Thursday, September 1, 2011

Never letting go ...

There is much on my mind and heart that I want to share, and yet I will admit that I have been putting it off. But now the dishes are done, and the coffee pot is set for the morning. I'm sitting on the couch with my laptop, watching Bones out of the corner of my eye and wishing investigations could be tied up as neatly as they are on television ... at least maybe I wish that.

Well, I have to tell you that investigation has worked like it's supposed to this week. The girl in the photograph I posted a little while ago has been found. She has been found by our investigator, and she was also identified by some really nice people who grew up in the town of Antioch and put their heads together. I have to tell you, I am amazed at how well both the police and civilian investigations worked. But the fact is, the girl in the photo is not Michaela. She and her friends and her family all verified that, and yet you will all be happy to know that our investigator took that extra step to be thorough and took fingerprints just to make sure. She and her family have been very cooperative, and in fact she and her sister have both posted comments on Michaela's facebook and on this blog.

I guess I might just as well confess that in the last couple of weeks I went overboard about something else as well. A week ago I got an e-mail from someone whose name I didn't recognize, with the subject line "Headed Home." I get a lot of e-mails from political parties with subject lines like that, sent as though they are from individuals. So I figured I'd open the e-mail and it would say, "we are headed into the home stretch in this election or on this cause, and all we need to make it all the way is some money from you." But instead, the e-mail had no text at all ... just a photograph taken from the inside of a car of a rural highway with a numbered exit sign. I am not sure how long it took me, but it wasn't long before I leaped headlong into the conclusion that it must be from someone who was driving Michaela home. (The name on it was a man's name.)

All of you sleuthers out there will be happy to know that I did run a search on the IP address, but its location could not be identified. I'm guessing this means that it came from a cell phone? The sender's information on the e-mail indicated it came from somewhere in the eastern standard time zone. I did actually run a google search of the highway exit number and looked at photographs and google maps of those exits all around the country and couldn't find one that matched ... not that it would necessarily give me much to work on if it did. I have personally passed a whole lot of numbered highway exit signs in the last couple of months, but I don't think knowing that would really help anybody to find me, or to identify me.

After a day or two, though, I had calmed myself down, and I had decided that it was likely a wrong e-mail address. I'm not the only Sharon Murch in the world. Probably somebody sent it to my gmail address when they really meant to send it to a Sharon Murch with a yahoo or hotmail or comcast or aol or yada yada address. I did send a couple of messages and didn't get an answer ... if I sent something to a wrong email address I'd probably say oops sorry, but I suffer from a compulsion to answer when people speak to me. I know just from sending text messages to my kids that not everybody feels this way!

In the aftermath of these things, people started asking me if I was okay. And I always answered that I was. I feel compelled to say this for some reason. Well, it is true that there are people over the years who have thought that they were protecting me by keeping me from getting my hopes up. I don't really want people trying to protect me when it comes to Michaela's case. First, that always involves hiding things from me, and I want to know everything I can about my daughter. And second ... well, any chance of protecting me disappeared when my daughter was grabbed by a stranger and thrown into his car. That is the cause of all the heartache and grief I suffer.

I've said it many times, but unfulfilled hope is a really heavy burden to carry, and "getting my hopes up" sometimes just feels so good. It's like a little balloon comes along and attaches itself to my heart and holds it up for a little while. It's not just emotional, either. I mean, one morning I woke up and turned on my computer and found that someone had sent me a photograph that could have been Michaela. If that proves nothing else, it does prove that things can change in an instant, that at any moment a piece of information may be provided that will open up the case and lead to Michaela, that just because I don't know it now and haven't known it for the last 22 years, it doesn't mean that I won't learn it tomorrow.

Hope just brings hope.

But still, when hope comes crashing down ... again ... it hurts. My daughter Libby worries about me probably more than anybody else does. After she found out about it, she called to see if I was okay. I found myself again having that reaction, just automatically wanting to say I was okay, to deny that it hurt. Why am I doing this, I asked myself? Is it that I don't want to look weak? She asked me, "Did you cry?" And I wanted to say "No, I'm fine." But instead I just said, "yes."

I was at work when I found out. I tried to ignore it, tried to be the strong person I wanted people to believe I was. But a heaviness settled in my chest, and tears filled my eyes. Driving home from work, those tears came again. I really wanted nothing more than to find a place to be alone and to sob and let all those bottled up feelings out. But there is no place like that in my world.

