Monday, July 6, 2015

Words and feelings

It is 6:30 in the morning on my day off work, and I am here, awake. I have a lot of feelings inside me and I am sitting here with tears in my throat and in my eyes, longing just to be able to write my feelings down and push them off into the world. Like the words from the Anna Nalick song, "2 a.m. and I'm still awake, writing a song. If I get it all down on paper it's no longer inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to." But maybe I just really don't have the courage. One day I swear I am going to write my novel so I can say all the things I cannot say, turn loose all the feelings inside of me.

Half of the feelings I feel are vapors in the wind anyway. As I sat here at my desk, I watched a cloud outside my window. For a moment it was the stunningly clear face of a pitbull terrier. But in seconds it morphed, first into a kitty, and then on to several indistinct stages on its way to becoming the blank cloudbank that it is at this moment. And that happens so often with problems. You have a dagger in the heart, but then it dissolves and is gone, unless you happened to put it into writing or other communication where it becomes immortalized, or kind of. For me, writing and getting things out is cathartic, but the problem is that when you get things outside yourself sometimes they take up residence in others, and become things totally other, and totally beyond your control at all. Things that are minor can come to define you.

The other thing about writing is that often it helps me to figure out just exactly what it is that is hurting. Like right now. The immediate cause of my distress is that my daughter, who is 18 weeks pregnant, was experiencing anxiety this morning at 4-something. I woke up. Presumably she has gone to sleep and I am still awake. This anxiety, this problem, will probably dissolve when the winds shift. But in me it stirs something far deeper. Whether large or small, my child is suffering, and I am powerless to alleviate the suffering. I can, and do, talk my head off in an attempt to fix things, but honestly sometimes I know that just makes it worse. That's the other dangerous thing about words. For some reason the same words can mean completely different things to other people. She is anxious, so in an attempt to alleviate the anxiety, I employ the analytical mode, trying to explain why the problem is not quite as bad as it feels, and/or how to avoid problems in the future. This works well for me, but my daughter is in emotional mode, and she absorbs those words completely differently, internalizes them as criticism, which they are not intended to be.

Emotions. Sometimes you just have to get control of them. I remember in the second year after Michaela was kidnapped, I just felt angry, and it finally dawned on me that my anger was nothing more than sorrow that I had turned inside out and thrown outside myself because that was easier than feeling the sorrow. That was a big thing. But the same thing happens with the little things. We feel pierced by that dagger, which would probably dissolve in a minute, an hour, a day, unless we let that sorrow become anger and let it out into the world where it will inevitably cause more hurt. I personally have counted the cost and decided it is not worth it. That means I end up with a lot of feelings that get bottled up inside. Perhaps I need to find another means to transform and express them, through something more positive than getting angry. There are a lot of things that never ever get resolved, because I don't speak of them. In the end I guess I don't trust that they would get resolved if I did.

This child, the one whose anxiety woke me in the early hours today, was born five years after Michaela was kidnapped. One of my strong memories is from when she was a little baby, and she was crying. I picked her up and held her and said, "It's okay. Mommy is here. Mommy will take care of you." I was reassuring her from my heart with every intention of making everything right, of keeping her safe and protected and not letting anything hurt her. But in that moment I was flooded with the knowledge of the truth, that this was a lie. It was a promise I could not make. I had said the same sort of thing to Michaela, but in the end I had not been able to protect her. She suffered the most brutal fear, grief and pain, and there was not a single goddamned frickin thing I was able to do to prevent that, or to save her from it once she was in its clutches. I completely and totally failed her.

And I have completely and totally failed all my children. It hasn't been as dramatic as it has been with Michaela. The daggers that have pierced them have been the kind that mostly dissolve in time. But they have all suffered grief and sorrow, and there is not anything I can do about it. I have made midnight trips to the grocery store for chocolate, taken them for manicures, sat and listened, hugged and cried. But the only way I could actually have prevented my children from being hurt was if I had taught them not to love. Jobs, money, those things all can cause stress, but only love can pierce the heart, and it can pierce deep and hard and leave shards that don't ever completely go away. I know, because I have them myself.

My daughter and her husband, they are happy and excited about the baby they are having. But they have feelings inside them that perhaps they don't even understand. Do they understand the huge vulnerability they are being drawn into? They are both smart kids, and they are both very self-aware, smart, imaginative and creative, so maybe they do. Or maybe it is just a vague sense of unease. I know that as they have thought about their child, they have been drawn to look back on their own childhoods. In doing so, they have encountered the things that hurt them. They think, they hope, that these things will be different for their child, that their son won't encounter the cruelty of other kids, for example. But somewhere deep inside, as they consider their own hurts, they may be coming to realize that those things are going to hurt even more if they happen to their child than they did when they happened to them. I looked it up this morning, that quote that I just kind of know. I discovered it has a source, author Elizabeth Stone. It is, "Making the decision to have a child -- it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."

Well, I guess I am kind of placing my own thing into other people's minds here. I think it is valid to a point. But really it's my own point. For me, it is magnified, because it triggers that deep sorrow of not being able to save Michaela from suffering. But the fact is, I can't save any of my children. I can't make any of them happy. I can't protect any of them from hurt. I can just hope that they have the emotional wisdom to live well.

To you, Michaela, I just want to say that am so sorry that I was not able to protect you from harm, that I was not able to save you. Wherever you have been, whatever you have been through, I just hope that you have been able to feel always that love that is beyond life and death, there in your heart, forever.

mom

21 comments:

  1. Sharon, from my perspective where I am in my life now, it appears to me that you haven't let any of your children down. I say that not as platitude but because my mother never hugged me, never cried with me (although she made me cry), and certainly never did a midnight run for chocolate! She did not protect me from harm, in fact she offered me up to it.
    My mother has chosen not to see me for the last 23 years. I read your words and it both fills and hurts my heart that for almost 27 years you have not wavered in your love for Michaela. I wish I'd experienced that kind of love. You are always in each others' hearts. x

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    1. I am so sorry Leanne. That is beyond my comprehension, but I hope you have found peace....

