Sunday, July 20, 2014

Michaela, God still loves you....

Sometimes I realize things, and I am shocked at how really slow on the uptake I have been not to have realized those things before. I feel I need to apologize, Michaela, because I am not sure that in all these blogs I have ever told you this one thing: God still loves you. 

Before you were kidnapped, I had told you a lot of things. I had told you that I loved you and that I would always take care of you. I had told you that if ever you were sad or lonely and I wasn't there all you had to do was touch your heart, and you would find me there. I had told you that if ever you needed help that you should ask God, and that God would help you. The first of my promises, I was not able to keep, and I am so very sorry for that. I only hope that you won't decide nothing I said was true because of that, because the rest of it is. I am in your heart, as you are in mine. You might forget me, might forget what I look like, might forget my name, could even forget that I ever existed, but I am still in your heart and I am still loving you, wherever you are, anywhere in this world, or in the next. 
The third promise ... well, you would be in a better position than I am to say whether God helped you or not. He could have helped you in ways I couldn't possibly imagine. You could have a better relationship with him than I do, know him far more intimately. Should you ever come home, it could be that you will be the one to teach me. But one of the things that has always haunted me is a moment that might have come when you felt abandoned, by me, and by God, when you surrendered to whatever may have been your fate with the knowledge that help was not going to come, no one was going to save you. That is such a heart rending thought to me, that I have never carried it terribly far from there. Not until just this past week, anyway, when it suddenly occurred to me that you could be alive out there somewhere, and you could still feel abandoned, helpless and hopeless. If you are reading this blog, of course you know that I still love you, that I still long for you to come home. But I can't reach out my hand far enough to touch you, to help you, to take your hand and lead you away from wherever you are.

But God can. Wherever you are, you are not alone. This is what I know for an absolute fact. All you have to do is open your heart up just a little bit to God, and he will come in. He will call to you. He will sing to you. He will love you with a love that is so soft and gentle it feels as though it will blow away if you breathe on it. But it won't. Touch it and it will grow stronger, will fill you with joy and will make you want to dance. I know this. I guarantee it. It may happen over a period of time. Once I opened the door to God and then forgot I'd done it and walked away, but behind all the noise of my life he kept calling until I said, oh, huh, it's you, God. It may happen instantly or overnight, as has happened to me. I have walked away from God more times than I care to admit, but all it has taken is a word and he has picked me up and loved me like ... well, like a missing child who has been found. But once you are his, you are always his. And you, Michaela, are his, and if you are not in his presence now, all you have to do is call to him and he will be there for you. The picture above is one of my favorites. It is called Jesus Reached Down. But he is reaching underwater, to save someone who is drowning. When we run out of air, when we run out of hope, he will be there.

I have no idea what you have had to endure since the moment you were grabbed and stolen away. Nor can I tell you why things like that happen, how it could be that God could have allowed you to be kidnapped in the first place, or why he didn't answer my prayers, your prayers, the millions of prayers offered for you over the years, to bring you home safely. But I do believe as the Bible says, that "All things work together for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purposes." And this I believe, also, that you, Michaela, have a light. You were born with a light. Those who knew you could see it when you were here, and it shines just as brightly now, even though you yourself are hidden from us. You have been a gift to the world in your presence, and you have continued to be a gift to the world in your absence. So many hearts and lives you have touched, Michaela. If you were to come home, you would not ever have to worry about being ashamed about where you had been or what has happened to you. The world loves you, baby girl. I love you. God loves you. You have a very special destiny ... to touch the world in its heart, and create love.

I have been reading a book this week, called Unspoken by Dee Henderson. It is about a woman (Charlotte) who had been kidnapped for four years, between the ages of 16 and 20. And what Charlotte says is that she could never believe in a God who would have forgiven the men who had hurt her. That thought kind of startled me, not that she couldn't believe in God because of what had happened to her, but because God would have been willing to forgive and love the men who had hurt her. This is true, though. Many years ago I wrote about God's love for Nancy Garrido. I want to write now about God's love for whoever is responsible for Michaela's kidnapping. I have always know this, God's love for you, and God's sorrow for you, from the moment I first laid eyes on the composite. So I say to you, too ... God is there. He is real. Open the door of your heart just a crack and he will come in, and change your life and change your heart, whether you are the person who kidnapped her, or anyone else who was involved in any way with Michaela's kidnapping, or anything else for that matter. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock" is what Jesus said. All you have to do is open the door.

