KATE and Gerry McCann opened up their hearts last night to the anguish of living without their daughter, Madeleine, marking 1,000 days since her disappearance.
The couple marked the anniversary with a fundraising event attended by their celebrity supporters and by launching 1,000 glowing paper lanterns into the night skies.
The McCanns admitted that it sometimes felt wrong that they were coping with life without Madeleine -- but added that otherwise there would be no search for the little girl.
In a poignant statement, they said: "Today marks 1,000 days since Madeleine was taken from us. It's hard even to say the number.
"We remember the first few days after Madeleine was taken, watching the clock and counting every hour. Now, we've reached 1,000 days.
"It's difficult sometimes to understand how we've been able to keep going and survive without Madeleine, especially since nothing has changed since that terrifying first night.
"Madeleine is still missing. Sometimes it even feels wrong to be coping. And yet if we weren't, there would be no search and no campaign to find Madeleine and that just doesn't bear thinking about."
Madeleine was nearly four when she disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in southern Portugal on May 3, 2007 as her parents dined with friends nearby.
About 180 guests attended the McCanns' fundraising dinner in London last night. A new poem about Madeleine by Simon Armitage, called 'The Beacon', was read at the event.
The McCanns said of the poem: "It conveys so accurately and succinctly both our darker moments and the reality of hope, as well as including powerful and touching references to Madeleine."
Half the money raised will go to the McCanns' fund to find Madeleine and the other half will go to two missing-persons' charities.
The paper lanterns were launched at 7.30pm from about 20 different locations in Britain, Portugal and the US.
Mr and Mrs McCann are taking legal action against Goncalo Amaral, the former head of the Portuguese police investigation into Madeleine's disappearance. They have been granted a temporary injunction against the publication and distribution of his book, 'Maddie: The Truth Of The Lie', which claims that their daughter died in the family's holiday flat on the day that she went missing.
The judge is expected to rule on the case next month.
The McCanns are also seeking €1.2m in compensation for defamation in separate proceedings in Portugal against the former detective.