In one day, I went from Caylee's church memorial to the area where her remains were found. I don't recommend it.
Momlogic's Andrea: I lost it on Suburban Drive.
You really can't blame me. I had been running on adrenaline and coffee for the past 48 hours -- flying from LA to Orlando and covering the Caylee Anthony memorial from the crack of dawn to the moment I finally sent my story back to my editor.
And I think I did my job. I observed. I took notes. I'm not saying the ceremony didn't move me. It did. The images of Caylee accompanied by a tear-jerking soundtrack would move anyone with a pulse.
Of course, there were doubts about the Anthonys' motives for staging such an event, but I tried not to judge. After all, George Anthony had asked us not to during the service. I like George. How could I not? He loved Caylee with the same fervor that my dad loves my daughter. Plus, Casey is innocent until proven guilty, right?
With my story finished, it was time for me to visit one last place before I flew out early the next morning. I needed to go to the place Caylee's remains were found, and see the roadside memorial for myself. With a heavy heart, I headed out to Suburban Drive.
It took me forever to find it. Orlando is like one giant super highway with tollbooths. I got lost so many times, I think I traversed the whole state.
Even though it was late, I was expecting a little bit of a crowd. I figured some media and others would still be lingering around from the "renegade memorial" held earlier that day, led by Leonard Padilla.
But by the time I finally got there, it was dark. Pitch dark. And no one was there. As if on cue, a little wind whipped though the trees of the overgrown Chickasaw forest that lined the street.
As I walked over to the massive arrangement of toys, flowers, and cards, I struggled to take it all in. My gaze lingered on a T-shirt emblazoned with Caylee's picture and the words "Missing Child" that was nailed to a tree. There were so, so many stuffed animals, each lovingly placed by someone as moved by the story as I was. I took out my notebook to copy down some of the words written on a giant poster board that was put up that day, but I didn't get very far. Instead of doing my job, I burst into tears -- those hot, heavy tears that take a while to all come out. For the first time, it was real. No longer was I just covering the story, watching it, reading about it. Here I was, alone in the dark where that little girl's remains were found in a trash bag.
I felt sick.
But for some reason, something compelled me to walk deep into that dark forest to see what it was really like when someone dumped that little girl's body like yesterday's garbage. I went in about a hundred feet or so, thinking to myself this was probably not the safest thing for a woman to be doing alone at night. I turned my back away from the pile of Spongebob Squarepants toys, Mickey Mouse balloons, and frilly baby dolls, and walked deeper, trying to imagine what it was like before this roadside tribute was erected.
Standing alone, exhausted and drained, this is what I concluded: Whoever left that little girl alone in this forest, with duct tape on her mouth, is a monster, the personification of evil. A callous and cruel monster. And we all know who that was.
There. I did it. I judged. I'm sorry, Mr. Anthony.