Okay, here is the answer to how many photos of you I have in my cubicle at work. Four. There is a big one on the right hand wall, a ghostly one, in shades of grey. It may be kind of hard to see. There is also a little business card size one just to the right of the big yellow calendar. On the book shelf there is a card that we made for your anniversary a couple of years ago. And under my desk, there is a picture of you on my tote bag. There are also cards in the waiting room, and a missing flyer on the front door of the office. Last year after the anniversary, I came back to work and there were about six missing flyers hanging all over the front window!
I have tomorrow off work, so I will have some extra time, and maybe I'll post my last Where's Michaela puzzle for the moment, of family photos in the house. I think the real Michaela, or maybe Libby, would be the only one who could identify which pics are Michaela. Besides me, of course.
So I wanted to tell you about your friends. It's one of the little gifts you have left to me, these friends of yours. Because you are gone, they are my friends. There is Trina, of course. We lost touch for a lot of years, but then we finally found each other on myspace. She lives in another state, although I'm not going to say which one because I know she values her privacy. She has two little children, a boy and a girl. She has had her share of struggles in life, and in the last couple of years. She feels guilty, you know, because you were taken and she was left. I tell her that she shouldn't, and she knows that. Maybe what she really feels isn't so much guilty as just a sadness that is so deep she doesn't even really know what it is.
Kara, you remember her -- we used to babysit her at the time you were kidnapped. She had her problems also. She also lives in another state, and has a little girl. And Terrah, although I talk to her sister Cherise more. Then there is John. He's married and has three little boys. His wife's name is Michelle and she has blonde hair and blue eyes. She's very sweet, and she reminds me a lot of you. She's become a good friend to me. I actually ran into them when I gave a talk to my church about you, and they came. Afterwards, this man came up to me and said, "I don't know if you remember me, but I'm the boy in the picture." He was talking about that photo of you in the blue sweatshirt. We usually cut him out of the photo, but he was in the original.
There are a lot of people I never knew, people who were friends of yours at school. If you were to go through all my friends on facebook and myspace (which would be a BIG job), you'd probably come across a lot of your friends. But I'm going to just put out an open invitation, that if any of your friends want to write to you and send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I might print some Dear Michaela letters from other people as well. No promises, but I might!
I have been very proud of you because so many of the people who have gotten in touch with me have said that when they were kids they felt kind of like outsiders, and they always liked you because you were always nice to them, even when the other kids weren't. Yes, that's you, loving and kind. I could just see that after awhile you'd probably come to love someone who had you captive, just because you are such a loving person.
Just remember, you love me also. Remember, I was your first love, and you were my first also, in so many ways. You were the one who taught me the real meaning of love, it's depth and its richness ... and its cost. Loving you is worth any price. The only price it may not have been worth is the suffering you had to go through.
I love you, Michaela.