I was so excited by this idea. I was excited not only by the prospect that she might be right, but just simply by the idea of writing to you. I have written about you endlessly in the last almost twenty-one years, but the thought of writing intimately to you fills me with joy. I pray you are there, I pray you read my words. Whether you come back to me or not, this is my way of coming back to you.
I am here with you. My heart beats with yours. Do you remember I used to tell you that if ever you needed me and I wasn't there, all you had to do was touch your heart, and you would find me there inside? I had never had in mind the kind of awful circumstances you have had to endure. But I am there, always, just as you are always with me.
I guess that before you were to come home, you'd like to know what's waiting for you. So first, let me tell you about your brothers and sisters.
Alex lives a couple of hundred miles from here, so I don't get to see him nearly as often as I'd like to. It was hard for me to get used to him living so far away, but I knew it was a good thing for him at the time. His girlfriend's family moved and he went with them. He and Karina have been together for a very long time now, and they have three adorable little girls. Raina is four, and Shylah is two, and Kalia is eight months. Raina is actually named after you, Raina Joy. Alex also has a son, Daniel, who is twelve years old, and he lives here in the Bay Area.
This is Alex with your nieces Kalia and Raina and your nephew Daniel.
This is your niece, Shylah.
When Raina was born I drove up and went to the hospital, along with Libby and your littlest sister, Johnna. We had to leave and come home that same evening because I had to go to work the next day. Alex walked us out of the hospital and I started crying and sobbing all the way to the car. It was really embarrassing, and I know people must have thought someone had just died rather than someone just having been born! But I was really sad because Raina was going to be so far away from me, and I knew that I wasn't going to get to be as much a part of her life as I would like to be. And for the first couple of years after she was born, every time I saw her she had to get used to me all over again. Now it's great. Now she remembers me, and she gets excited when I come to visit -- which is something I'm going to have to do again soon!
I wonder if you have children. If you do, I would so love to get to know them. I would love to have photos of them.
Then there is Libby. Inspector Lampkin at the Hayward Police Department recently returned your fourth grade journal to us, and we all thought it was funny that you kept talking about how annoying Libby was! Just so you know, Libby has had to pay for it because she's had a couple of little sisters along the way, and believe me she has been plenty annoyed! She's grown up, of course. She's 24 years old, and she is beautiful. She lives at home, which she doesn't like to do, but the economy has been tough. She was only three when you were kidnapped, so she doesn't have actual memories of you, but she knows you because we talk about you all the time. You are very much a part of her heart. And she would love to have the chance to annoy you again.
This is Libby with Raina and Alex.
Robbie was just a baby when you last saw him. I don't know if you remember, but you drew a picture of him when he was a baby, and wrote a note to him, and you folded it up and wrote "to Robbie when he is nine years old," which was how old you were when you wrote it. The amazing thing is that when he was nine, we were looking at his baby book, and tucked inside it was that note you had written. So he did get it when he was nine years old, just as you had wanted him to. Now Robbie is 21 years old. He is very tall, like 6'4" or something. His personality seems to me to be the most like you of all the kids. He's what my friend calls "the nicest boy." He works at two jobs, plus he works with the youth group at our church, and plans to be a youth pastor one day.
When Robbie was in high school, he was the lead singer (screamer) in a band that was pretty popular around town. It was a lot of fun. Now he actually writes some pretty acoustic songs. He's written quite a few worship songs, and a really beautiful song for his girlfriend, Courtney. When he was in college he got into theater. He was in several dramatic plays, and Fiddler on the Roof. It always surprises me when my kids do things like that. Being on the stage is the last thing I would ever choose to do. But I remember that you were supposed to sing a solo in the school Christmas pageant, and Trina did theater then and has continued to be involved in it throughout her life, so you probably would have chosen to do that as well.
About a year after you were gone, your dad and I split up. When you come home, you will see him. But a few years later I got remarried. My husband's name is Jeff. I had another baby, and Jeff already had a daughter, so that means you have two little sisters you have never met. Well, they aren't so little now. Ariel is your step-sister, and she is18 years old. As you can see, she's very pretty. She's lived with us since she was in kindergarten.
Ariel's senior picture.
Johnna likes to be sideways for some reason.
So we all live together in Nana's house. I know you will be sad that Nana passed away five years ago. After she died, we scattered her ashes out just past the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. We did that on the anniversary of your kidnapping, in 2004. When you come home, we can go out there and throw some flowers in the water for her. And afterwards, we can go to the Rainforest Cafe, which you will love. We took Raina to the Rainforest Cafe for her second birthday, and when her third birthday came around she actually said, "Can we go to the cafe again?" She couldn't remember me from visit to visit, but she doggone well remembered the Rainforest Cafe.