NORTON SHORES, Mich. (WOOD) - As Jessica Heeringa's grandmother stood on Friday near the family's makeshift command center -- not far from the gas station where Jessica was last seen -- a Michigan State Police helicopter flew over.
"My heart skips a beat," grandmother Diane Homrich said.
Just like Thursday, when it flew over, headed to PJ Hoffmaster State Park on what turned out to be a fruitless search.
Homrich knows this is necessary, but she also knows what it might mean.
"On one hand, you want them to find something and, on the other hand, you don't, so our emotions are on a roller coaster up and down," she said.
In Friday's case, the chopper was just in the area, not on a particular mission, police said. Jessica's family has kept a vigil in a parking lot near the Exxon station every day in the week since she disappeared.
It's a place where "hope" is the most important word. "It's hard not to get discouraged," Homrich said.
But when that happens, up walks a stranger.
They've brought flowers, lots of food, bottled water, a quilt and teddy bears for Jessica's 3-year-old son, Zevyn.
"A woman came up to me late last night and she said, 'I'm a grandma, too,' and she wanted to give me a hug,
and then she said, 'Here, I brought you a guardian angel.'"
It's a little pin she wears on a t-shirt that has her granddaughter's face on it. Just the other day, at a vigil, a young girl gave 4 four-leaf clovers to Jessica's fiance, who now keeps them in a small bottle on a necklace. Then, there are those, who just stop to bring comfort.
"Some people just stop and give us a hug and a kiss and ask how we're doing," Homrich said.
Some volunteers have told the family they're ready to help with ground searches -- wherever they might be. But to Jessica's family, that's almost admitting she's not coming back.
"We as a family are not ready to do that," Homrich said. "We don't want to give up on the hope that she will come back. My family and I believe she's still in the area, and don't ask us why, it's just a gut feeling. And, with the community support, how could we not stay out here?"
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