Well, I'm feeling a bit like shaking this up. There are many things I know and kind of keep under wraps for various reasons. My main motivation always is to protect the integrity of the investigation. I almost added "at all costs" at the end of that sentence, but I think that is perhaps part of the issue, and why I have decided to write this particular blog entry.
Those of you who have been reading Dear Michaela for awhile will recall that some time ago I got an e-mail from a man in Russia. And yes it has been confirmed that this e-mail came from Russia. Please don't send me messages all about how locations can be faked, because we know a fair amount about the man who sent it and he is, indeed, in Russia. Anyway, this e-mail said basically, "She is in the UAE. Changed too much for remember." The odd thing is that within the week I received another e-mail from a woman in Washington state, here in the U.S., telling me the same thing. Well, she said she was in that area, and most likely in the UAE.
One of the comments on my last blog asked if there had been any searches for Michaela conducted in the UAE, and the answer is there have not been. I mean, where could we search? It's no small country and it's quite different from the United States. I have learned, for example, that it is illegal to distribute missing flyers in the country, which seems more than a little suspicious in itself. The new age progression of Michaela was done largely for the purpose of distributing it to the U.S. embassies in the area. Again, those who have been long-time readers know that I don't like age progressions, and I don't place much faith in them, but how on earth do you look for someone who has been missing for almost 24 years? I am not sure that distributing photos of her at age nine is going to be helpful. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that distributing age progressions will be much more helpful.
But what's being done? I don't know. This lead was passed to one person, who passed it to another person, and I don't know if anything was done with it at all. I will have to do some more pressing in order to find out. I found at least one organization in the UAE that helps victims of trafficking, and I wrote them an e-mail about Michaela myself, but I never heard back.
Honestly and truly, in my gut I think that if Michaela is alive and out there, the only way she is going to be found is if she contacts us herself. And that is what I continue to hope and pray and strive for.
I do get the occasional visitor to my blog from the UAE. My web tools allow me to get certain limited information about visitors. One of the things I can get is the path that led them to this blog. A visit here from the UAE not too long ago came through a websearch for the term "Michaela Garecht dead." Now this is odd. Who would conduct a search using those terms? Someone who was curious about her case wouldn't do that. They would just search for her name and see what came up.
The person I could see as most likely to use that search term is Michaela herself. It makes complete sense to me for Michaela to do a websearch for the purpose of seeing if we have given up on her. In untold numbers of fiction accounts, the families of the missing decide at some point that they are dead, and they have a memorial service of some sort, and yes, I have heard of that happening in real life as well. And I just want to caution you not to judge the families who do this. This is one hell of a tough row to hoe, and until you have tried living with it, you cannot know. Normally grief goes through its stages and resolves to the point where you can at least live with it. When your child is missing, you are denied that. And as long as your child is missing, you work your heart off, if not your legs, continuing to hope, to pray, to seek. It is a huge emotional burden, very difficult to carry.
So I have been reluctant to say anything about this. First, I just don't want to spook anybody. And second, I don't want to out anybody. So to me, this blog entry is kind of taking a chance. But on my way home from work tonight I just kept thinking about Michaela. I just kept thinking about how everything in life can change in a single instant, about how just as Michaela was snatched away from us in that one frozen moment in time in 1988, in another moment the phone can ring, or I can open an e-mail, and everything can change, a seismic shift that can rearrange the oceans and continents of my existence.
And I thought about this search from someone in the UAE, and I just had to say something. I just wanted to say, Michaela, if that is you, I see you. From the other side of the planet, I see you. There is no distance in time or space that cannot be overcome, because I see you. I hear you through your silence. I feel your fear. But we can overcome. I promise we can.
I guess I should end this blog entry by saying that I know a million and one people will read this and conclude that I am grasping at straws. And hey, I'm perfectly willing to accede to that. But that is what you do when you are searching the earth for a child who has been missing for 24 years. But if you keep on grasping them, who knows but one day you might find a frightened young woman grasping the other end, and perhaps you can tug gently and pull her to safety. And love, so much love.
Michaela, again, and always, I love you forever. There is nothing we cannot overcome.