Saturday, June 11, 2016

This is going to stop

This last year has been difficult for me. Why, how, you don't need to know. Many have observed that I have written less on this blog than I once did. It's just been very difficult. 

Compounding the things going on in my own life and my own heart, is the nastiness that has begun to plague the comments on this blog. There are a lot of wonderful people out there whose support I really appreciate. But for some reason, Anonymous and other people (who could all actually be the same anonymous for all I know) have decided to start writing comments that sound like they are being nice and sympathetic, but which contain just enough nastiness, insult and innuendo to label them as unacceptable. I have printed them, I have responded to them, but this is over, my friends. 

Be forewarned that from here on out, if you want to make comments that contain any nastiness, they will be going directly into the trash. I am just not going to deal with this anymore. This website was not set up for the purpose of straightening me out. It is here for me to reach out to my missing child. That's it.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Sinking in the missingness


It has been awhile since I have been here, I know. It has just become so hard to bear anymore. Not you, Michaela. You would never be hard to bear. The other day, I was taking care of your little nephew, my grandson. He is six months old, and six month old babies can be a lot of work. His mom and dad have been busy lately with the theater program they work for, so I have been babysitting. They asked if it would be okay if they went out on a date one evening, or would that be too long to watch him. And you know, I looked in his face, and I thought, how could I ever say it would be too much, too long, to care for him. He is so innocent and helpless, I looked into his face and said, "No, nothing is too much for you. It is never too much time or too much effort to care for this innocent little baby I love so much. It is my privilege."

I feel that way about you, too, Michaela. Wherever you are, whatever you have been through. I could never stop loving you, could never say it's too much. What becomes too much is your missingness. I know that's not a word, but I have just coined it. What becomes too much is my utter helplessness in the face of your missingness. I can't find you. I don't know where to look. I can't make other people do what I think should be done to find you. I cannot help you.

Twenty-seven years, six months, 14 days at this point. All that time of all this helplessness in the face of the worst possible thing that could happen to me, that my child is suffering. And I can't help.

If you are out there, Michaela, and you can help me, please do. Please remove the missingness, remove the questions and the wondering and let me know where you are, and that you are okay. If you can't come home and don't want me to try, that's okay. If you don't want anyone else in the world to know, I won't tell. Tell me our family code word if you remember it. Tell me something only you and I would know. Tell me that you are alive, that you are okay. Tell me if you have children! Leave an anonymous comment here, or email me at missingmichaela@gmail.com.

Your missingness doesn't become easier to bear with time. It becomes harder. It reaches the point where I want to put my head under the bed covers and not come out, where I was to exist in the gray lands where I deny my feelings because they are too painful, where I kill of my imagination, because that is the easiest way to make sure it doesn't wander too far down the painful paths. If I can't help you, Michaela, can you please help me?

I love you forever,
mom

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Dear Anonymous

I don't know if you are one person, or several. I don't publish most of your comments anymore, but I let one slip through today on the post I wrote for Michaela's birthday. It seems you are accusing me of being bitter and telling me to stop the pity party?

You know, I'm going to admit to a deep and severe lack of self awareness when it comes to the myriad of feelings I have stemming from my daughter's kidnapping. I don't really think I am bitter, but I could be and I have just buried it so I can't see it, as I have with so many of my other feelings. On the other hand, if I was going to be bitter because somebody kidnapped my nine-year old daughter and in 27 years nobody has found her, or helped us find her, I think that would probably be understandable, and excusable. It might not be healthy for me, but I have a whole lot of feelings that I guarantee are not healthy for me.

Same with the pity party. You kind of make me want to hold a pity party, because you are so mean. Am I sad? Oh yes, I have sadness beyond my own fathoming. Honestly, my sadness and pity are more for my daughter than they are for me. Do you have children? When you have a baby you hold that innocent little thing, and look into her (or his) eyes, and your only desire is that those eyes would never, ever cloud over with sadness or pain, and that is a lifetime desire. I don't know what she has endured, but I do know that she endured sadness, grief, horrendous fear, and who knows what else. That she had to endure that will never, never, ever stop haunting my soul.