Michaela, of course I have to say again, if you are still alive please come home. You can do it. With God's help, you can do it. But most of all, what I want is for you to be at peace, for you to be happy.

Until we meet again, and we will, just know that I love you forever baby girl.

mom

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Michaela dream

I had a dream last night that the case was on the verge of being solved, that there were several very strong possibilities. And in the middle of it, three women came to my house. Two of them were islanders of some sort, and one was a blonde woman, and they said she was Michaela.  I wasn't sure whether to believe them or not. I said, well, you are beautiful enough to be Michaela. She was upset because I didn't believe her. I asked her why she thought she was Michaela, and she said because I remember, you are my mother. I looked at her closely and could see a faint trace of a "stork bite" birth mark she'd had as a baby (she no longer has that by the way), and I thought yes, this is Michaela. I held her for a moment, and we talked for a little while, and then she left.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Too much pain....

When you have enough pain, you stop feeling. That in itself is a problem, however. It's like that disease, where you can't feel physical pain. You can be seriously ill or injured, and you won't even know until it's too late.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Second Day in Heaven

It has been just a day since my Auntie Joy died. I had to actually stop and think about that, because it seems like it has been such an eternity since I heard the news. But she feels so close. It's almost as though I can close my eyes and see her.

Yesterday, I could almost hear the party going on in heaven. She was 94 this month, pretty much the very last of her generation (and independent, living in her own home until the end may I add). She and my mother had been very close, and of course my uncle, her husband, my grandmother, her own parents, her cousins, her friends of a lifetime. They had waited a long time for her to arrive, and there was great joy in heaven.

Today, also, I have had a picture floating in my mind, of that second day in heaven, of the settling in. What I was feeling made sense as I remembered the occasions when my grandmother would visit from England. There was the arrival, when we all went to the airport, and there was so much excitement. Then came the second day. I can see my grandmother sitting in an armchair in her housecoat the next morning, dressed in her housecoat, drinking a cup of tea. Excitement had passed, and peace had set in. She was no longer a new visitor; she was making herself at home.

That is what I am feeling for my auntie's second day in heaven. Then maybe some sight seeing later, getting acquainted, learning where everything is.

It's one of the advantages of outliving most of your generation, having such a party waiting for you, going to a place that is more full of people you love than the place you are leaving. Yet another reason why it is not fair for those who die young. If Michaela died in 1988, she would have had a few relatives waiting for her. She even wrote a note about it, which we just found a couple of years ago. Her Grandma Madge, her Grandfather, even her guinea pigs. Others also that she didn't know. My grandmother, my uncle, relatives even I don't know. But she would have left the ones who loved her most behind.

One of my friends, Chris, lost her daughter to a car accident when she was 17. Chris now works with other mothers who have lost their children. Angel mom, they are called. She was talking this morning about how many of them have developed cancer, including a few who are in their final days. Why is this happening, she wanted to know. Not one to state the obvious, I suggested that maybe they long so much for their lost children, they want to go to them. But they don't want to die, she said. No, of course not, because probably they have children here still, people who need them. Who knows? Perhaps the children who have gone are longing for their mothers.

I don't know. I don't know why I am talking. Most people fear death, at least somewhat. I keep insisting that I don't. I will tell you that my only fear of death is of leaving those who need me ... my children, my family, my dogs even. I keep thinking that besides the grief of separation, death would be a great adventure. But I guess it takes standing on the doorstep to really know how you feel.

