday, July 6, 2015

Words and feelings

It is 6:30 in the morning on my day off work, and I am here, awake. I have a lot of feelings inside me and I am sitting here with tears in my throat and in my eyes, longing just to be able to write my feelings down and push them off into the world. Like the words from the Anna Nalick song, "2 a.m. and I'm still awake, writing a song. If I get it all down on paper it's no longer inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to." But maybe I just really don't have the courage. One day I swear I am going to write my novel so I can say all the things I cannot say, turn loose all the feelings inside of me.

Half of the feelings I feel are vapors in the wind anyway. As I sat here at my desk, I watched a cloud outside my window. For a moment it was the stunningly clear face of a pitbull terrier. But in seconds it morphed, first into a kitty, and then on to several indistinct stages on its way to becoming the blank cloudbank that it is at this moment. And that happens so often with problems. You have a dagger in the heart, but then it dissolves and is gone, unless you happened to put it into writing or other communication where it becomes immortalized, or kind of. For me, writing and getting things out is cathartic, but the problem is that when you get things outside yourself sometimes they take up residence in others, and become things totally other, and totally beyond your control at all. Things that are minor can come to define you.

The other thing about writing is that often it helps me to figure out just exactly what it is that is hurting. Like right now. The immediate cause of my distress is that my daughter, who is 18 weeks pregnant, was experiencing anxiety this morning at 4-something. I woke up. Presumably she has gone to sleep and I am still awake. This anxiety, this problem, will probably dissolve when the winds shift. But in me it stirs something far deeper. Whether large or small, my child is suffering, and I am powerless to alleviate the suffering. I can, and do, talk my head off in an attempt to fix things, but honestly sometimes I know that just makes it worse. That's the other dangerous thing about words. For some reason the same words can mean completely different things to other people. She is anxious, so in an attempt to alleviate the anxiety, I employ the analytical mode, trying to explain why the problem is not quite as bad as it feels, and/or how to avoid problems in the future. This works well for me, but my daughter is in emotional mode, and she absorbs those words completely differently, internalizes them as criticism, which they are not intended to be.

Emotions. Sometimes you just have to get control of them. I remember in the second year after Michaela was kidnapped, I just felt angry, and it finally dawned on me that my anger was nothing more than sorrow that I had turned inside out and thrown outside myself because that was easier than feeling the sorrow. That was a big thing. But the same thing happens with the little things. We feel pierced by that dagger, which would probably dissolve in a minute, an hour, a day, unless we let that sorrow become anger and let it out into the world where it will inevitably cause more hurt. I personally have counted the cost and decided it is not worth it. That means I end up with a lot of feelings that get bottled up inside. Perhaps I need to find another means to transform and express them, through something more positive than getting angry. There are a lot of things that never ever get resolved, because I don't speak of them. In the end I guess I don't trust that they would get resolved if I did.

This child, the one whose anxiety woke me in the early hours today, was born five years after Michaela was kidnapped. One of my strong memories is from when she was a little baby, and she was crying. I picked her up and held her and said, "It's okay. Mommy is here. Mommy will take care of you." I was reassuring her from my heart with every intention of making everything right, of keeping her safe and protected and not letting anything hurt her. But in that moment I was flooded with the knowledge of the truth, that this was a lie. It was a promise I could not make. I had said the same sort of thing to Michaela, but in the end I had not been able to protect her. She suffered the most brutal fear, grief and pain, and there was not a single goddamned frickin thing I was able to do to prevent that, or to save her from it once she was in its clutches. I completely and totally failed her.

And I have completely and totally failed all my children. It hasn't been as dramatic as it has been with Michaela. The daggers that have pierced them have been the kind that mostly dissolve in time. But they have all suffered grief and sorrow, and there is not anything I can do about it. I have made midnight trips to the grocery store for chocolate, taken them for manicures, sat and listened, hugged and cried. But the only way I could actually have prevented my children from being hurt was if I had taught them not to love. Jobs, money, those things all can cause stress, but only love can pierce the heart, and it can pierce deep and hard and leave shards that don't ever completely go away. I know, because I have them myself.