It's okay, though. It's okay to be sad. I read a book recently, in which there were so many people who were missing, or had been missing, so many mysteries to be solved, sprinkled with philosophical discussions about whether or not we should keep looking for the lost and what it means about us... But there was one little boy whose mother had died, and he always wore her red hat, because he missed her and it was his connection with her. But life went on, he made new connections, he healed.  Then one day he took his mother's red hat and put it away neatly in the drawer of his new dresser.  His mother's death hadn't made me cry. Him missing her so much he had to keep her hat with him hadn't made me cry. But him putting it away did ... it was like opening his hand and letting her go. I know it's a good thing. I know that those of us who are left behind need to do that. And I know that those who loved us would want us to do that ... they wouldn't want us to live in protracted grief and sorrow. But still....

There have been times when my sorrow has been so deep I have had to turn my back on it. I've had to close my eyes so I wouldn't get dizzy and fall into its bottomless depths. But I cannot, I will not, open my hand and let go of Michaela. She is my daughter, my baby girl, the love of my heart. If it hurts, then it hurts. It's not Michaela's fault, or the fault of people who send in leads, or anybody else's fault. It is the fault of the man who took her away from me, and nobody else's.

I got this news yesterday. Last night I spent the evening stuffing bumper stickers into envelopes to mail out. It reminded me of those early days, of all those hundreds and thousands of flyers stuffed into envelopes and mailed all over the place. I took each bumper sticker before I put it into the envelope, and kissed Michaela's picture. I send them out with love, continuing still and always to hope.

Thank you all, for trying to help.

God bless,
Sharon




36 comments:

  1. My heart goes out to you. reading your words, the love and hope and care behind them bring tears to my eyes. I dont know your beliefs but I know that things happen for a reason. every thing in life, we learn from. I also believe in magic and that anything is possible and nothing is absolute.

    I am glad I found your blog. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. I agree with you, Sabrina. Have you seen my other blog? It's a more metaphysical look into Michaela's kidnapping.

    www.thewanderingjourney.blogspot.com

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  3. Hi sharon,

    My heart goes out to you... like my sister said things happen for a reason.. like I said before I will still pray and hope that she is found alive. I'm sorry that you had the false hope when my picture came to you. Try to be as strong as you can be that's all you can do!

    Take care of yourself keep your daughter alive in your heart and keep your blogging going!

    <3
    Tabitha

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  4. Thanks, Tabitha. I know you have posted it before, so I hope you don't mind my saying this, but Tabitha is the girl in the picture, and Sabrina is her sister.

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  5. I don't believe in magic....but I do believe in God, and He knows how much you are hurting Sharon. Besides the monster that took your beautiful daughter, God is probably the only one who knows where your child is. Believe me, this man will pay for what he has done. He can not run from God. I would like to give you a hug and tell you that all will be well, but I know it will never be well for you until you know where your child is and what happened to her. I pray that you find that out soon, because you have suffered way too long Sharon. May God be with you and may He give you the strength you need to get through each passing day.

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  6. It's ok I don't mind! If I didn't want anyone to know I wouldn't have posted it.

    <3
    Tabitha

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  7. Yes, I have seen the other blog and was impressed with the effort I know went into those charts. It is also why I felt comfortable commenting as I did... and allowing you to see my FB profile. I have many close friends who are excellent astrologers. It is not a skill I have yet caught on to but I do understand alot of it.

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  8. Wow! Its amazing how quickly you were able to figure out who was in that photo! I am so, so, so sorry that you did not get the answer you were looking for.

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  9. I am so sorry that photo turned out not to be Michaela. I too believe in magic and I believe that hope gives us something to hold to when there nothing else. You cannot give up the hope that she will one day be found because she is a part of you that's no longer with you. I understand that a piece of you went missing the day that she did too, because I know that's how I would feel if something like that ever happened to my Michaela or my son Jacob. I hope and pray for you all the Sharon and for Michaela. I hope she is found and you get the answers you deserve. I think you are an amazing, strong woman to keep going and keep hoping for all these years.

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  10. I too am sorry that you didn't get the answer you were looking for. It's sad, I starred crying as I read this blog entry, seriously I think I would just die if that happened to me but I know that's not something you can really do. I can't imagine was it must be like everyday not knowing what happened it would reall feel like a piece of me was missing you are far stronger than I would be. I wish I lived down there I would walk the streets at night in hopes of finding her ,idk...something but I'm in Canada so not much I can do other than pray she comes home or is found.

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  11. Thank you, Diana. In 22 years, though, she could be anywhere ... even in Canada. So wherever you run into a woman in her early thirties who looks like Michaela, just ask her, "Are you Michaela Garecht?"

