I’m writing this letter on the eve of the 21st anniversary of your abduction. About a week ago your mother asked me and your other friends to write you a letter and I’ve spent that week trying to wrap my mind around what I should say to you.
The opportunity to convey to you all that my heart has longed to say over the past 20 years seems like a positive thing. I could take you along my journey, laugh and cry about the ups and downs and the in-betweens and talk to you as if you’d been there through it all. Maybe that would help patch this hole that has been residing in my heart. The loss of you created that void. It introduced me to the concept of “loss”. Since then, life has thrown other “losses” my way and I just throw everything I feel into that void. My faith tells me that none but God can fill it – but thus far I haven’t let him fully repair it. Maybe I’m holding on to that pain for a reason…I don’t know. I’m a work in progress and over the past couple of years God has revealed many areas of my life that need work. I’m clinging to the hope that someday everything will be repaired. But here I am writing all about myself when who I’m most interested in is you. It’s you, I’m sure, who has been most affected by the events of November 19th, 1988.
What happened to you since we last saw each other? Are you somewhere alone and hurting? Are you happy and want to be left alone? Do you need help? Are you even out there? I’ve got tons of questions for you. That is really all that I’m left with…well, that and some guilt, I guess. Everyone says not to feel guilty, but I do. I even feel guilty for feeling guilty…because I’m making all of this about myself. Listen to me…I sound kind of silly.
Michaela, I really hope you’re alive and happy. I hope you have been able to have the life experiences you deserve. From my perspective, you missed out on school and graduation, romance and love, college and success, children…You’ve missed out on everything and I’ve gotten to experience it all. I’m so sorry for your losses.
I wish we would have never gone back for the scooters. I wish we would have just gone home. I wish we would have been content to just play in the backyard. I wish we could have a “do-over”. Since that isn’t possible I just hope I’ve done well enough for you. Did I remember enough of the kidnapping to give the police something to go off of? Did I miss one crucial detail? How I wish I could know.
You know, my memories of you are just awesome. Our friendship was so fiercely loyal. We were two peas in a pod, weren’t we? We didn’t care if we were different…well actually, I cared…but you didn’t. You always accepted me. And you were such a developed personality for a 9-year-old. You had firm likes and dislikes…but you loved and accepted my more “middle of the road” personality. I loved you, my best friend, as my own sister. I looked up to you because your strength of character inspired me. I was truly blessed with your friendship. The title of being your “best friend” is an honor I carry with me always.
I’ve gotten close with your mother over the past couple of years. What an amazing experience that has been. I kept away from anything having to do with your kidnapping for many, many years. I was trying for normalcy, I guess. A couple of years ago I got a rare burst of courage that brought me to face this experience. I’m still processing it all – even after 21 years. Frequently I call up your mother and we have long talks about everything under the sun. It feels like home when I talk to her. She bears no resentment toward me. It is an incredible relief to feel her acceptance. She and I have one main thing in common, besides you. We both love God and have found ways to serve him in our lives. This common ground is so huge in our conversations. I really think God planned for your Mom to be a big influence on me during this time in my life.
I won’t go into detail over the events of my life so far…I’d love to be able to tell you in person. But here’s the gist: I went to college for music (big surprise, right?) and got married, had children, got a job in ministry and have since gotten divorced. The divorce has left me rethinking myself and my goals, but God has helped me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m on the upward swing.
I wish you could meet my daughter. She reminds me a lot of you. She’s brave and happy and loves the limelight! My son is a cautious-type. He’s very creative and emotional. I guess that makes him more like me. (Maybe that means they’ll become good friends)!
My life is a lot different than it was when we last knew each other, but there is still so much room for our friendship. If you’re out there, I’d love to know you again. If you’re reading this, know that I’m so sorry and have tried my best to help find you. Know that I treasure the short time we had together. Know that I’ll never stop hoping to see you again. You are loved, Michaela. Come home.
Your Best Friend,