It was this anniversary that brought me down more than any other, even the tenth. Why? It was a combination of things yet the most traumatic was a simple truth that stood out on the actual date, and the weeks prior to, and after. Heidi was eighteen years old when she disappeared, she now was missing the same number of years she was safe, alive, and with us. This was a difficult concept and truth to accept. I spent a lot of time reflecting on the milestones she missed, the memories that never came to be, and how something so tragic happens in little ol' New Haven, New York to such a vibrant, young, and joyful girl.
I spent too many hours to log reading every newspaper article, letter to the editor, and clipping about Heidi, her case, the trials, and the anniversaries that followed. Why did I step into a time capsule of journalistic opinions and facts? The answer may be simple to some while novel to others. Grief plays a intriguing game with the mind, and our brain accepts, disregards, modifies, adjusts, and buries different things to help us survive.
To bury our feelings and left them undealt with, is not healthy, and I don't recommend it. I wasted a decade wasting time and missing opportunities to make memories because I was stuck and held captive by the thoughts, lies, and misunderstandings of the years prior. I share in more detail about this in Where's Heidi? One Sister's Journey, and even then, there are important scenes and aspects missing. Hence the reason for the sequel.
Before you ask, no I don't have a release date - I'm working through this book in God's time and while maintaining connection with the real world. To write Where's Heidi? in three years required me secluding myself from most family and friends in order to deal with the buried junk, work with editors, and develop the best representation of truth and hope for you to read.
I talked with a fellow sister of a missing yesterday and she said "You seem to have it together better than I.". I assured her I don't have it all together yet I know Who to lean on for strength, guidance, and hope. As I thought about it last night, in comparison to 2004, I have it together. Compared to 2012, I feel more unraveled. I miss my sister so much. Scanning photographs for the Community Gathering of Hope, making the flyer, talking with the pastors, with all of you, and then the encouraging words from readers old and new...my emotions are on overload.
There is a part of me that thinks a day home crying into my oatmeal would solve the problem and alleviate the stress but this is foolish thinking. Hiding doesn't help, it only prolongs, represses, and prevents healing and moving forward. God didn't create, design, and restore me to fall back into a pit. Check out Psalm 139 if you don't believe me - it's a beautiful chapter in the Book of Psalms, in the Old Testament. I tried to share my favorite verses but couldn't narrow it down to a few.
I won't lie to you - I've cried every day on my way to school, on my way home, in the shower, sitting on the couch, at work, and just about anywhere my thoughts take over my mind. Twenty years and I miss my sister as much today as I did on April 3, 1994. I write, speak, blog, research, plan, prepare, and share to keep her memory alive and let others know that when the tearful, tough, and unavoidable days of pain come - God is there to hold me, and you, up in a way only God can.
Make memories. Make amends. We don't know what tomorrow brings but if we live today to the fullest and make memories with those we love and care about, with God leading the way...all will be good.