    I have business size cards I made up, with Michaela's photo on them, and her website addresses. I send out a few with the bumper stickers. Maybe I should get more made, and we can have a small army of people looking in the streets for Michaela, and handing out the cards?

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  12. That is a great idea cause you never know but for me I feel she is in Cali still. Idk I'm not psychic or anything I do feel she is alive if anything ...just where? I want her to be alive for you,for herself. I know there are thousands of missing kids but this case and the Robert pick ton case are two cases I always think about when I'm alone or laying in bed reading. I have prayed every night since knowing about your girl that she is found. They never found a body so she has to be alive out there,has to be. Someday the answer will be given but it would be nice if one didn't have to wait so long. So many people want her to be found lie I said if I was out there I would look in my free time just random odd places but Im not. It's too bad they couldn't do commercials for missing kids like regular commercials that air during the day so someone sees them because lots of people don't watch thenews or dateline like shows...

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  13. Hi Sharon, I just wanted to say, I came upon your blog and think of you and Michaela all the time,I so hope and pray that sometime very soon you find your daughter. I know this sounds bad but it makes me so angry that anyone could take away your beautiful daughter from you her mother (I have 3 children so can only imagine how you feel). Sending lots of positive vibes and thinking of you now....Cheryl

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  14. Hi Sharon,

    I'm so sorry to hear that the girl in the photo is not Michaela but I am also happy for your sake that it didn't take months or years to find out or to never find out at all. I'm sure you probably have mixed feelings about this at the moment, on one hand the hope of the girl in the photo being Michaela is gone and on the other relief that it didn't take a long time to find out.

    What beautiful, caring people Tabitha and Sabrina must be to not only co-operate in the investigation but to come here and support you. God bless you both.

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  15. Yes, you are right, Chris, about all of it.

    And Cheryl, thank you.

    <3

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  16. Sharon, I am surprised to see how quickly this has been resolved. It shows that your blog is a powerful tool in connecting the community with law enforcement. 22 years ago, this might have taken longer.
    The other positive is that the woman who posted remembered the little girl who resembled Michaela after all this time and cared enough to post.
    Although this is not Michaela, eliminating this lead has taken us one step closer to her. The perpetrator may think he will not be caught, but he will be caught.
    Yes, I will be happy to give out cards for Michaela and do anything else to help-will email you Sharon.

    Radhika

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  17. I also am happy that the woman brought this to our attention. I would much rather someone got my hopes up about something that turned out to be nothing, than that they didn't speak up because they were afraid they might be wrong, when actually they were right.

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  18. Thank you chris,

    Yes I was very sad for sharon when I got the news about the possible lead with my picture being turned in because I'm not her daughter... my heart goes out to sharon I have 4 kids myself and I don't know what I would do if any of them were taken away from me... my oldest is 14 (girl) and I have 3 boys 12, 2 and 2 months... I don't let my daugher take off very far away from home without being in a group with gurrido's home being so close to my home its scary!!

    I know sharon that I would be blessed to have you as a mother( not that my mom isn't amazing) I wish you the best of luck and hope your preasious daugher comes home to you!

    One day we should meet so I can give you a big hug and tell you that I am sorry that I wasn't who you hoped I was!

    Tabitha

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  19. You are welcome Tabitha. It is so very heart warming to see someone like you that is willing to come forward and help a heart broken mother.

    I have 3 daughters, and my oldest is about to bless me with my first grandchild in October and I too can't even begin to imagine what I would do if one of my girls were taken away from me. It hurts my heart to even think about it.

    I pray that Michaela will come home to her loving Mother soon.

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  20. Chris,

    Congrats on your grand baby! I hope your daughter has a smooth delivery.

    Tabitha

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  21. Thanks Tabitha.

    She has placenta previa and we just found out yesterday that she has to have a C section but that's not the worst thing in the world, I had 2. So long as Mum and Bub are OK, that's the main thing.

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  22. chandler,new orleansSeptember 3, 2011 at 9:17 PM

    hi sharon,i would love to hand out cards in new orleans where i live and do my part in bringing michaela back home safe.please let me know what i can do to help.thanks sharon.

