Thursday, January 29, 2015


This is for Michaela, and for anyone else who is in need of help of any kind. If you can't get help directly, think creatively, like this woman did!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Happy Birthday, Michaela

Today, Michaela, is your birthday. I was just sitting here praying for you, and I was praying that wherever you are that God would put his arms around you and hold you ... and that brought to my mind the saddest picture ... of you alive somewhere, knowing it is your birthday, feeling like nobody cares. And I prayed that wherever you are, God would allow you to feel my arms around you, to let you feel my love.

Do you think that you are forgotten? You are not. On this day, for the last 26 years, I have remembered you in various ways, but I have never forgotten you. I have never forgotten the gift that I received on this day 36 years ago. I have written before in these many blogs about this, but never, ever doubt Michaela, that I am glad you were born. I rejoice in you. The gift you were to me then, and honestly the gift you continue to be to me now. Even on the darkest roads I have walked in my grief, you are a shining light in my heart. My love for you is great and huge, overcoming any attacks with its power. So for me, there would be no other choice. I would always choose to have you, to know your softness, your sweetness, to hold you and feel your heart beat against mine, a heart that was purely kind.

For you, Michaela, for your sake, the story might have been different. If I had been told, before you were born, how YOU would suffer in this lifetime, it is most likely I would have sacrificed my own joy for your sake. I would have chosen to spare you that, even if it meant I would never get to hold you, even if it meant that I would walk through this life without your light in my heart. It always comes back to that, Michaela. Every last little bit of my own suffering is tied in with your suffering. It is impossible for me to separate my own grief at missing you from my overwhelming grief over what you have had to endure, what you may still be enduring.

But I didn't know the suffering life would hold for you, and on the one hand I am so sorry I didn't ... but on the other hand ... well, my friend Margo introduced me to this song not long after you were kidnapped, and it has always stuck with me.
Holding you, I held everything.
For a moment, wasn't I a king
If I'd only known how the king would fall
Hey whose to say, I might have changed it all
I'm glad I didn't know
the way it all would end, the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance.
I could have missed the pain,
but I'd have had to miss the dance.

If you are on this earth, if I knew where you were, I would come to you.You are 36 years old today, actually two years older than I was when I lost you. What years we have missed sharing. And yet I can tell you that between that age and the age I am now, entire epics have been lived. There is so much yet that we can share. There is so much ever loving, pure joy to be shared! There is so much love. And your family! I wish you could meet Libby. She has grown up to be so kind, and so gracious. Whenever I had to go to social events where I might feel awkward, I would try to take Libby, because she has such a gift for making people feel at ease, for making people smile. She went and moved to Oregon, so now I can't do that, but she would come back for you! She and Johnna would both love to take you shopping! And wouldn't you like to go to Disneyland?

If you are alive on this earth somewhere, just know that you are so everlastingly dearly loved! On your birthday and every single day, you are loved, you are remembered, you are cherished. And if you are not on this earth ... well, I know you are in good company, and I will see you again one fine day.

I just want to end with this video that was made for you for the anniversary of your kidnapping in 2009. A simple little video, it has had almost 80,000 view. For you my sweet child. I love you forever ... mom

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

For those who grieve at Christmas

Michaela's First Christmas 1979
ornament on our tree, 2014
Today is Christmas Eve, and there are a number of people on my heart today who I know who have lost a loved one and who have a particularly difficult time at this season. Although this is completely natural, I just want to offer a different point of view. For me, the one thing that really bothers me about the idea of dying is the grief those I love would suffer. I could probably die fairly peacefully if I knew that everybody I love would be fine, if I knew they would be cared for, loved, held, that they would laugh and grow and be gloriously happy. Any parent out there undoubtedly understands exactly what I am talking about.

But if you are a parent who has lost a child, as so many of us are, do you not understand that your children love you as well, that they want that exact same thing for you that you would want for them? I know you sometimes feel guilty during those moments when you experience happiness, when you laugh, when the lights flicker on again for just a moment. You feel as though you are doing a disservice to your child when you do that, don't you? But you are wrong, completely and totally wrong. The disservice you do to your child is when you refuse to allow yourself to be happy. I just want to reach out to you on your child's behalf, touch your heart and tell you to smile. Each and every day find something to smile about. Laugh. And if you are trying to comfort someone who is grieving, there are probably only three things you can do ... listen, hug tightly and deeply, and make them laugh. Laughter heals the heart.

Your child does not want you to grieve. Your mother or father who has passed does not want you to grieve. Your husband, wife, partner, friend, sister, brother ... none of them want you to grieve. They want what all of us want for those we love. They want you to be happy.

