The story of Madeleine McCann, the little girl kidnapped while on holiday in Portugal, is very much on my mind these days. I feel so, so very sorry for her parents and can only imagine the anguish they are going through. What will it be like to have to get on a plane to fly home if they don't find her? To walk into their home and see her room and her things and not know where she is or, worse, know exactly where she is and what she had to endure. That is, if pedophiles are behind the kidnapping, which it looks like they are.
Many people, my husband included, cannot understand how the McCanns could leave their three young children alone while they went out for a meal. The implication is that they were negligent. My husband said we would never have done that. No, we wouldn't, but I don't think that gives us the right to judge these people. I think the McCanns thought they lived in a different world, a world where people could go on holiday and trust that their children would be safer asleep inside their locked apartment with them only 150 yards away. A world where men don't have such a sick urge to sexually abuse three-year-olds that they will take them away from their safe, happy environments. The fact is it could have happened to the McCanns in their own house. They could have been outside having a drink, thinking their children were safe in bed while someone could have broken in and taken them.
I think we'd all like to believe we exist inside a bubble that no evil outside influences can burst. And then they do.
I remember many years ago, before I had children, the story of a little girl in Wales who had been camping in her back garden with her cousins. She was abducted in the night, and they found her body later on. Turned out the gardener had been spying on them and seized the opportunity. And I think there was a case in Florida where a little girl was taken in the night from her own bed by an interloper who'd broken in through the sliding glass door.
A few weeks ago, my friend R's house was burgled during the three hours during the day that no one was at home. The thieves took the kids' i-pods and my friend's mother's jewelry. My friend's mother died suddenly in December, and this cut her up more than anything. The thought that something so very precious to her was taken away from her by someone who had no respect for its real value. She is a changed person now, no longer trusting that her home is a safe haven.
And Maddy McCann's parents will be changed people forever, no longer trusting in the goodness of this world. Their peace of mind has been taken away from them, never to be returned.