And, because I don't know that she is dead, it is entirely possible that she continues even now to experience those things. If that is true, then I need to keep reaching out to her, on the off chance that she might see my words and know that she is loved, that there is a warm, safe place waiting for her still, no matter what.

And if she is not alive, then I want to keep her alive in the world by keeping her alive in people's memories. Don't like it? Don't read it.

But I am curious about who you are. Who would go to the trouble of reading my blog in the first place, and trying to post mean comments in the second place? What would make you hook in so deeply to something that is just none of your business? Of course I have to wonder if perhaps it is because you were involved with Michaela's kidnapping. Perhaps it is guilt that makes you act like an a**? If so, there are better ways to deal with it. Like confession. I don't even care if it is an anonymous confession. If you know what happened to Michaela, tell me. You want me to stop being bitter and pitiful? REMOVE THE KNIFE FROM MY HEART so I can either heal or bleed to death.

And if that's not the case, if you are just a mean, bitter person yourself, please just do me a favor and stop reading my blog. And be aware that your nasty comments are not going to be published.

Thanks.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Good God or bad God or no God?

Before I begin this post, I want to state that there are a lot of things I don't know, a lot of questions for which I am still seeking answers. Anybody who has been reading my blogs for any length of time knows that I have struggled with my faith as a Christian. There are many reasons for this. There are some good reasons, and there are some bad reasons.  But there is one thing that is not a cause of my struggles, and that is what happened to Michaela.

Recently I saw a post on Instagram, and on Facebook, about how if God does exist he is a petty tyrant and doesn't care about people or what is going on in the world, and that if he was real, the writer would rather go to hell. What was really disturbing about this was that it was posted by my son. My son who was once training to be a youth pastor. I remember when my little boy grew into a young man, and I would sit a few rows behind him in church. I would see his hands, grown so large to fit his 6'3" frame, raised in worship, and it would literally move me to tears of joy. I watched his spiritual growth with delight for years.

Then came the time of leaving.

I left first. It had been one of the very worst seasons of my life. Jaycee Dugard had been found, and I had so earnestly believed that finding her would mean finding Michaela. When my husband woke me up early that morning to tell me about Jaycee, I leaped up and told him, "We have to get the kitchen painted before Michaela comes home!" That had been followed by over a month of the most intense search for Michaela, as our investigators moved in on the property where Jaycee had been found and literally tore it down looking for any evidence that Michaela had been there, as they brought in search dogs and dug possible gravesites. It had also been physically exhausting, as I spent many days traveling out to the property to watch the efforts of our investigators. The story of Jaycee's recovery was huge, and yet Jaycee was not talking to the media. The media therefore, turned to me, and I was called on to do the early morning New York news/talk shows, and the late evening west coast shows. I'd be picked up at 3:00 in the morning to go to a local studio, often arriving at a building that was closed, locked and dark, and I'd have to find a way in. In the middle I'd travel in the heat of the day to the Antioch property where the investigation was being carried on, and where media camped out. It was all worth it. It is a large part of why Michaela's case is so well known today, 27 years after her kidnapping. But it was completely exhausting. And in the end, it yielded nothing, or at least not what I'd hoped. Having been really convinced for the first time since she'd been kidnapped that I might actually see her alive again, it was a devastating, devastating let down. I fell into the deepest depression of my life. And in the midst of that depression, I woke up one day and said not that I was angry at God, not that he had let me down in some way, not that he had let Michaela down in some way, but rather that suddenly Christianity didn't make any sense. There were some things in the background of my life, like flies that were hard to see but easy to hear buzzing, that added to this fall from faith. But regardless, I fell.