I honestly manage to do this to the very best of my ability. Believe me, I know that it is not always easy to be happy in life, even when you haven't suffered a traumatic loss. Often, it's just a choice you have to make. This is a little more complicated for me ... actually a lot more complicated ... because I don't  have the sure knowledge that my daughter is at peace somewhere. I have to continually worry that she is still suffering somewhere. But even so, it would not do her any good at all if I allowed the darkness to swallow me. Nor would it do my other children any good. And are our other children not every bit as valuable as the ones we lost? Yes, of course they are. They also need us to be whole, and happy, and for us to be able to love them.

As always, my final word is to Michaela. This also is what I want for you, and nothing else, for you to be happy. If I knew you were happy wherever you are, I would be content. I am the mother, and you are the child, and my heart is wholly for your happiness and well-being above all else, and certainly above mine. However, the peace of mind that would come from knowing that you are okay, if you are, would be worth the world. On the other hand, if you are not happy, I reach out my hand for you to lead you back to where you can, perhaps, find that.

This is my 27th Christmas without you now, Michaela. But every year your special ornament is on our tree. I love you forever, my sweet child.


Sunday, November 30, 2014


Michaela, one of the things waiting for you here at home is a pack of little dogs! We have Spikey, who is an 11-year old Miniature Pinscher, weighing in at 6.5 pounds. Then there are three other dogs we adopted from the animal shelter. Sophia is jet black, a chihuahua according to the shelter, although we are pretty sure she has some dachshund in her, and Zelda is Sophie's baby, a honey blonde chihuahua mix, who was found wandering the streets with her mom when she was still quite little.

After we adopted Sophie and Zelda, your youngest sister Johnna went to work as a volunteer at the shelter, and that ended up bringing the fourth member into our little pack. Zero is a blonde whippet/chihuahua mix. Johnna mentioned him when he was first brought to the shelter. She was charmed by him, and by the way he folded his long, long legs up inside himself when he was picked up. Time went by, though, and Zero (then called Kashi by the shelter) did not get adopted. After four months Johnna mentioned him again. Extended periods of time in the shelter take their toll on a dog emotionally, and, well, dogs don't stay forever waiting for a home. So that was it for me. We brought him home.

Zero has his problems. When we first got him, if he was sitting with you when you opened a can of soda, he was off like a shot across the room in fear.  Firecrackers or other loud noises make him curl into a ball and tremble in fear. Shaking out a trash bag does this also, and sometimes just the sight of a person holding a book and walking across the room will make him quiver in fear. He has some odd scars on the inside of his rear legs, and when I took him to dog training classes, he was unable to use the standard choke collar. Instead we had to use a harness. The trainer said it was likely he had been choked at some point and had sustained damage to his trachea.

Zero (with Zelda to the left)
Sometimes when Zero is afraid I will sit and hold him, and I will tell him that he is loved and he is safe. I look into his beautiful little face and I picture the happy, innocent puppy he was, and I cannot understand how anybody could take that joy and innocence from him. I tell him how much I wish he had always been my dog, and how sorry I am that he had ever been hurt. And I just hold him some more. We have had him for almost nine months now, and he still has his quirks and his fears, but you can open a soda while you are holding him now anyway. He knows who loves him, and he loves in return. At night he likes to lay across me when we sleep, and somehow it makes us both feel safe.

I realized recently, Michaela, that he reminds me of you, that if you are alive somewhere that it is most likely that you have suffered untold abuse. I see you often in my mind as the little girl you were, so innocent, and I am so absolutely furious that anybody thought they had a right to take that innocence from you. You were my little girl, to love and hold and protect. But what's done is done, and I know that it is unlikely that you would have survived the last 26 years without suffering essential damage to your heart and mind.

The thing I want you to know, Michaela, is that I don't just envision you as the little girl you were. I envision you as the adult woman that you are. And I don't just see your innocence. I see your wounds, your fears, your hurt, and I not only fully accept you not for who you were but for whoever you are today.  It is that person that I long for, that grown up woman that I long to hold and love, and pray that all the love waiting for you will help to heal all the hurts you have suffered.

I just want you to know that I love you, Michaela, forever and always, wherever you are, wherever you have been, whatever you have done, whatever has been done to you. I love you, and I just want to hold you and tell you not to be afraid, that you are safe, that you are loved.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

I am thankful for Michaela

Today is Thanksgiving, Michaela, and I just want to tell you that I am so thankful for you. Before you were born, I spent five years longing for you. Sometimes I look back on those years of infertility, and it feels as though God was saying to me, "Are you sure you want to do this? A high price will have to be paid, and it will hurt like hell." But I did. I wanted you more than I wanted anything in the world, and I forged ahead, pushed God aside, and with the help of my doctor and a prescription for fertility pills, finally you were here. Finally I held you in my arms.