My daughter and her husband, they are happy and excited about the baby they are having. But they have feelings inside them that perhaps they don't even understand. Do they understand the huge vulnerability they are being drawn into? They are both smart kids, and they are both very self-aware, smart, imaginative and creative, so maybe they do. Or maybe it is just a vague sense of unease. I know that as they have thought about their child, they have been drawn to look back on their own childhoods. In doing so, they have encountered the things that hurt them. They think, they hope, that these things will be different for their child, that their son won't encounter the cruelty of other kids, for example. But somewhere deep inside, as they consider their own hurts, they may be coming to realize that those things are going to hurt even more if they happen to their child than they did when they happened to them. I looked it up this morning, that quote that I just kind of know. I discovered it has a source, author Elizabeth Stone. It is, "Making the decision to have a child -- it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."

Well, I guess I am kind of placing my own thing into other people's minds here. I think it is valid to a point. But really it's my own point. For me, it is magnified, because it triggers that deep sorrow of not being able to save Michaela from suffering. But the fact is, I can't save any of my children. I can't make any of them happy. I can't protect any of them from hurt. I can just hope that they have the emotional wisdom to live well.

To you, Michaela, I just want to say that am so sorry that I was not able to protect you from harm, that I was not able to save you. Wherever you have been, whatever you have been through, I just hope that you have been able to feel always that love that is beyond life and death, there in your heart, forever.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

In case you were wondering....

We were finally able to complete the testing for the young lady who thought she might be Michaela, and she is not. I'm sure you figured that if she was you'd have heard it on the news, but I just wanted to let everybody know.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Ramblings from my heating pad

Sorry I have not written in awhile. As I mentioned previously, there are some things going on in Michaela's case that I can't talk about until they are wrapped up, and for me it is often easier to say nothing in these times. But this morning I am stuck to my couch with a heating pad due to a presumed pulled muscle in my lower back. And because I seem to have a kind of a contrary nature, the state of having to sit on my couch with a heating pad instead of doing something is making me frustrated. If I had to do something, I'd be wishing I could sit on my couch. Having to sit on my couch I feel bored, whereas if I had to do something I'd be wishing I could have the time to sit and write, or read, or catch up on some series on Netflix.

So anyway.

As far the investigation goes, awhile back, after the episode with the bone from the Linden well, I told our detective that I just didn't want to know what was going on in the case, that once they had wrapped something up they could tell me about it, and what they did or didn't find, but that I didn't want a blow by blow of what was happening. Those three months that I spent waiting for a DNA identification to be performed on that bone were soul destroying. Even though I had spent the previous 24 years living with all the questions and possibilities you have with a missing child, spending three months holding my breath, waiting for identification on a bone, was torture. I was planning memorial services in my head ... or more accurately, I was fretting over them with no plans whatsoever. But even more, I was wondering how I would be able to pick up the pieces and go on with life afterwards. Even now, a couple of years later, just writing those words brings tears to my eyes.

But I think I am more ready now, if That Answer comes. There are certain other things converging, almost like a perfect storm, and I acknowledge that life simply will not go on like normal if I receive That Answer. For awhile it will stop. It will change. But nevertheless, investigations on 26 year old cases tend to move with the speed of molasses. There are so many current fires to be quenched, and if this case has waited for this long it can wait a day, a week, a month, three months, right? Well, yes it can. And that is all well and good as long as I am not aware of it. When I am, however, I think it would be good for those who are stirring the molasses to trade places with me mentally. And yet, I concede the timing to God. There are some things yet to happen perhaps, before I am ready to receive the answers.

This is my grandson, a close-up of his face at 15 weeks.
He has his left hand resting on his chin and his right hand
behind his head. I am in love with this little face.
New life is coming into my family this year ... into my home, in fact. My daughter is having a baby in early December. This is not my first time being a grandmother, but there are a lot of firsts about it. My oldest son made me a grandmother, but I think it is a little different when it's your daughter. Daughters just share more of their interior lives, at least in my experience. And my son lives far away, while Johnna lives with me, so I am always available for that sharing. Plus she is young. She is 21, not a teenager or anything, but still she faces challenges from being a young mother.