I left church, but my son was still there. At first he was shocked, and asked me questions and gave me answers, which I kind of laughed off. Yet one thing I knew was that I didn't want him to lose his faith. There were times I actually wept over the possibility of my son losing his faith. I remember at the time asking myself why this was. If I honestly thought that Christianity didn't make any sense, if I honestly thought it was wrong, then why on earth would I want my own child to be involved in it? And yet I did, very deep down in my heart. Even as I fell, I recognized this as significant. I recognized this as an indication that perhaps I really did believe.

But my son left, too, about two months after I did. He will swear to you that my leaving church had nothing at all to do with him leaving, but I know that is not true. I know that there were other things at play in his decision, but if I had not put those cracks in the foundation, I think it would have held against those other things.

I have since returned to my faith, dragging along with me a lot of those questions that I accumulated along the way. If I am a wave tossed on the ocean, they are strands of seaweed tied to my ankles. I am kicking and swimming despite that. Will they drag me down again? It is my intention to get to solid enough ground to be able to cut them away. Believe me, I am in search of the truth. There is so much in our world today that gets wrapped up with Christianity that just doesn't belong there. It is a religion, a faith, a state of heart, it is love. It is not politics, and it is a grave mistake to allow what the world has made of Christianity to dilute its true meaning.

The pertinent question is, why did I return to my faith? The answer is, God called me. God calls me, and tugs on my heart, and I resist. Why? Well, that's a completely different subject, which doesn't really fit in this blog entry. But God is difficult to resist when he really wants you, and I melt into his heart. God doesn't just call me, however. He answers me. I have had so many prayers answered. It's funny the way he does it. Sometimes it's just a big, direct answer, but even then it will often take me a minute to recognize: "Oh! Look at that! That is exactly what I prayed for!" So often, though, something will happen in life, and because I am slow on the uptake it may take me a little while to realize its importance, and how it ends answering a prayer of mine in a way I had never imagined. Yes, I'd love to give you examples of all these things, but honestly they involve other people whose privacy I have to respect. It has been more than sufficient for me to believe that God does hear, and does answer my prayers.

That leaves the big question, though, doesn't it? Why didn't God answer my prayers about Michaela? I can't tell you the definitive answer to that right now. One day, when the story has reached its conclusion, I think I probably will be able to, but at this moment, I just don't have the information. I don't even have Michaela's side of it. Did God answer her prayers? I don't know. Just because the prayers were not answered in the exact way I thought they should be does not mean they were ignored. And is there some great, high purpose in it? This morning in my Bible study I happened to be reading the story of Joseph, one of my favorites in the Bible, for obvious reasons. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, who then told his father that he had been killed by wild animals. His father grieved for many years over the loss of Joseph, who had been his favorite son. Meanwhile, Joseph had been highly favored by God and had risen to become the overseer for the entire land of Egypt. Having interpreted Pharaoh's dreams to mean that there would be several years of plenty, followed by several years of famine, Joseph had been put in charge of the land in order to set aside enough food to weather the famine. Joseph's brothers traveled from the land of Canaan to Egypt to buy food for their families, and eventually Joseph revealed to them who he was, and asked them to bring the whole family to live in the land of Goshen so that he could provide for them during the five years of famine yet to come. The evil thing that had befallen Joseph had turned out for good, as he was able to save the lives of many, including his family. Meanwhile, Joseph's father, Jacob, was told that his son was alive, and his heart stood still. I can never read this without it bringing tears of joy to my eyes. Jacob's son, who he thought was dead, was alive, and he went to him, and the Bible says they fell into each other's arms and wept. (Genesis 45-46 if you want to read it yourself.)

What great good could be accomplished by God allowing Michaela to be kidnapped and by not answering my prayers to bring her home? I don't know, any more than Jacob knew in all those years that his "dead" son was living in Egypt, building up stores of grain that would keep Jacob and his family alive during the famine. That I don't know doesn't mean it cannot be true. When I say that God "allowed" Michaela to be kidnapped, please don't confuse that with God "causing" her to be kidnapped. We live in this world, and we co-exist with evil, and all parties possess free will. The Bible tells us that "we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposes." (Romans 8:28) We know that not all our prayers are going to be answered. There are some things that must be. We all must die, sometime, some way. Because of that we can't all be healed always. We can, however, have faith that death is not the end, that there is something better. I can have that faith for Michaela. I can believe that we will ultimately be reunited, and in the span of eternity our suffering here will become small, but perhaps the good it may have done will become great, even if that good amounts to the touching of just one small, hurting soul, and bringing about healing and reconciliation.