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    2. Hello Sharon,

      With the recent kidnapping of Maddy in Santa Cruz, the day it happened the first person I thought of was Michaela. I grew up in Union City. I'm 2 years older than Michaela. When the incident happened with your daughter it weighed in on my heart deeply. My aunt use to live next door to you in Hayward when you lived in the apts on Gresel. I remember your oldest son and use to run around the apts with him and his friends on occasion. I remember often my aunt stating how great of a person you were and a very cautious yet an amazing mother to your kids. I'm glad to see you are gonna be a grandma again. I hope Alex is doing well as well as your daughters. I often check the media on Michaela just to see if there has been any progress in her case. When the whole situation went down with Jaycee and Phillip Garrido I had a bit of hope that just maybe he would be linked to Michaela and that finally there would be answers, possibly closure. Although I never met her, she is apart of my heart as well as you.

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  2. Well maybe you are not able to do those things for your children, keep them safe or make them happy and all the things you wrote there, but I think that your love for them is all that they can ask from you. I've seen that this blog you keep bursts motherly love not only for Michaela but for your other kids as well.

    Going to buy chocolate at midnight, hugging your children, crying for them... means you have been there for them, no matter what it has been about, the Michaela thing or something else. Not more could a mom love their kids. I can hardly imagine stronger love. You may think that you have failed your promises to them, but at least you are THERE. And it is a lot better than a mother of how many who isn't.

    I believe moms fail their kids by promising them to always be there for them, but then they choose not to be. I believe you have done and keep doing the best you can. For Michaela and for your other kids. You couldn't save Michaela, but nobody could. But you are keeping her memory safe here, telling her how much you love her blog after blog. How many mothers of missing children keep a blog for that matter? And you are still looking for her, and will never stop. You love, you care and you do your very best to find your daughter after 26 years. And no one could ever demand more.

    Emilia

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    1. Thank you. Your kindess, and your statement about "keeping her memory safe here" brought me to tears.

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    2. You are welcome. Tears of joy this time, I hope!

      Emilia

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  3. Dear Sharon

    I wonder if you know how much you help all of us out there, with your wise words and truly amazing insights? One day when Michaela is found, I hope you will continue writing your blogs. You mean so much to so many. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you. That means a lot, because I don't know that everybody agrees with you.... And if I ever help anybody in any way, it is Michaela who is really helping, and that means even more to me.

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  4. Sharon In case you haven't heard the news. Today the police charged a man with the murder of the Lyon sisters who disappeared 40 years ago! NO bodies have been found but they do know the girls were murdered. The FBI is looking at the guy thinking he has kidnapped other little girls. He is in prison in Delaware for molesting a child. Lloyd Welch was a carnival worker and traveled the country back in the 70s and 80s. Don't know if there is any connection to Michaela but its a shot. He did have fox like eyes, long hair and acne. The girls parents can finally have some closure. Just thought I would pass this along.

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    1. Thanks. I forwarded the information to our investigator to look into.

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  5. I whole heartedly agree with the above poster! I would miss your blogs terribly if you stopped. I love your depth and your honesty. All of us mothers can relate so much to what you say. And just so you're aware, Sharon - Michaela helps me every single day. I have a bit of a short temper, particularly with my daughter, who happens to be nine. When I start getting irritated with her, I think of you and Michaela. It changes my heart immediately and I believe it makes me a better mother. <3 I sure hope that helps you in some way.
    As always, hugs and prayers from Michigan!
    Becki

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  6. Hello Sharon, I am writing from Chile, far away from you, but the story of Michaela touched my heart years ago. I always look for any update on this case, I also read about Sheila and Katherine Lyon, I hope this give you some strenght and I know someday, somehow you will finally find peace in your heart. Don't be so hard with you, everything that could be done, you have done it. I send you a big and loving hug, my best wishes go to you!

    Sorry for my bad english, btw, but I really wanted to (express myself even though Im so far from you.)

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    1. Thanks you, and I wish my Spanish was as good as your English!

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  7. You are a good mom. What matters is that you've always done your best to be there for your kids when they needed you. Nobody has control over all of life's variables, we just do our best.

    The fact that you suffered an unspeakably horrible tragedy and still managed to parent your other children well, speaks volumes.

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  8. Dear Sharon,

    Have you seen this? It's an article about the story you dedicate to your Sweet Michaela. You can also find a link there to his site where he reads the story out loud, with lots of pep and energy!

    Laura

    Sorry I couldn't find the link, but if you want you can highlight, cut, and paste :)

    http://www.countryliving.com/life/a36003/real-meaning-behind-love-you-forever-book/?src=spr_FBPAGE&spr_id=1453_212505525

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  9. I just want to say that Michaela knows how loved she is. Your compassionate heart transcends time and space and reaches your precious daughter. That bond of love is never broken. Sincerely, Barbara G

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  10. Thinking about you and Michaela.
    SR Mom

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  11. Sharon, I purchased the new book with your letter to Michaela. You have written a beautiful letter to her. I am sure she feels your love every day perhaps in a way unknown to anyone.

    Love,
    Radhika

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  12. Hi Sharon,

    We haven't heard from you in a while. I hope you are doing alright and that we hear good news about Michaela soon! You are all in my thoughts!

    Love,

    Brie

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  13. 4 months with no posts?

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