CLEVELAND - It was nine years ago, Louwana Miller, with tears in her eyes, walked along the sidewalk outside her house, running her fingers through the many yellow ribbons that were tied to the fence enclosing the property. It was Mother's Day 2004, and her daughter, Amanda Berry, had been missing for about 370 days at that time.
"It's getting harder because after so long you don't," said Miller, her voice trailing off as she did not finish the sentence she had begun. Then she picked up her thought again. "You want to believe she's going to come home, but then, again, there's no leads, no clues," she said through the flow of tears that streamed down her face.
The agony was apparent in the Mother's Day interview. Louwana Miller died two years later, without ever learning the fate of her daughter, who, a few days ago, escaped her captivity and bolted to freedom from the Cleveland west side house where she had been held captive since her abduction 10 years ago.
Amanda was welcomed home amid a police escort, large crowd, balloons and signs, but it was not to where her mother had lived. Amanda went home to be with her sister, Beth Serrano. This Mother's Day, Amanda no doubt will think of her mother who never gave up hope and who prayed throughout each day for the safe return of her daughter, who had been abducted in 2003 as she left her job at a Burger King restaurant on Cleveland's Lorain Avenue.
As for Nancy Ruiz, her Mother's Day will be with her long-lost daughter, who has returned. There are celebrations for the return of all the women who had been missing.
For Nancy Ruiz, this Mother's Day may be the most significant one of her life. She has lived to see her daughter, Gina DeJesus, find freedom as she, too, was rescued from captivity in a house owned by Ariel Castro, whom police said kept the two women, and a third, Michelle Knight, and a child he fathered through the rape of Amanda.
Not far from where Amanda returned, Nancy Ruiz celebrated the return of her daughter, Gina. As with Amanda's homecoming, there were throngs lining the sidewalk to welcome home Gina. Her mother embraced her, as did her father, Felix DeJesus. Her mother made reference to Mother's Day. Though there will be much therapy needed for the families, there is still celebration. A daughter has returned home. For any mother, that alone, must be celebration in itself.
"The only thing I did was grab her and hug her," said Ruiz to a crowd of well-wishers which applauded her every statement. "I didn't want to let go," she smiled. "I still feel it is a dream."
Dreams can come true. A few days before Mother's Day, these did.