Johnna's husband, Kane, is doing a "Baby Daddy Podcast" with his own father (Baby Daddy Podcast on Itunes). Coincidentally, David had Kane when he was the exact same age that Kane will be when this baby is born. David recognized that there are unique challenges to being a father at age 20, and decided to do this podcast with his son as a way of brokering the conversations on these difficulties, and sharing with others in this position. Honestly it has done a lot to simply revolutionize the ideas of all those people whose response to the news of the pregnancy was some variation of oh-i'm-sorry, as is indicated in some of the comments on the various websites. (Baby Daddy PodcastBaby Daddy Podcast on Facebook) If you choose to listen to this podcast, just be prepared for honesty. And also know that I dearly love this young man and that he is an exceptional human being.

From the very start, I encouraged Johnna to start a blog about her experiences as a young mother. Of course I think it's very therapeutic to write and share your feelings, but ... well, being pregnant at 21 can be kind of lonely as you have to grow up overnight, while everyone else stays the same. In blogging, vlogging or podcasting, there is the possibility of reaching out to others in the same position and making contact, and then perhaps everyone is a little less lonely. I have hopes this will happen eventually, in some format.

Just a week ago we got to see the baby on ultrasound. We found out that he is a little boy, and we got to watch him move. His little hands seem enamored with his face right now ("oh, what is this? a cheek? a mouth? my skin is so soft!") I have a 3-D ultrasound picture of that little face, and I have to say I am enamored with that face also. I don't see an alien or a lizard creature as some like to characterize it. I see a lovely little face, and I personally think he looks like his dad.  :)

But anyway, I get to be a part of this wonderful unfolding of a new life, and it is beautiful and it is scary, and it makes us sigh with happiness and yet it also makes (me anyway) weep with the fearsomeness of love. Watching my daughter form these bonds of love with her husband and her child I am ... well, I am just deeply touched.

Life affirms life. Love affirms love.

So what else? One of the more recent things that has been going on in Michaela's case is that there is a young woman I asked investigators to check to make sure she is not Michaela. Now you have to understand, this young woman is quite a bit older than Michaela. Her eye color is hazel and not blue. She was raised in a family and was not a victim of the kind of things human trafficking victims are. She has no memories of me, or of our family, but she does have memories of another life, another family. She remembers not being interested in boys until fourth grade, so she remembers that time, but fourth grade is when Michaela was kidnapped and she doesn't remember anybody from Michaela's life. So you might ask me why have her tested, and this is a good question, but there was just enough mystery that I told the investigators that I would feel better with a definitive answer. And for various reasons, this has dragged out just long enough to become torture for me, because this young woman wanted me to form a bond with her, and I have refused, and refused, and refused again. There is, after all, no real world evidence that she is my daughter, and I just don't have the emotional wherewithal to open myself up to that kind of relationship with someone on that basis. I just cannot. And in my heart, it feels as though it would be dishonoring to Michaela to even think of filling her place with someone who is not her. And this has made the young woman unhappy, has made her say that she is not going to get tested, that she is "withdrawing from the situation," because if I was actually her mother I wouldn't have rejected her. And honestly, she is probably exactly right about that. If there were any real inkling that she was my daughter, I would have jumped in with both feet, and I acknowledge that. And yet because I don't know I have to leave it open, and I have to insist on somehow someday some way getting a final answer. So in the meantime she accuses me over my refusal to bond with her and ends with, "But what if I really am your Michaela?"

But this episode also has prepared me to be better able to accept the truth, if it is That Answer. Living as the mother of a missing child is a special kind of torture, like walking through a life where people keep planting mines on the path in front of you. It is a place of particular vulnerability that forces you to take protective measures, and I am so weary of it. So just ever loving weary.

Well, I wandered from my heating pad for a bit so I'm going back now. Thanks for visiting with me!

