Based on some of the comments I've been receiving on this blog entry, I think people are reading the first couple of sentences and not really taking in the rest. My faith collapses, but that doesn't mean it has been blown away. The rest of the first paragraph says that I recognize the flaws in my understanding that cause it to collapse. I'm just venting, just trying to pour out some of this terrible pain, just trying to find some relief. I don't have the small grace we usually have when we face devastating loss, which is the ability to go through the grieving process and find some small measure of peace. I know the loss still hurts, even after that. But my grief is arrested. I can't move on. I am stuck in what surely must be one of the many circles of hell.
Today I have a day off work. I have some things to do, but the day is largely formless, so let me try to put some words down here. My difficulty in writing has been due to several things. One of them has been a simple crisis of faith, a collapsing of the little house of beliefs I have been sheltering in. And I'm afraid that has included my faith in the idea that you are likely to be still alive. I have come to recognize over the years that I am quick to put on blinders. There was a time I used to think it was not possible that you could still be alive because if you were I was positive you would have found some way to contact me. Then I came to realize that there are a hundred and one reasons why you may not have been able to contact me, even if you were still alive. Recently, I started writing these letters to you, and you know, I think I really expected you to answer. Every time I go to check the mail in my post office box I think, maybe there will be a letter from Michaela.
But you have been silent. If you were there, I think that you would not be able to remain silent. Wherever you are, whatever you have been through, even if you chose not to save yourself, my heart cannot believe that you could see my grief and not be compelled to reach out and stop it.
I know I could be wrong. I know this. What makes me think that if you are out there, that you have even read my blog? Maybe you haven't even heard of it. Amazingly, I run into people every day who don't even know who you are. Not everybody watches CNN, America's Most Wanted, Dateline NBC, or even the local news. Not everybody even watches Oprah or reads People magazine, apparently, because they don't know, they haven't heard. Perhaps you are among them. Perhaps what I need to do is finish writing my book, Missing Michaela, and try to get it on every shelf in every store, and then perhaps you will see it, and you will know that I am still looking for you.
But I do also know that you might not be alive. And that's ... well, strikes me dumb. It is not the fact that I wouldn't see you again in this world, that I miss you, that takes away my words. It is the thought of you dying, the horrible and inconceivable thought that someone could have done that to you.
There have been other things I have really wanted to write in this blog, more pleasant things. I want to tell you some of the things going on in your family, and I will, in little bits, while respecting the privacy of your brothers and sisters and the people who share their lives. Your youngest sister just turned sixteen yesterday. Of course, you have never met her. This last year has been a really good one in her life, and I hope the next one is even better. This is good for me, you know, part of what has always kept me going, the joy of your brothers and sisters in my life. But yesterday, on her birthday, I got up and made breakfast for her, and we had breakfast together before school. I also gave her her birthday present in the morning -- some boots she had been wanting -- because I thought she might want to wear them that day, and also because I can hardly wait to give presents. Then she went to school and I went to work. In the evening, she went out with her boyfriend and some friends. She checked with me, to make sure it was okay, and I told her it was. This was the first time she had spent her actual birthday with other people instead of me. What I had told her was, this is your day, and I want you to do what makes you happy. This is surely not the first time any of my kids has spent their birthdays away from me. Alex lives a few hundred miles away and I haven't seen him on his birthday for years. Libby often goes out with other people on her birthday. But Johnna is the baby, you know. It makes my heart overflow with happiness to see my children happy, and I know that in order for them to be happy they have got to cut the apron strings and go out and make their own lives. If they walk away from me, as long as they are walking in a good direction, I am very happy.
But also I am sad. Letting go, especially of the last one, is sad. My life has been centered around being a mom for a very long time now. For almost 31 years, my children have been the center of my life, and I have been at least close to the center of theirs.
Well, all this goes back to you, too. I gradually let go of your brothers and sisters. I watch them go off happily, watch other people take the place at the center of their lives, including their own children! But you. With you, there was no bittersweet letting go. You were ripped away from me. You were not becoming independent. You were a child, still enveloped in the need for me. You weren't walking away to pursue your dreams. You were dragged screaming into a nightmare. For me, perhaps letting go of your brothers and sisters contains a distant echo of that first time. Johnna should be happy that she is the youngest. She reaps the benefit of the training I received from her older siblings in these things, of the training of my heart.
Michaela, one of the things I want to tell you is that there is something to come home to here. As much as my heart has been broken, the heart of our family has not been broken. There is still a place of joy here. There is still love, and it is all the stronger for knowing how precious it is, for knowing the price it can extract.
And I still love you, always,