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"I feel triumphant!"
Those were the words Elizabeth spoke the day she took us to see the campsite where she had been held captive. It was amazing to be there with her and to witness her feeling that she had conquered Mitchell and Barzee. Ed and Elizabeth have gone jogging together several times after she returned home. Sometimes they run up one of the canyons behind our home-in the hills where Elizabeth was held. We thought that maybe, someday, she'd want to take us there, but we never expected to have Elizabeth, just a couple of weeks after coming home, want to show us where she was held captive. When Elizabeth came home it was like having a newborn baby, so to speak, since we worried about her all the time. We thought the visit to the campsite would set her back-that she wouldn't be able to deal with it. We gave her plenty of opportunity to bow out-but it was important to Elizabeth that we see the site. She was adamant. She wanted to go. "I want to do it now," she said.
Everyone in the family except William and Edward hiked up the trail together. Elizabeth marched up that hill as if she were headed to battle. We arrived, and she showed us everything: "This is the place we hid our shoes. This is where we got water. This is where I lived." We were stunned at the calm and secure way that Elizabeth spoke. She explained that she, Brian, and Wanda had moved between two campsites. The upper site is where she was for the Wrst two months. Then, Brian moved them to a lower campsite. He obviously felt safe with what he was doing by the time they moved to the lower camp. It had been two months and nobody had found them. It is so unbelievable that thousands of searchers were looking for Elizabeth-any sign of her-and no one found her. Elizabeth has said that Brian constantly reinforced that it was God's will that no one would catch him, that God had told him to take Elizabeth. When we stood at the site, Elizabeth was free-free to do and say whatever she wanted.
It was liberating and cathartic. More crucial to her was to prove that Brian and Wanda did not own her. There were no tears-she certainly didn't show any anguish about being there. It was like a cleansing for her. It is part of the healing. For us, it was bewildering. We didn't know what to expect. It was horrifying seeing the conditions she had to live under. On the other hand, it was glorious to see our daughter hold her head up in victory-to see her in control, knowing that she was a survivor in every sense of the word.
It was a continuation of the rebirth of Elizabeth Ann Smart.
Today, Elizabeth is trying to get back to normal. She is so looking forward to getting her driver's license. She is now sixteen years old. It has been a year and a half since she was kidnapped. Life has changed for all of us. But Elizabeth is reconnecting with her friends-trying to catch up on the year she missed out on in their lives. She's not allowed to date until she's sixteen, which means by the time you read this book, our daughter will most likely be driving and dating-yikes! She's right on target-doing the things she ought to be doing. She goes out with her friends, which is sometimes hard for us, but we want life to be sweet for her. She started school in the fall, and is adjusting well to being back in the swing of things.