A LEGACY FOR THE TWINS?
There is a wealth of misinformation in Kate McCann’s book “Madeleine” that a further book could be written refuting what she has penned. The dumbing down of the efforts of the Portuguese police in their search for the truth of what happened to her daughter, the name-dropping of the rich and famous who leapt forward with assistance, and the emphasis on her own mental anguish while disregarding the needs of others, are but three areas where criticism might perhaps be made. Not to mention the numerous examples of ‘re-writing’ history to suit her narrative, as comparison with the witness statements from the PJ files makes abundantly clear. However, this post takes a look at her book from the viewpoint of its role as a legacy for Madeleine’s brother and sister – for legacy it is, and was, intended to be.
Obviously, such an exercise will be labelled as ‘cherry-picking’ by some, but so be it, and it is true that only certain of Kate’s writings have been chosen for inclusion. Chosen for the underlying unspoken message that they give rather than their literal meaning.
FROM THE INTRODUCTION
Kate writes: “My reason for writing it is simple: to give an account of the truth. It has always been my intention to set down a complete record of what happened to our family, for our children, Madeleine, Sean and Amelie, so that, when they are ready, the facts will be there for them to read. I wanted to make sure they would always have access to a written chronicle of what really happened, no matter how many years have passed.
………….. My biggest worry has undoubtedly been invading the privacy of our children. My account obviously exposes them, to a certain extent, as well as Gerry and myself. Later in their lives they may feel I have made public information they would prefer had been kept private. My instinct tells me, however, that it will be far more important to Sean and Amelie to know that their mum and dad have left no stone unturned in their efforts to find their big sister, and if that has included publishing a book, I’m sure they will understand and accept that necessity. And I have no doubt that Madeleine, too, would feel the same way. …….
………. What tipped the balance in our decision is the continuing need to fund the search for Madeleine.
ARRIVAL - THE FAMILY HOLIDAY IN PRAIA DA LUZ
…….. Glass sliding patio doors gave out on to a veranda, with a flight of steps down to a little gate at the side of the building. At the top of the stairs there was a child safety gate. After the first couple of days we barely used the front door, coming and going through the patio doors and up and down the steps.
……. On our arrival we had lowered the blind-style shutters on the outside of the windows, which were controlled from the inside, and closed the curtains. We left them that way all week.
……. We’d collect the children between twelve and twelve-thirty and return to the flat for lunch and tales from the kids’ clubs. Afterwards we would often call in on the others at David and Fiona’s apartment or pop down to the play area for a while. Most afternoons the children went back to their clubs, while we played tennis, went for a run or read and chatted by the pool. We’d usually meet up with the children and nannies for tea, along with the rest of our friends, and then it was off to the play area again for some fun and a good run-around before the kids’ bedtime.
THURSDAY 3RD MAY
……. We helped Sean and Amelie give their big sister a ‘night-night’ kiss before laying them in their adjacent travel cots. Then we kissed the twins, and kissed Madeleine, already snuggled down with her ‘princess’ blanket and Cuddle Cat – a soft toy she’d been given soon after she was born and never went to bed without. We were in no doubt that all three would be asleep in an instant. As always, we left the door a few inches open to allow a glimmer of light into the room.
…………Just after 8.30pm, Gerry checked on the children and then we left for the Tapas restaurant. We exited via the patio doors at the back, facing the restaurant and pool area, just as we had done the previous three nights. There was a lamp on in the sitting room. The long curtains on the inside of the glass doors were drawn and the doors themselves closed but not locked. We shut behind us both the child safety gate at the top of the short flight of steps and the gate at the bottom, as we always did. We headed straight to the restaurant without seeing anyone else.
AFTER THE ‘ABDUCTION’
……. I wandered into the children’s bedroom several times to check on Sean and Amelie. They were both lying on their fronts in a kind of crouch, with their heads turned sideways and their knees tucked under their tummies. In spite of the noise and lights and general pandemonium, they hadn’t stirred. They’d always been sound sleepers, but this seemed unnatural. Scared for them, too, I placed the palms of my hands on their backs to check for chest movement, basically, for some sign of life. Had Madeleine been given some kind of sedative to keep her quiet? Had the twins, too?
……. Friday 4th May. Our first day without Madeleine. As soon as it was light Gerry and I resumed our search. We went up and down roads we’d never seen before, having barely left the Ocean Club complex all week. We jumped over walls and raked through undergrowth. We looked in ditches and holes. All was quiet apart from the sound of barking dogs, which added to the eeriness of the atmosphere. I remember opening a big dumpster-type bin and saying to myself, please God, don’t let her be in here. The most striking and horrific thing about all this was that we were completely alone. Nobody else, it seemed, was out looking for Madeleine. Just us, her parents. We must have been out for at least an hour before returning to David and Fiona’s apartment, where Sean and Amelie were now up and about.
……. For the first time I noticed the ugly purple, blue and black bruises on the sides of my hands, wrists and forearms. I was shocked. Gerry reminded me of how I’d been banging my clenched fists on the veranda railing and the apartment walls the night before. I could only vaguely remember it.