And I loved you, little girl. I loved you until my heart felt like it could burst. When you were a baby, I held you, I rocked you, I fastened you with a Snugli to me when I shopped, and when I did chores, so we were pressed together, our hearts beating as one. As you grew I watched you, and I was so proud of you. You grew into great beauty, and so smart, in the gifted and talented education program at school, and so creative, writing and drawing, and singing. But most of all you were nice, so very, very nice. However many little brothers and sisters the Lord sent into our lives, you always had your own place in my heart. My first child, you are the one who built the house in my heart and you have your own room there and always, always will.

People have asked if I would chosen to have you, if I had known what was going to happen. That is a hard question. For you, for your sake ... well, I may have chosen not to have you rather than to let you suffer. But for my sake, I would never give you up. For your sake I would go through it all again and again and again. I would do it for the joy of your presence, for the sweetness of loving you. But I would choose it even considering what happened, for the vast, unexplainable richness you add to my life even in the dark labyrinth of grief, sorrow, fear and hope that has been my life for these last 26 years. You transformed me at the moment of your birth. In your loss, you continue to transform me on a daily basis, and to enrich my life beyond measure. And while really bringing up your presence in my heart is liable to set me to screaming and wailing about the horrible unfairness of it all, your presence is still warm and sweet and solid. I can still feel you in my arms.

So on this Thanksgiving Day, the 27th I have spent since you were stolen away, I am thankful for you, Michaela. And I am thankful for you wherever you are, whatever you have endured, whoever you are right now, today, on this day. I love you with a love that is beyond any boundaries of time or space or circumstance or explanation.

I love you forever, and forever, as long as I'm living, no matter what, you will be my baby girl. My arms ache to hold you, your grown up self. I can feel it even now, your heart to my heart, pressed together, beating out love, beating out healing for us both.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hugs for Michaela

Another anniversary is past, and Michaela what I am left with is one thing. I want to tell you how much love is waiting for you. Honestly, my sweet child, my sorrow was swallowed up by the love that was poured out, so much so that I began to feel a little bit guilty about enjoying it so much. But then I remembered, this love is for YOU, Michaela. Nobody was there because they think I'm adorable. They were there for YOU, and only because you weren't there to hug did I get the hugs. I wonder, where you are do you get hugs? They are the most wonderful, magical things, the best medicine in the world. They literally reach into the hurting places in your heart and push the broken pieces back together again.

Michaela, I know some of these things might scare you, so I promise that if you come home if you don't want to see anybody, you don't have to. If you don't want to be touched, nobody will touch you. But I want you to know what it is here, waiting for you, all this love, all this healing from the fear, the grief, the loneliness of the past 26 years. I myself want nothing more than to wrap my arms around
Michaela, this is your baby brother Robbie, and your
sisters, Johnna and Ariel, who you have never met,
and to the right, Libby. And me. 
you and hold you and just love you.

It rained this year on the anniversary. That was the first time it has rained on November 19th in all the years we have been doing this, but just a gentle rain. Today the rain came down harder, creating small rivers for awhile in the streets. I remember in the days after you were kidnapped the rains came pouring down, in violent storms, like the skies were weeping for you.

Well, for now Michaela, I am sending you a virtual hug, reaching across time and space, and just a few photos from November 19, 2014.

Love you forever, baby girl.

Robbie hung some ribbons high on the tree.
I cut most of the ribbons long. To me, it reminds me
of weeping. Our tears for you.
Michaela, do you remember your friend Isa?
She came to the anniversary, and
brought her little daughter.

Ribbons. And my car. I call it my little road warrior.
It is waiting to take you wherever you want to go!
Ribbons from years past.
Time may fade them but they hang strong.
Like our hope.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dateline interview: Hope and Fear, and Getting Through

I came across this clip this morning. Someone mentioned Dateline and I brought up the show they did on Michaela previously. They did an excellent job, with interviews with Michaela's friend who witnessed the kidnapping, and the detective. But watching this clip took me back to one of the most difficult times of my life. This was when, after 20+ years of plowing through, during the investigation into the Garridos. Amazingly, it has gotten only more difficult since then.  Michaela, however hard this has been for me, I know it has been harder for you. Remember, you are strong. You are beautiful. You are loved. You can be free. Pray for God to take your hand and lead you out.

Love you forever.

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