Thursday, June 14, 2012

Missing

I couldn't find my daughter today.

She was playing outside with friends, supposedly in the areas in which she usually plays-the field directly across from our apartment, or a little off to the side where a cluster of girls her age lives. When she's playing outside I can almost always see or hear her from my bedroom window.

A few minutes had passed and I hadn't seen her. At this point I wasn't worried. The school year had officially ended only hours ago and the neighborhood was filled with kids playing and running around, I just knew she was one of them. I leashed up the dog and headed outside.

We crossed the street into the field where we ran into half a dozen of Lucy's playmates. When I asked them if they had seen her lately, they all pointed in different directions. We walked a bit, the dog did her business, and I headed back home to see if Lucy had returned while I was gone.

She hadn't. I dropped the dog off and went back out to search.

I walked through the neighborhood screaming her name at the top of my lungs. I asked everyone I saw if they had seen my little girl. She's wearing dark blue jeans and a pink tee shirt. If you see her, please tell her to go home and stay home until I get there.

About ten minutes had passed and I was quickly approaching the fine line that separates being mildly irritated at my kid who wandered off and scared for my child's life.

I ran to the pool and to the park. She's not allowed to go to either of these places by herself and I didn't expect to find her there, which filled me with fear. She wasn't at the places I expected to find her.

I called Jay. I don't know why. He was at work and could do nothing to help and my call only worried him.

I called Monty. He was at the store with friends. (I later found out that he had just purchased an energy drink and when he received my frantic call, he set it down on the curb, yelled, "I gotta go" and sprinted home.)

I was circling back around to my building, holding back tears and screaming Lucy's name when I hear, "I'm here Mom. I'm coming." She came running around from the back of the building where she had been playing with friends the whole time. (It hadn't even occurred to me to look there because it's not a normal place for her to play. I have no idea why she hadn't heard me yelling. She just said she was "busy playing.")

I grabbed her up and ran inside. As soon as the front door was shut, I lost it. I was bawling, my body was shaking, and I could feel my heart beating so hard I thought that it would burst through my chest. I collapsed to the floor, clutching my (now very confused) seven year old close to me.

It's taken me all afternoon to get over this and I'm still quite shaken. The space of time that my daughter was "missing" was only about fifteen minutes, but each minute that I couldn't find her felt like an eternity.

Just about every parent has one of these moments at one time or another. A child wanders off or they momentarily lose sight of them at a busy park or shopping mall. I had never, personally, had one of these moments. I had never experienced the gut wrenching pain and aching body that goes hand in hand with the knowledge that you have no idea where your kid is or if they are okay.

I achieved a new level of empathy today.

10 comments:

Me said...

Oh! My stomach knotted up just reading this never mind experiencing it. I've had moments of losing sight of a child but nothing more. I'm so glad Lucy was safe and the story had a happy ending.

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Oh My Goodness. I'm all weepy. It started when I read about Monty's reaction (big brother love gets me every time!).
I've been there. Probably the worst feeling in the world. I'm so glad she was ok.

Run Lori Run said...

I had an experience like this in Target a few years ago with my daughter. She had NEVER wanted to be separated from me in large stores, even the grocery store. But on this day she decided it was perfectly fine to travel to the completely opposite end of Target without telling me. Of course if this was expected I would have just walked around until I found her but it was unheard of. I went thru the same stages you did until it culminated with the store manager saying, "CODE RED, CODE RED!" into his walkie talkie and two minutes later my daughter is skipping over to me from the CD section, oblivious to how her mother had gone from sane mom to utter lunatic in the course of ten minutes.

I still remember the physical reaction that I had from that experience. Glad it was a false alarm.

Crystal said...

I just got sick reading this. I am so so so so glad she is okay.

I and J Mommy said...

Made me cry just reading and knowing how you felt. My heart hurts for you. So glad she was safe and so close.

Jessie said...

Oh, honey. That's intense. I'm so glad she is ok. I'm glad you're ok. Ugh. That's the worst. There are no words right now. I feel terrible. I'm glad she's ok.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Tammie just reading this gave me panic feelings. i can't fathom what you were going through.

I'm glad she was happy and playing!!

And how cool in Monty really Tam? He dropped everything. Big brothers are cool. :-)

Violet Marbles said...

How incredibly scary!! I once left the room for like 10 seconds and came back into the room to find the front door open and both toddlers headed towards the street through the front yard. I felt like total crap for DAYS and I still have a minor panic attack if I don't see them immediately when entering a room. I keep all the doors deadbolted, but they can still open them the smart little boogers. *BIG HUGS* It's ok, Momma. You had a terrible scare, but thank goodness it's all ok.

Liesl said...

I actually got sick to my stomach reading this post. I'm so glad she is OK and so sorry you had to experience this.

Visty said...

Oh Tammie, how horrible. I had this happen to me when Garrett was 3. We lived on 5 acres with a nasty retention pond and blackberry ditches, on a very busy country road. It was completely awful. So glad Lucy was okay and just playing. And my, what a wonderful big brother she has. Lucky Lucy.