Madeleine McCann's mother Kate speaks to marieclaire.co.uk about her hopes, fears and why she can't give up the dream of finding her missing daughter
Madeleine McCann: a household name today, for all the wrong reasons. Now missing for 94 days, her smiling face still stares down at us from billboards, in cinemas ads and even on the back of taxi receipts, although the 24-hour media snowstorm has subsided and the hoards of journalists camped out in Praia de Luz are all but gone. ‘Slowly, one by one, they’re going home,’ Kate, Madeleine’s mother, admitted this week.
That truth is bittersweet. For Madeleine’s tragic family, the media has been crucial in keeping their daughter’s disappearance in the public eye, but our insatiable appetite for news is yet another exhausting burden they have been forced to bear over the past few months.
Kate still insists she won’t be following the press pack home until Madeleine is safe back by her side. ‘I’ve said all along, I feel closer to Madeleine here, I feel closer to the investigation,’ she told us. ‘The thought of going back to our happy family home is quite daunting. There probably are benefits to being at home, but at the moment I have to go with my gut feeling.’
Speaking to Kate is a slightly unnerving experience. This poised, elegant woman who has kept her nerve in the face of unimaginable horror, but who refuses to have her self-belief broken. ‘There’s no doubt we have some very low times,’ she concedes. ‘The hope is still there. We’re still trying very much to be positive. We have to keep going for us and for the twins. And also for Madeline.’
But while she hopes, she also can’t forget: ‘I don’t think it’s easy to switch off 100% from the situation that’s for sure. There’s always something hanging there. That little heaviness. Even when we’re having fun with the twins I can’t help thinking, how lovely it would be if Madeleine were there. If the three of them were playing together.’
‘We have some better days and some not-so-good days. I guess it’s dealing with it as it comes.’
Despite tabloid reports last weekend of ‘Cracker-style detectives’ flying over from the UK to Portugal (untrue as it turns out) and a reported sighting of the four-year-old in Belgium during the week, there has yet to be any significant breakthrough in the McCann case. It’s a hard fact for Kate and her family to take.
‘I do have days when I can’t stop thinking about the situation and I feel so incredibly frustrated. A day goes by, a week goes by, a month goes by. We know somebody knows something,’ she points out.
Despite the frustration, however, she won’t hear a word against the Portuguese authorities: ‘We actually have a really good relationship with them. They listen to our suggestions as well, which is really kind, because they don’t have to, we’re not detectives! And they’re willing to accept help from people who have offered. I’m really happy with the way things are going.’
Happy, of course, being a relative word. When I ask her about her relationship with husband Gerry, and how the past few months has affected them, she starts to say how lucky she is to have him, but breaks stride to admit, ‘Actually, I feel like I’m the unluckiest person on the planet at the minute.’
‘We are very lucky that we have a very strong relationship,’ she continues. ‘We always have had. We always talk a lot and it’s even more important now that we do that. We’ve got different strengths I guess. We’ve been able to work together and pull each other through at different times.’
Finally, before we finish and Kate moves on to the next of many interviews scheduled for her day, there’s time for one more heartbreaking admission. ‘I hope you all get to meet Madeleine one day soon.’
For the latest news from the McCann family, visit www.bringmadeleinehome.com. International Crimestoppers can be contacted on 0044 18 83 73 13 36, Crimestoppers in the UK on 0800 555 111 or the Portuguese police on 00351 282 405 400.