My son concluded that his faith had been based on nothing but "emotions." To that I say, yeah? So? On the basis of "emotions" you believe in another person sufficiently to commit your entire life to them in marriage. On the basis of "emotions" you invest your heart and soul into a child. Through "emotions" you create great art. And if God reaches out and touches you, it will generate "emotions" for sure! It will also generate change in your life. If your faith is weak, God will provide what you need to make it strong. In the end, a lot of our questions are probably dumb and not really questions at all. They are just things we hang onto that would be better left behind. Because of my nature I am still pursuing them, and if I get answers I will share them, either here, or on my other blog, at www.just-sharon.com. But in the meantime, just as I have never fully understood how the internet works yet I continue to post blogs on it, I will continue to seek God's will.

To those who doubt, just look at the night sky. Does it go on forever? And ever? And ever? How can that be? How can that not be? Think about time, this moment you are in, with moments stretching out before and after, endlessly. Our minds cannot begin to comprehend these things, which must be so. Look at all that exists and wonder, how could this all have come from abso-frickin-lutely nothing? All our questions about the existence of God pale in comparison to the questions that must be asked about existence itself, period. Just be willing to ask the questions, and then be willing to hear the answers. I would include my son in this challenge. Don't assume you know things you don't know, even if they are questions. Our brains are limited. Our hearts are infinite.

Michaela, when you were a child I told you that if ever you needed help and I was not there to help you, you should ask God, and he would help you. My greatest desire is to one day hear how he did that.

I love you forever, baby girl. I feel in this moment the first time I held you in my arms, and I feel the next time I will hold you in my arms. God bless you, my love. If you are still here on this earth, remember that God has never stopped loving you, and neither have I.

mom

Room

I just saw the movie Room. If you haven't seen it, you should. It is a beautiful movie. The little boy in it was excellent, and reminded me so much of my granddaughter Shylah I had to love him.

But of course, it made me sad in a way that was beyond thought. It made me realize that there are so very many possible reasons to be sad that I haven't even considered.

It's funny, because lately I have been missing my imagination. I got a drawing pad, pencils and chalk pastels, but I haven't touched them because all I can see is the blank page, and I can't think of what to put on it. In my writing, I have to fight against rushing through, instead of stopping to dwell on the details, where the heart lives. But tonight I realized, of course my imagination has packed its bags and run away. Not knowing what happened to my daughter leaves too many possibilities open, too many things I cannot begin to entertain because they are too horrible. Not having the answers, any answers, all the possibilities wander around the edges of my consciousness. I cannot allow myself to imagine them, so I turn off my imagination as protection.

I am amazed at how much of a mess I am. It has been over 27 years, but in all this time, there has been no healing, at least in part because there is no resolution. It keeps happening, it keeps piling on and on, it never ends. It has robbed me of so much. It has robbed me of my daughter, my first child, but it has robbed me of pieces of myself along the way as well.

Still, I have lost nothing in comparison to what Michaela has lost. The movie tonight reiterated some of those themes I have heard about before, the feeling that the victim had of being unworthy. So I just want to say, again, for the thousandth time, that there is nothing at all that could ever change my love for you, Michaela. I love you. I know you. I know your heart and soul, and I have nothing but respect for you, no matter what may have happened. This is a safe place for you. If you are still alive out there, please contact me. I just want to hold you in my arms.

