Sheesh, even writing that first paragraph has blurred the computer screen through my tears. And I also want to slap myself. I mean, how can I be incapable of grasping these truths except in teensy bits when you, my sweet, wonderful daughter, had to endure something that is unknown but equally awful.
And now, by the way, I am actually sobbing. And just so you know, this also makes it difficult for Libby to put her make-up on, because when I cry about you, it makes her cry, too. You remember how Libby used to want to hang around you all the time? You know, she still loves you and misses you, Michaela.
In this little excerpt of Jaycee's story in People magazine, a couple of things stuck into my heart. Of her first night in captivity, she says:
He says he will be back later to bring me something to eat. Then he is gone.
The tears start again, softly at first and then my silent sobs rack my body.
I cry myself to sleep alone.
There are many horrors I can't wrap my mind around, partly because I have no idea what actually happened to you. But these are the things that have always, always haunted me, Michaela, because I know they are true ... the little things, just the simple fact of you being alone, with nobody to love or comfort you ... with me not there to love and comfort you. I remember the night before you were kidnapped I woke up in the middle of the night feeling crowded in my bed. I reached out my hand and my fingers touched your hair, and I knew it was you who had come into my bed. I was pretty uncomfortable, and I thought about waking you and sending you back to your own bed, but I didn't. I let you stay. And I am so glad that I did, that I allowed you to seek that comfort of my presence in the middle of the night, because I was never given the opportunity to do that again. And just that little thing completely shatters my heart, Michaela.
And this line also made me cry:
For the longest time, I couldn't remember what my mom looked like.
I would try to draw her, but her face wouldn't come to mind.
Michaela, after almost 23 years, you may not remember my face, but remember my heart. In this short article, Jaycee wrote of a lot of reasons she stayed with Garrido. She stayed because she had a baby, and she thought nobody would want her with a baby, she worried even after she was found about whether or not her mother would accept her daughters. Funny enough, she actually came to believe that she and her daughters were safer with Garrido, because he convinced her that without his protection her daughters might be kidnapped, like Jaycee herself had been.
Michaela, if you are out there, I just want to ask you to please cast away any fears that you have because wherever you've been and whatever has happened, you are my child, my daughter, you are my baby girl forever. You are the tiny baby, my first child, the first person to ever call me mommy, and no matter what has happened in your life or in mine, nothing is ever going to change my love for you. Over the years, I have moved from house to house, the family has changed, but that room in my heart that you came to occupy from even before your birth has not changed. It is still there, still warm, still furnished with your favorite things, always waiting for you to come home.
And I'm telling you that I am sitting here weeping as I write this blog, because I want you to know how heartbroken I am. If there is a balancing point between your fear of leaving where you are and your desire to come home, if you have trouble establishing which would be most comfortable for you, perhaps you might let this tip the scales towards coming home, knowing that my heart is broken, and this part of it can be fixed by nothing at all except holding you in my arms again.
I love you, Michaela. I love you, I love you, I love you. I stretch out my arms and reach my fingertips as far as I can, and tell you that I love you this much, just like you used to do time after time each night after I sent you to bed ... only it's never enough, as you know. I love you more, deeper and farther than my arms could ever reach.
Please, Michaela, come home. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Leave a comment on this blog. Just please, if it is at all within your power to do so, end this suffering that has gone on for almost 23 years now, for both of us.
And if it isn't in your power to do that, then just know that I love you, and know that none of this is your fault. Remember I 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? Well, I'm still there. Touch your heart, and feel my love for you, feel it envelope you with a warm, soft embrace that never ends.
I love you forever, Michaela.