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.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

The last time ...

"They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child.
One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down,
And never pick them up that way again."
Easter 2015

Me with my youngest daughter, Johnna,
on her 21st birthday.
I have become such a crybaby lately. I just cry at the drop of a hat ... like right now for example. But yesterday morning I ran across a short piece on Facebook called "The Last Time" that has kind of done me in.

The last time. People say things like, always part with someone you love like it will be the last time you see them because you never know when that will be true. The Lord only knows I am aware of that one. And like it, do good for those you love, because you never know when the chance to do good will not come again. My mother has been gone for ten years, but as much as I may have done for her, I have never ceased counting on my fingers all the more things I could have done for her, as well as all the times I may have disappointed her. The last few days I have had Michaela's last night with me playing itself over and over in my head, how I woke in the middle of the night feeling cramped and crowded, and reached out my hand and identified the cause as Michaela by running my fingers through her hair. I don't know how, but almost 27 years later the tactile memory is still fresh, and in my fingers I can feel the texture of her hair, slightly tangled from sleep. I can feel the contours of her skull beneath my hand. And I am so so filled with longing to feel it again. Oh Lord, it is funny, isn't it? The little things that cause us to become undone. Well, at least that didn't turn into one of my regrets, as I chose to let her stay that night, to give her that comfort from her fears in the night, that one last time.

Whenever I publicly show signs of sadness in blogs, or on Facebook or other social media, all those people who just kind of know me assume that it is because of Michaela. That is enough sorrow to last a lifetime, for certain, and it would only be fair that having been served that full allotment that the rest of my life would be carefree. But alas, that is not the case. I have given birth to five children, plus one stepdaughter, and the fact is that where there is great love, there is potential for great sorrow. With children this is particularly true, because their sorrows are my sorrows. I feel it like a knife in my heart when their hearts are hurting.

And I have my own private sorrows as well, some of which just float free, nameless, origins unknown, destinations unknown. Perhaps reading this poem just nailed some of them down, gave them names and places of birth, as I realized the continuous experience of loss that is our lives. My children are all young adults now, and as of next week all but one of them will be gone from my house. The two oldest are actually hundreds of miles away. How did that happen? I am suffering from empty nest, and yet I am not. It's been a long, slow process, and for the most part I am ready for it now. My youngest daughter was my best friend for a long time, but then she went and got a new best friend and I was like, oh, maybe I will need to make a life of my own, and I gradually became more, well, independent. I used to plug in my headphones and call her on my break at work. Now I plug in my headphones and listen to a book. At this point, I am okay with life becoming more quiet and orderly and less of the chaos of a large family and lots of people coming and going all the time.

I actually like solitude. I grew up an only child in a military family where we were always moving to new places where I knew nobody. I really had no family in the United States except my parents, and now they are gone I have only my children. That is probably why I had so many of them, and yet it was really to no avail. Perhaps it was just fighting against my nature, my destiny, to be solitary. Today is Easter. It is a family holiday, and yet I am alone. Circumstances just arranged themselves that way. Most of my kids could not be here because of distance or work. One is with her boyfriend's family, which after three years together is her family as well, where they have huge family gatherings for holidays.

And I really don't mind it. I don't mind being alone. Honestly. In a little while, I will probably put on some music and clean, and that will actually make me happy. I will probably even dance while I clean! But for right now, for this moment, I just have to sit here for a bit and cry. It's not a bad thing, all this blubbering and boo-hooing I am doing these days. I have lifetimes of grief built up inside me that I have pushed down, hidden away, denied. I have distracted myself with people and busy-ness, I have hardened my heart, I have taken antidepressants. I just rid myself of those a few weeks ago, and perhaps that is why I am feeling so many feels, as my youngest daughter would put it. But it's okay. It is something I need to be able to do. If you have been washed up on the far shore by the storms in your life, you have got to swim the ocean if you ever want to get home.