I keep being struck by the fact that I will never again be able to call my Auntie Joy and have a chat. I am really sad that I never got to visit her in these last few years. She invited me many times, but I just could never afford it, the combined expense of the trip plus missing the amount of work that would be necessary to have a real visit. I get a few days vacation a year on my job, but they are usually used up one at a time, to cover sick leave, to be able to see my daughter off to a prom, to attend events. I don't have blocks of weeks left to travel. I keep thinking, though, that I should have found a way. I should have made a way. Let me tell you, everybody, everywhere, to remember that tomorrow is not always promised. Don't put things off. Don't create regrets you will live with forever.

I think she is okay, though, my Auntie Joy. In fact, I think she is good, happier than she has been in awhile.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Another Goodbye

My Auntie Joy and me when I was a baby.
Early this morning I received a telephone call from England to let me know that my Auntie Joy had passed away this morning. Michaela, if you are alive out there, I know you'd want to know, and if you are not alive out there somewhere, I know you are right now part of the party of so many of our loved ones who are excitedly welcoming her.

As deaths go, this wasn't what you'd call a sad occasion. This month she would have been 94 years old. One by one through the years she had lost those who were close to her. She lived a good life, living in her own home until just last Friday when she entered the hospital for the last time. She hadn't been ill. She didn't have cancer, ephysema, heart disease, or any other horrible killer. It seems she had just worn out. "She'd become very frail." She didn't have dependents, not children or dogs or cats or birds. She was free, free to go on to the next world without a single thing to hold her to this one. She was free to be reunited with all those she'd loved, who had waited so long for her.

For me, well, we had lived a half a world apart for most of my life. She lived in England, and I lived all over the place, but in England for just brief periods of that time. It was an important time, however. I was born there, my mother's family was all there. It was where I felt my roots to be. I am an only child myself. I am the only child in my generation in my mother's side of the family, and that really and truly made me everybody's child. My aunt, although I so rarely saw her, was a part of my heart, my heritage, my home. She was like a distant mother or grandmother. In recent years since the advent of inexpensive international calling I spoke to her perhaps once a month. Since my mother's death almost ten years ago, she was my only living relative, the last person to tie me to my roots. She was the last living person who knew me as a child, who loved me as her own.

So although in practical terms her death really just means we won't have any more transatlantic phone conversations, in reality it felt like a stab to my heart. It never fails to surprise me, the emotional impact the death of someone you love has, however great or small a part they play in your life.

As you have gathered, my sorrow was moderated somewhat by what came to my mind, which was what a joyful homecoming she would experience after death. This was something that I just felt intuitively, as though the bonds I felt with my family transcended the line between this life and the next. I could literally feel the joy. I also noticed that there was one thing that didn't enter into my mind, and that was the question of what her relationship with Jesus was and whether she would have gone to heaven or hell.

Even before this happened, I had been thinking about my faith, had thought about how it stood up to that final question, that if I knew I was going to die, or if someone I loved died, what did I think, what did I feel deep in my heart, would happen after they died. And I knew there was no way I would be worrying about anybody going to hell. Nor did I have a particular vision of Jesus waiting on the other side. No, what I saw, what I felt, was just the love of those who are waiting for us. I am just not sure what this makes me. A really, really bad Christian? Certainly not gifted with evangelism anyway. I wrote a post on my other blog, www.just-sharon.com, about the Castro Valley Pride event that was coming up (which my daughter helped found a few years ago), and how I felt about gays. I love them. I think they are fine, just the way they are. I know there are other Christians who think this, and there are also other Christians who believe everybody will go to heaven. But I'm not sure where they are, and I'm not sure where that leaves me.

I am not going to quit on faith. I believe in God, and I keep telling him I just want to know the truth about him. If he is real and if he loves me even a teensy bit, it seems to me that he could not fail to answer that prayer, could he?

Michaela, there have been so many losses since you have been gone. If you are out there somewhere, please come home before there are any more. And if you are not, then just enjoy the company, my baby girl. Have a party.

Love you forever,
mom

Friday, June 27, 2014

So many goodbyes....


