I remember watching the movie "Baby Boom" with you, not that long before I lost you, where Diane Keaton was a high powered executive who inherited a baby from a relative who had passed away. It ended up transforming her life, and she had to quit her job and move to the country where she stayed home with the baby, where she ended up starting a baby food company. I remember when we watched it you actually cried, and said, "When I grow up I want to be just like you, and stay home to take care of my children." So I guess it meant something to you, and hopefully it has to the other kids as well.
Money isn't the only reason we haven't gone on a lot of vacations, though. Part of it is that it is just plain hard to get me out of the house. I couldn't tell you exactly why or what that is all about. I know that after you were kidnapped, I wouldn't leave the house for a long time, because I expected you to come walking down the street to home, or to call, and I wanted to be sure to be there for you. So that's not it now, I know, but sometimes things just get ingrained in you and continue to affect you long after they have any validity in the reality of your life. Maybe also I'm afraid? A little bit, I think. But you know, Alex and his girls live just a few hours from here, and I don't get to see them nearly often enough....
Anyway, when we came back from our vacation, Johnna had another thing going on. One of her friends had come up with the idea of having a parade in Castro Valley for gay ... umm, not gay rights so much as just plain gay acceptance. This little event ended up ballooning into something so big the sheriff's department said they couldn't march anywhere because it was too many people. So it became a rally at the high school, with speakers and musicians, and a few hundred people attended. It was so much fun. It was just the nicest bunch of people, a really peaceful and happy event, and I was really impressed because afterwards there wasn't even a bunch of garbage to pick up. Here are some photos from the event for your family album.
Johnna with the group of people who gathered together to work on the event.
Johnna is the fourth from the left.
A few of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence came from San Francisco to support the event.
This is Billy, who was gorgeous and also an extraordinarily nice human being.
Of course, this is Johnna with him.
Johnna and the friends who started it all, being interviewed.
I suppose you can recognize Johnna by now. :)
Well, today I hope to be able to get back to work on the book I am writing. I know I've talked about it before, but it's a fiction novel about allowing love to triumph over fear ... and what happens when you don't, I guess. I have actually written a book about your kidnapping, and life since then, which kind of had the same theme, but I pulled it some years ago and have now replaced it with this idea. I did that partly because I realized that although it left me breathless much of the time, my life was not that interesting ... at least not unless I included other people's lives in it, and to do so would have been a violation of their privacy, which I don't feel I could do. Also, everybody (meaning publishers) wanted a resolution. They wanted an ending that told what had happened to you. The actual point of the book was learning to live with the questions, with unresolved grief, with continuing to go on and to choose to love in spite of it, but that is kind of a wispy point I guess. I read Jaycee's book, and there was a part where she spoke about losing a cat, and she pondered whether we should allow ourselves to love at all when it's inevitably going to end in loss. But that is the point. Those are the things those of us who have suffered such terrible losses must ponder in our hearts.
It's interesting that Jaycee focuses so much on animals. She allowed herself to feel the sense of loss in the love she had for her animals, but within that grief she had bundled up the loss of her mother, her sister, her life. I do that, too. I am sometimes ashamed because on my facebook I am far more likely to feature photos of animals in animal shelters than photos of missing children. I think part of the reason is because it is just a problem that is so much easier to actually solve. Here is an animal who will die if nobody adopts him or her. It is so much easier to find someone to do that and save the animal than to find a missing child. And it is also true that the photos of missing children receive far more press and attention than those unwanted animals. I get friends requests every day from people who have hundreds of friends in common with me. Funny enough, it is because they want to tell me about the issue of missing children.
But perhaps it is also that honestly the subject of missing children just clenches at my heart too deeply. It's like referred pain, I guess. You can only deal with what you can deal with. People say I'm strong, but perhaps I'm just too much of a coward to face up to some things. Yet those feelings will come out, if not where they originate, then in some other place where they are perhaps a bit easier to feel.
I do know that opening my heart up to love again after it was broken when you were taken was extraordinarily difficult and painful. Do you feel that also, Michaela? If you are out there somewhere reading this, if you have a reluctance to come home, is it because of that?
Anyway, the book I am writing begins with you. At first I started with a mom with a missing child, but I made the characters fictional and created different circumstances. But it just didn't ring true, so I cast that off and now the missing child in the book is you, every bit you. I changed your name, because I didn't want the reality of you and your kidnapping to lead people to assume that anything in the rest of the book is based on fact of any kind, because it isn't.Well, mostly not. I draw on my deepest feelings every day for this book. But basically it's an illustration. As for your name, I haven't settled on it for certain, but right now I have named you Aria Joy, which means "song of joy." That is what you are to me, a song of joy. And in the end, this book will be a love song for you. It is so difficult to write, though. It is so difficult to capture in words all that my heart holds for you.
I ask again, Michaela, that if you are out there somewhere reading this blog, that you would let me know. Even if you aren't ready to reveal yourself, where you are, to come home, just let me know. You can respond anonymously on this blog, or you can send me e-mails, or you can call me. I know some of those things can be traced, but not all can, and not easily. Let me know it's you by telling me something that nobody else in the world would know. Do you remember our family code word? A memory? Hope doesn't always float along like a helium filled balloon. Sometimes it is an iron anchor. It would lift my heart and my hopes so much to hear just a word from you, just to know that you are out there somewhere, that these words that I write are not falling into a chasm of emptiness.
But either way, I will keep writing to you. I will keep you alive with my words.
I love you forever, baby girl. I miss you. You are in my heart always.