But this morning, I am feeling not only the big losses -- Michaela, my mother -- and the medium losses, children growing up and leaving physically and/or emotionally. I am feeling all the small losses that could never have been grieved at the time because I never even knew they were happening. When, exactly, was the last time I held my child, put her down, and then never picked her up again??? And why does the knowledge that there was such a time fill me with such ever loving grief? I picked her up, put her down, and never ever picked her up again??? Five times over this happened, with each child. I might be forgiven for not noticing with the older children because my arms were always filled with another one, but with my youngest they were just empty, and I never knew.

When my children were babies, I was always being warned that I would regret how I was raising them. I just simply loved them. When they cried, I held them. I never, ever once in all the years with five babies left any one of them to cry themselves to sleep, however many people told me I had to do that. And you know what? They were all okay. They are a varied lot, my kids, but they have turned out to be really wonderful, loving human beings, and every single one of them goes to sleep at night without me. When was the last time I held one of my children until he or she fell asleep and laid them carefully in their beds so as not to wake them? Lifetimes ago, when we were other people.

I have to admit the Taylor Swift song "Last Kiss" has always laid me out. I have lost a lot of mascara over that song. And what always got to me was the notion of a last kiss, and the fact that when that kiss happens, you have no idea that is what it is.

If there is a theme that runs through my writing, it is that love = loss. Most people are not aware of that when they enter into love. They run giddily into the field of flowers, blissfully unaware of the fact that a hole can open up underneath them without warning, and they can fall into it. Those of us who have experienced a devastating loss, we know. Some of us avoid it, but for all of us, love is so much more, deeper, so much more precious (precious in its literal meaning, which is costly but of great worth). My youngest daughter was born with this knowledge, because she had the great privilege of experiencing my own deep grief throughout my pregnancy. I say "privilege" with tongue in cheek, and yet not, because as heavy a burden as this is to carry for anyone, much less one so young, it really is a gift to know in your heart how precious love is. Watching her experience my own fear and grief secondhand has been really, really hard, and yet I am proud of her because she does not run from it ... there are missteps here and there, barriers erected out of self protection, but for the most part she fully embraces love in full knowledge. And she is only 21. All my children experienced this to some extent, but none as fully as Johnna because it was during my pregnancy with her that all the grief I had closed my heart to flooded in as I opened my heart to loving a new child. I recently saw a video of an ultrasound of a baby in utero clapping its hands in time to its parents singing. I have read that a baby's tastes in food are affected by what the mother eats before they are born. I know what raged through me when Johnna was inside me, and I have seen her from infancy learning to process these feelings she couldn't possibly have understood.

Well, I am kind of babbling here. But I have stopped crying for now. Writing is good for that, but I need to move on to something more active now. Thank you for listening to me.

And Michaela, wherever you are, I hope you can hear me too. I love you forever, baby girl.

p.s.  Here is the full post from Facebook, for those who need their tear ducts cleaned.
From the moment you hold your baby in your arms,you will never be the same.You might long for the person you were before, When you have freedom and time,And nothing in particular to worry about.You will know tiredness like you never knew it before,And days will run into days that are exactly the same,Full of feedings and burping,Nappy changes and crying,Whining and fighting,Naps or a lack of naps,It might seem like a never-ending cycle.But don’t forget …There is a last time for everything.There will come a time when you will feed your baby for the very last time.They will fall asleep on you after a long dayAnd it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child.One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down,And never pick them up that way again.You will scrub their hair in the bath one nightAnd from that day on they will want to bathe alone.They will hold your hand to cross the road,Then never reach for it again.They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles,And it will be the last night you ever wake to this.One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus”and do all the actions,Then never sing them that song again.They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate,The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone.You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your last dirty face.They will run to you with arms raised for the very last time.The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last timeUntil there are no more times.And even then, it will take you a while to realize.So while you are living in these times,remember there are only so many of them and when they are gone, you will yearn for just one more day of them.For one last time.-Author Unknown-