Me and my mama.
I have seen so many posts on Facebook by people whose mothers or fathers have died this week. Most of them were posted by people I don't really know, but there have been a couple I do. I am always shocked when I see these posts. The fact of death is just a jolt, the rawness of the grief expressed makes my own heart ache. Another friend, someone I actually do know, has posted a number of memes about waiting for the grief to end. She lost her husband a few months ago. One of the memes she posted said "H.O.P.E. ... hold on pain ends." I so helpfully commented, "They are lying." The pain of a relationship breakup, that usually ends. But those who are torn from us by death, those whose hearts beat with ours until the moment they stopped beating, or were so far away we couldn't feel them any longer ... that is something that does not. ever. end. Grief and sorrow are an endless ocean. The tides come and go, and we learn to ride the waves and swim in the depths, but it never goes away.

Me, I am a master of the state of denial. I run from those waves. I dig holes deep in the sand and hide in them. It surprises me that I am able to convey my feelings in writing, considering how hard a time have conveying them to myself. It is why I haven't written much lately, I think. I have talked about those years in which I refused to say the word "God." It is like that with my grief. If I refuse to name it, I don't have to acknowledge its existence. Somehow, in ways I don't fully understand, this denial is always tinged slightly with anger. I have a tiny subconscious anger towards my mother, towards Michaela. Why? I don't know for sure. I am just being brutally, nakedly honest about what I feel. Angry that they left me?  Oh! No. I think I've got it. I think I just now realized it. Many years ago, in the second year after Michaela was kidnapped, I was suffering from a huge amount of anger, and at that time I realized that anger was nothing more than sorrow turned inside out and thrown outside ourselves, so we didn't have to feel it. Perhaps it is just that. I can't, cannot cannot cannot, feel that sorrow. I must turn it into anything and everything except what it is, because I cannot, cannot, cannot, absolutely refuse to, FEEL IT.

A mess. Yes I am a mess, a messy mess of grief I cannot deal with.

When I see the grief of others, I really want to help them. I want to reach out and touch them and make them feel better. I want to offer some wisdom. I can tell them, look, I am still here. I am still standing. I am walking and talking, working, loving, and I'm laughing. Hey, I took two Facebook quizzes last week that told me that I am joyful, and doggone it, I am! If I can survive, you can too.

But at what price? I feel it at this moment, that aching aching sorrow that wants to well up. I feel the tears come to my eyes, and I want to sob and sob. But I can't. I know this is probably unrelated, and it is also TMI (too much information), but for many years now I have been literally unable to vomit. No matter how sick I am. I can go through the motions, but they are empty. Nothing comes up. Who knows, maybe it is related. I am, perhaps, beyond help. I can't help myself. I can only dig the holes deeper and pull the sand in over my head, over my heart.

Sorry, I know this is a depressing post. I didn't even plan it. It just spewed forth. Haha. Never at a loss for words anyway. Undoubtedly I am too able to let those loose.

I will feel better tomorrow. Not sure if that's a good thing or not, but it enables me to get up in the morning and go to work, to keep living even in the presence of loss so awful I can't stand it. I will, essentially, go back to not really knowing how I feel.

Mama, I love you. I am so sorry. I love you unbearably. I carry your love with me, in my heart, just as I promised you I would.

And Michaela, I love you too, forever. It is the most difficult thing I have ever done, loving  you, but I do. I am so sorry that I could not protect you like I promised I would. I am so sorry I could not save you. I am so sorry, so sorry for every blog I am not able to write because I cannot look that sorrow in the face one more time.

I feel as though I have failed you both, mama and Michaela, because I cannot turn from my grief without turning from my love. I am just so sorry. There have been many losses in my life, but you are the two I cannot face because it just hurts too much.

I am just so sorry.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

God could have left Job (and us) alone...

My dear friend Pastor David sent this video to me. It is extraordinarily powerful, and speaks to the questions in my previous blog so well.....

May it speak to you as it has spoken to me. God could have left Job alone, by Bob Sorge.