Many days ... most days ... I manage to bury my feelings deep inside. I talk about things but don't really think about what I'm saying. That is the only way I have managed to survive for the last 23 years, as you can imagine. Today, however, reality kept just popping up. I walk discussing your case with someone, and I was talking about the lead that said you are in the UAE. Simple to say, maybe Michaela is in the UAE. But behind that, there is another reality. There was the second part to that lead, which was that you are "changed too much to remember." Then there was the discussion on the web sleuths board in which someone detailed the kind of abuse you would have suffered if you had been alive in those circumstances, and wondered why I would think that was preferable. And the horror of it, the grief and sorrow just filled my heart. Jaycee brought so much hope. Jaycee made me believe that you could be alive and could be okay. But it could be that if you are alive, you are very much not okay, and I cannot stand that thought.
Then on my way home, I drove past the street where we lived when you were born. I do this almost every night, of course. When I started taking this route it really disturbed me, but I do it most of the time now, so I've grown more immune to it. But this evening, I looked down the block and saw the playground they have built there since we moved, and I thought how nice that would have been for you ... and suddenly I could see your little tiny self. I could feel what it felt like to hold you in my arms. I could see your smile and hear your laughter, and all the promise of life you held that was stolen away. And it sliced through me, a searing hot knife. I still, in all these years, have not found the words to describe how this feels, this sense of betrayal of life itself, this wrenching heartache ... the just plain furious anger I feel over this.
I am sorry, Michaela. I am sorry that I wasn't about to keep you safe from this. I am sorry that I wasn't able to find you. I know that every second you waited to be rescued, and I am so, so sorry that I couldn't rescue you. I am so, so sorry, and yet words can never contain what I mean, how I feel.
I love you. I love you forever.