……. The frustration and anger were reaching boiling point. I felt like a caged, demented animal. This was, without doubt, torture of the cruellest kind. Finally, I erupted. I began to scream, swear and lash out. I kicked an extra bed that had been brought into the apartment and smashed the end right off it. Then came the inevitable tears. Prostrate on the floor, sobbing like a baby, I felt utterly defeated and broken.
……. Neither Amelie nor Sean had yet mentioned Madeleine, or at least, not that we had heard. It was a relief in many ways as I’m really not sure how we could or would have handled any questions at that point. With their friends around them and their grandparents there, perhaps they didn’t have much of a chance to fully register her absence. There were few blessings to be counted in these terrible circumstances but perhaps one was the fact that they were too young to be properly aware of what was happening. I think it was the next day before Sean first asked me, ‘Where’s Madeleine, Mummy?’
……. The twins would continue to go to Toddler Club in the mornings (and on the odd afternoon, too, in those early days). While we wanted to keep life as ‘normal’ as possible for them we were well aware, of course, that it wasn’t normal, and neither could it be. Gerry and I saw much less of them than would normally have been the case. When we did, we tried to make it up to them by giving them proper quality time with lots of cuddles. For a while we were in too much of a mess to cook their meals or even to bath them. Every minute of every day would be eaten up by anxiety about Madeleine and our efforts to find her.
……. I remember slumping on one of the dining chairs in the apartment, looking out through the window over the sea. I had an overwhelming urge to swim out across the ocean, as hard and as fast as I could; to swim and swim and swim until I was so far out and so exhausted I could just allow the water to pull me under and relieve me of this torment. I wasn’t keeping that desire to myself, either. I was shouting it out to anyone who happened to be in the room. Both this urge and the expression of it were, I suppose, an outlet for the crucifying anguish.
……. I also felt a compulsion to run up to the top of the Rocha Negra. Somehow, inflicting physical pain on myself seemed to be the only possible way of escaping my internal pain. The other truly awful manifestation of what I was feeling was a macabre slideshow of vivid pictures in my brain that taunted me relentlessly. I was crying out that I could see Madeleine lying, cold and mottled, on a big grey stone slab. Looking back, seeing me like this must have been terrible for my friends and relatives, and particularly my parents, but I couldn’t help myself. And all this needed to come out. I dread to think what it might have done to me if it hadn’t.
……. I asked Gerry apprehensively if he’d had any really horrible thoughts or visions of Madeleine. He nodded. Haltingly, I told him about the awful pictures that scrolled through my head of her body, her perfect little genitals torn apart. Although I knew I had to share this burden, just raising the subject out loud to someone else, even Gerry, was excruciating. Admitting the existence of these images somehow confirmed them as a real possibility, and with that confirmation came renewed waves of fear.
……. In mid-July I found Amelie standing in our room, looking at a photo of Madeleine in a frame by my bedside. ‘I miss my sister,’ she said, quite clearly. ‘Where has my sister gone?’ I was caught completely unawares. I realized I’d underestimated both her grasp of the situation and the scope of her vocabulary.
……. Maternal guilt often weighed heavily on my shoulders. The twins needed our love. They needed us. The capacity to love is limitless, I was often told, but I was so engulfed by Madeleine that I worried I might not have enough love left over for Sean and Amelie. Something else to beat myself up about. And not only did they need us, we needed them. Their love and laughter was the best medicine we could have asked for and we’ll be eternally grateful for that, and for them.
……. Leaving Sean and Amelie behind in Portugal a few hours later was even worse. I just wanted to cling to them for ever. We faced a dilemma several times as we travelled abroad in the weeks to come. Could we take them? What would be fairer on them? I have no doubt that we did the right thing. It would have been nice for us to have the twins with us, their comforting cuddles on tap, but it would have been selfish. Being shuffled from meeting to meeting, buffeted by crowds and dazzled by flashbulbs, was never going to be fun for them. In Praia da Luz they were in the care of loving family and friends and could play in comfortable surroundings to their hearts’ content. There was no contest, really, not for a pair of two-year-olds.
……. At bedtime one evening while Gerry was in the States, Amelie said to me in a small voice, ‘Daddy at work. Mummy not going to work. Mummy not going anywhere. Mummy stay here.’ There was a gulp from Mummy. Remembering now the uncertainty, unpredictability and chaos of our lives then, all the people coming and going, some of whom we knew and some of whom we didn’t, brings it home to me just how unsettling and frightening this whole experience might have been for Sean and Amelie, in spite of their resilience.
……. Each time a dog gave a signal, Ricardo would pause the video and inform me that blood had been found in this site and that the DNA from the sample matched Madeleine’s. He would stare at me intently and ask me to explain this. These were the only times I didn’t respond with a ‘No comment.’ Instead I said I couldn’t explain it, but neither could he. I remember feeling such disdain for Ricardo at this point. What was he doing? I thought. Just following orders? Under my breath, I found myself whispering, ‘Fucking tosser, fucking tosser.’ This quiet chant somehow kept me strong, kept me in control. This man did not deserve my respect. ‘Fucking tosser.
……. In the meantime, the search for Madeleine goes on. Sean and Amelie often talk about how their sister might escape, how we could rescue her and what they would do to the ‘naughty man’ who stole her. Once they suggested, ‘Maybe we should tell the police that Madeleine is missing and ask them to help us, too.’ Quite.
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