And Michaela, wherever you are, there is one place you will never leave, and that is my heart. I love you forever, baby girl.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Trying to be happy

I really work at being happy. I know that there are no benefits to being unhappy. It doesn't alleviate any of our problems, certainly doesn't make us feel better, and doesn't make the people around us feel better either. I think that God has sent a number of people into my life who are unhappy for one reason or another, at this time or at that time. This has been kind of a blessing, because there is nothing like looking into the mirror of another's soul to help us see ourselves. I don't like people to be unhappy, especially people I care about, so I have a tendency to go around trying to prop them up, to make them feel better. I make myself be cheerful in order to cheer others as much as myself.

But honestly, there are a lot of little cracks that run through my heart, and it takes only the tiniest of blows to make it start aching and leaking sorrow. And sometimes ... well, sometimes I just feel lost.

That's all I have to say. Nothing profound or wise. I do have a lot of happy things in my life, and I appreciate them immensely, but happiness is often delicate, and I guess I just want to say that I would really appreciate it if life would stop tapping on my heart in unpleasant ways and just support my efforts to be happy.

Is that too much to ask? Maybe. But I'm going to work at it nonetheless, because it is good for those I love.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Weddings and Babies, oh my!

Well, I guess I can now talk about some of what has been going on lately that has kept me so busy. This past week, my youngest daughter was married in Ashland, Oregon. It was a very small wedding, only the closest of family (and not all of those were able to make it to another state for the occasion), and each of their best friends, but it was really beautiful. I enjoyed it immensely, just as I enjoy my daughter and her husband. I think they have a ridiculously romantic relationship. They had actually met before, the two ships who kept passing in the night, brushing against each other occasionally. But it was in Ashland, at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, that they started the fall into love a little over three years ago. So it was to Ashland that they returned for their wedding, on their third anniversary.

A couple of months ago, they found out that they were going to have a baby. This was quite the surprise. They were very responsible, so much so that it just makes me feel that this baby was meant to be, since it took such a confluence of events and failures for it to happen ... and being the believer in fate and divine guidance that I am. They had been talking about marriage for awhile. In fact, Kane was planning to propose to Johnna this year, on their three-year anniversary. But things got moved up a little because they wanted to be married before the baby comes, so instead they got married that day.

Being young, married, and soon to be parents, the course of their lives is changed, but I believe that will be for the better. I think these two have something to accomplish together in this world, and already things are flowing together to support that.

And, well, I just love them. Of course I love my daughter, but I also really love her husband, Kane, and I am so happy to have him as my son-in-law. He is an exceptional young man, and honestly I have no doubt that they will make it for the long haul, because they just have what it takes to do that. Honest to God, forever after love, no matter what.

And that's all I have to say on this. More next week, on Michaela.

Thank you to all those who have hung in there with me for your love and support.

And to Michaela, I love you forever.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

sorry it has been awhile...

I apologize, because I know I haven't written in awhile. There has been a lot going on lately, a lot of family things and also a couple of things in Michaela's case, and I can't talk about any of it right now. Anybody who knows me knows that it is extremely difficult for me to not talk about things, and so for right now it's easier to just keep quiet. I promise a blog late next week, and perhaps another the week after.

Michaela, if you are out there reading this, I just want you to know that my silence does not mean you are forgotten. In my mind, in my heart, you are always very present.

I love you forever, baby girl.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Video for Michaela

This is a beautiful film clip. I found it on the Missing Persons of America website, which was forwarded to me by Nigel Keyes, who wrote the music. It honestly brought me to tears.

A lot has been happening at home lately, Michaela. Your baby brother, Robbie, who hasn't been a baby for quite awhile now, became engaged and moved from our home into his own home. I had an astounding realization recently, which is that if you have children, they could actually be adults or near adults now. It's not impossible that you could be a grandmother now....

All I know is that looking at this video, at your beautiful and innocent little face, it just breaks my heart that such innocence could have been betrayed by someone who thought they had the right to steal you away from your family and your life. 

I love you, Michaela, so much that it hurts. Please, I beg you, if you can't come home, contact me. My heart just aches for you.