I love you forever, baby girl. I like you for always. For always and forever. No matter what.
mom

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Happy Birthday, Michaela

At this moment 37 years ago, Michaela, you were an hour old. All of the years of infertility, the difficulties in pregnancy and in labor, had melted away in that hour, as I was finally able to hold you in my arms. There has never been a child born on this earth who was more wanted, and more loved, than you. I had no idea of what the future would hold. I was young then, and there was so much I didn't know. I had never lost anybody I had really loved. Loss and death were shadows that haunted the dark edges of my conscious. Had I understood their absolute reality, would I have had the courage to enter a love like this?

I am not sure I even understood how deep my love would be for you, Michaela. But I learned fast. When I was pregnant I'd paid lip service to the notion of going back to work after you were born, but once I held you in my arms, I knew I could not do that. No paycheck, no money, no things, could ever be worth it. To leave you and go to work would be like ripping out a piece of my heart and leaving it behind every day. And you were so innocent, and so completely vulnerable. It was my job to take care of you. Nobody else could give you what I could give you: just plain love.

I sometimes drive by the house we lived in when you were born, Michaela. I am not blessed with an excellent memory, but I remember your infancy and toddlerhood very well. When these memories pass through my mind, they are often followed by an involuntary shake of the head. All that sweetness, innocence, all the good times, all the promise.... It feels like we were cheated, like a bad joke was played on us ... haha, fooled you. You thought you had happiness and love in the palm of your hand, but look! It is an illusion, something that can be snatched away in a moment by some stranger with long greasy hair and a pock marked face, who for some reason believed he had the right to take you. He didn't! He did not have that right! You were not some wild flower to be picked. You were mine to love and care for.

But he took you anyway, away to somewhere I could not see, I could not find, to somewhere where I could not hear your cries, I could not come to your side. When you were a baby, there was not ever once a time when I let you cry yourself to sleep. When you cried, I always held you and comforted you. Always. So how could this man come along and take you away where I could not comfort you?

Now ... so much time has passed. Where are you now? Did you ever just stop seeking comfort because you knew it wouldn't come? Or did comfort come from somewhere else? This morning when I was praying, I prayed for God to heal my broken heart ... broken in ways beyond sadness and grief, in ways even I can't grasp. They tell me to have hope, but for what am I to hope? Am I to hope that you spent the last 27 years suffering, in order that I might perhaps be able to see you again in this life? When people tell me that, to have hope, to believe that you will come home again, do they really understand what they are expecting me to believe? They think that it is somehow not hope to think it would be better for you to have spent the last 27 years in peace, in paradise. Is it not the best I can hope for, that when I was not able to help you, that our God stepped in and put his arms around you and carried you to a safe, happy place where there were no tears or suffering? I do not have to hope that I will see you again. I know that I will see you again.

But I don't know where you are. And for that reason I have to keep searching, reaching out to you. For that reason my mind and heart can never, ever just rest peacefully. As long as I don't know where you are, always in the back of my mind you will be crying out for help, for comfort, that I cannot give you. If that is true, Michaela. If you are alive somewhere, please let me know. Please let me know if you are okay, if you have made a life for yourself, or if you are not. If you are crying out for comfort, let me hear your cries! Let me comfort you. I want only to hold you in my arms and rock you until you are at peace.

And if you are not alive in this world, Michaela, I just pray that someone who knows what happened to you will tell us, and tell us where to find you. I think maybe I am ready to hear that now, if it is the truth. The not knowing, the endless imagining, has become more than I can take.

Wherever you are, Michaela, I celebrate your birth. You were one of the best gifts I have ever received in this life, and nothing that happened to you could ever change that. Not all the grief in the world could make a dent in the strength of my love for you, or the joy that you brought to me.

Love you forever, baby girl.
mom

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas

Dear Michaela,

This is our Christmas tree this year. The round dark spot you see is your "Baby's First Christmas" ornament, which has been on our tree every year since you were born.

I'm feeling sad this season.

I miss you.

I miss Christmas as it used to be.

I love you forever, baby girl. Wherever you are, Merry Christmas.

mom
(xxx)