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  23. Sorry to hear the news Sharon. I was looking at the girl's picture that looked like Michaela and then I looked at Tabitha's pic that is part of her profile. There is no way you can look at one and say the other is the same person. Other than the blond hair, they look so different. I'm guessing Michaela looks so completely different by now that unless she or someone comes forward, or there is a dna type match, it would be very difficult to identify Michaela. I'm not sure looking at old pics and approaching strangers would be worthwhile as there would be so many white, blond girls in their early 30s. Even the facial symmetry would have probably changed that the computers would have a hard time identifying. I'm thinking you just have to keep this alive, and someone will come forward, just like that lady who sent the picture. Also, if Michaela or anyone who knew Michaela after the kidnapping were alive, these years probably have a much higher chance of locating her due to the proliferation of internet and social networks. I hope Michaela comes home real soon.

    - Abby.

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  24. That's true, Abby. It's not a scientific approach, but if people kept asking people who looked like Michaela if they were Michaela, maybe you'd find one. Some years ago, a friend's son went missing, was living on the streets, and my daughter actually found him.

    Chandler, if you want cards or bumper stickers, you need to e-mail me your address to sharon.murch@gmail.com.

    Thanks.

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  25. It's true that the approach is not perfect. However, if everyone on Michaela's Facebook page gave out just a few cards, it would result in a few thousand being handed out! That increases the odds tremendously.

    I remember reading that the officers who found Shawn Hornbeck were following up on a tip about a dent in a truck (in which the other boy had been kidnapped). What were the chances that some truck with a dent some hundreds of miles away would be the one they were looking for? They checked it out anyway, which yielded the kidnapper and the two boys.

    Radhika

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  26. "I guess I might just as well confess that in the last couple of weeks I went overboard about something else as well" - Sharon,you never went overboard in investigating the picture of the blond girl Tamara and you did not go overboard with the picture of the highway exit someone e-mailed you (the "something else as well" that you were referring to).you did what any mother who lost a child should do.so please don't ever say that.just because the lead didn't take us anywhere doesn't mean you went overboard.would you be saying the same thing if one of those pictures had in fact led us to michaela? it's small clues like these that don't seem so important at the outset, that were missed, that led to Jaycee spending 18 years in captivity.and michaela has been gone even longer - for 23 years now.so there is nothing on earth you could possibly do (with regards to finding michaela) that anybody would ever consider going overboard.and if anyone does, just screw them because they don't know what you have been enduring for the last 23 years.no lead is unimportant or insignificant until michaela comes back home.every lead no matter how big or small should be pursued and investigated till we hit a dead end because we don't want to be kicking ourselves later on for not thoroughly investigating what could have led to michaela a lot sooner.much like what phillip garrido's parole officers are gonna be doing for the rest of their lives.we will never be able to forgive ourselves should we ever find ourselves in such a situation.

    you are one awesome mom sharon.and we are all here with you in bringing michaela back home.so God bless!!!

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  27. Thank you, Chase. I really appreciate that. <3

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  28. hey sharon,i see that you added a small picture of yourself to your profile.nice.i like it.you look great !!!

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  29. Well, I actually started a new blog (about health), and I put the photo on that blog, but I guess they are all connected, because it put it on all my blogs. I'm going to try to put more photographs of Michaela into the blogs themselves, even if I have to repeat them.

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  30. sharon,never open your hand and let go off michaela.because if you do and the day that michaela comes back home and asks you,"did you give up on me mom? did you think i was gone forever,that i wasn't gonna come back at all?" what will you answer? that will hurt a million times more than it hurts right now.so please just hold on tight to that hope even if it seems pointless and never let go.and just remember you are not alone.we are all here with you in bringing michaela back home.

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  31. not that i'm a grammar police or anything but just thought i would mention that there is no such word as "sleuthers".it's just sleuths.sorry.i don't know why i do that.i guess i can't control myself.please don't hate me everybody.

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  32. Actually, it is a word, joyelyn. Try google. It's a colloquial term, and probably has a broader application than the way I use it. Sleuths actually investigate. Sleuthers belong to sleuthing websites, and talk about the investigations but don't actually investigate themselves.

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  33. Hi,

    As a mother my heart goes out to you. I would love to help by pasting a bumper sticker on my car or passing out cards. I believe that my daughter and your children are related on the Garecht side so Michaela's case has always been a bit more personal to me than others - I am always checking in for updates. Anyway, you can email me at 03firefly at gmail.com. As always, I'll be sending out positive thoughts for Michaela and the rest of your family.

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  34. Hi anonymous! If you would like a bumper sticker, you need to send me an e-mail at sharon.murch@gmail.com. I keep all the requests in a folder there. Otherwise I would never be able to keep them organized.

    Thanks for your good wishes.

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  35. Sorry! I should have read through the blog better to find that information. Thanks.

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