|Introducing Jamie and Libby, as husband and wife.|
I just returned late last night from Libby's wedding. Libby moved to Oregon several years ago, after she met Jamie, the love of her life. I was heartbroken when she left to go so far away, of course, but it also gave my heart rest, because I knew she would be happy. I knew Jamie would love her and take care of her, and I knew she loved him. And that is what is important. That is how children should leave home, to go off to join someone they love, or to go on their own adventures. The sorrow of losing them is always overwhelmed by the joy in knowing that they are happy. It should never be as it was with you, Michaela. It should never be that a child is stolen from her home.
|Your baby sister, the one who used to|
follow you around everywhere!
I have told you that you are always present in our hearts at holidays and special occasions, Michaela. And next to me, Libby is probably the one who keeps you closest in her heart. So you were definitely there. But you ended up being there in conversation as well.
The hotel we stayed at had a breakfast room where Jeff, your stepdad, and I went every morning for waffles. Waffles are not something I usually eat. I don't have a waffle maker, and I never order them when I go out to breakfast, but man were these good!
Anyway, one morning a man walked in carrying his three year old daughter. She had just woken up, still sleepy eyed, hair tousled, wearing Peppa Pig pajamas, carrying a well loved baby doll. She was just adorable. Later her grandpa came down and joined them, along with an older sister. We got to talking to the dad and the grandpa, and somehow the conversation turned to the fact that the dad had lost one daughter, who had been in between the two who were with him. I think when we said we were from the San Francisco Bay Area, he mentioned that his daughter had been treated at a hospital there. She had a cancer in the brain stem. The doctors had finally said there was nothing more they could do for her, and sent her home with her parents. She died when she was three years old. The grandpa also had lost two children, both before the age of one, from a congenital condition that made them unable to breathe properly.
And of course, I told them about you. They could not imagine how terrible it was for you never to have been found, and I could not imagine how terrible it was to watch your child suffer and die day by day. They mentioned someone they knew whose daughter had been missing a long time, and how she couldn't let it go, and I told them, well you can't. I know, I said, that the odds are that my daughter is no longer alive, but until I know that for sure, I have to keep looking, keep reaching out, because if she is alive, she needs me. You need me. How would it be, I said, if my daughter did come home one day, and all she could see is that we had given up on her. Missing is still missing, however long it might be, whatever the odds.
I was struck by another thing as we were talking to this dad and grandpa. They looked like such average kind of people, on vacation with the family. They were in town, the dad said, for his brother's 40th birthday. There is a speedboat that goes up and down the Rogue River there, and they'd been on that as a family, on a dinner cruise that stopped halfway back for a dinner, then picked them up and brought them the rest of the way. Sounds like fun, doesn't it, Michaela? But even though these people look as normal as can be, suntanned, healthy, happy, they are not, because each of them carries within them the loss of a child, the loss of a grandchild. And that is an experience that does not leave you the same. You are changed deeply. You grieve, but you cherish more deeply, you love with knowledge of how precious it is, because you know the cost of love. You have paid it with the shredded flesh of your heart.
The grandpa, who had himself lost two children may years ago, asked me, do you ever get to a place where you can be happy again? Oh yes, I said. I have a lot of happiness in my life. These photos here in this blog entry, are photos of my happiness. My children, my grandchildren. This is the thing: their happiness is my happiness. It is equally true that their sorrow is my sorrow, and yet there is still something that all the sorrow in the world cannot eclipse. You, Michaela, still bring me joy. For all the fear and grief I have felt over you and for you, you are joy to me, my daughter, my first child, the first baby I held in my arms, the one who taught me to be a mommy.
It does my heart good to see my children happy. I enjoyed Libby's wedding very much. Her husband, Jamie, is a wonderful guy, and as beautiful as Libby looked in her dress, I think that the thing that touched me most at the wedding was the look on Jamie's face as he took my daughter to be his wife. But the joy of the very existence of my children just cannot be destroyed, even in the saddest and most difficult of circumstances.
Wherever you are, Michaela, I pray you have found happiness. If you have passed from this life, I know you have found peace. If you are still here, perhaps still you have found joy in life wherever you are. Do you have children? I would love to hear about it. And if you have found no happiness, it is never too late. You can't wait for rescue, my child. The world is so large, and your case is so huge with so many leads, finding you would be like finding a needle in a haystack. But you can break free, somehow. If you are in this country, call 911 and tell them, "I am Michaela Garecht and I was kidnapped from Hayward, California, in 1988." If you are in another country, contact the U.S. Embassy there, go to a women's shelter, go to the local police, and tell them this.
I just want you to know that I love you forever, baby girl. Nothing will ever change that. You are always welcome here, no matter what. You are always a joy to me.