Thursday, July 30, 2009

Paralysis Of Thought

Posted by Anonymous.

When she wasn’t where she was supposed to be which was 10 feet to my left, when I had circled around twice, when I retraced my steps once again, when the well-meaning employee who stood by the door assured me that she was still in the building, when I circled around for the fourth time, when I began to realize she was NOT in the building, when I stepped outside, when her older sister began to panic, when I could feel my chest tightening, when I had to send her sister back inside to stand with a nice stranger, when my mind began to think words I would never say in her presence, when I could not see her in front of the building, when I could not see her at the side, when I found her standing next to our car, standing next to our car by herself, outside, down the stairs, along the sidewalk, across the parking lot, ACROSS THE PARKING LOT–BY HERSELF, when I saw her and screamed her name, when I saw the look of fear on her face–first of being alone and then upon hearing the shrillness of my voice of being in trouble, when I swooped her up, when I held her sobbing body in my arms, when I got nose-to-nose with her, when I impressed my fear upon her, when she impressed her fear upon me, when I returned for her sister, when I explained the “lost rules” again, when my throat began to unclinch, when my chest stopped hurting, when I began to be acutely aware of the fact that I was in the presence of a few dozen other moms but I was the mom who had just lost her 3 year-old child, when I calmly took both daughters’ hands in my own untrembling hands, when I crossed the parking lot again and buckled them in, when I pulled out of that parking lot, I did not think about it again.
I did not because I could not. My mind just. would. not. consider: WHAT IF. That is the only reason I was able to keep breathing. I just hope it stays that way, because I could die a thousand emotional deaths if it starts to move again.

20 comments:

heartfull said...

It has happened to all of us. Don't ever think otherwise.

I completely lost it when the Walmart employee announced over the intercom that this was an "Amber Alert"... I wasn't humiliated. I was terrified because we all know what happened to Amber.

Of course, she was hiding (intentionally) in the racks. Like we all did when we were little.

Val said...

Been there....a few times. Imagine it happening with your entire extended family looking on, criticizing, as your comb the YMCA pool praying to God your child is not at the bottom. Only to find that he tried to leave with another family.

I know the feeling.

Anonymous said...

Goose bumps. That is all I can say.

Major Bedhead said...

When my son was 2.5, he followed a man out of the Sears automotive place. He was halfway across the parking lot before I found him. The man, thank god, had no idea my son was following him. I freaked right the f out. It does happen to all of us and it doesn't bear thinking about.

carosgram said...

Been there, done that. Only my 2 year old was found by a 'mall cop' at the other end of the mall. Fear, anger, embarrassment and relief all were warring at the same time. Thinking of you and wishing you the best

Jennifer said...

In the grocery store...

Hug them extra tight for me.

The Bells said...

Mine are 2 years old and 4 months old.

I know it's bound to happen to me, too.

I panic about it already.

Katie in MA said...

Wow. So beautifully written, but gut-wrenching. Mine was when my 3-yr-old managed to fall to the bottom of the pool with FOUR ADULTS standing right there. Thankfully she hadn't been in long enough to even take in any water, but when you look over and she's at the bottom and not moving...even when you know she wasn't there 20 seconds ago...

We've all been there. And now you can scratch that scare off your list, because what are the odds it will happen ever again?

Hayley said...

That post about made me throw up just to think of it. I have a two year old and I haven't lost him... yet. I can't even imagine how it feels. Glad it turned out ok!

Sadie said...

My 3 year old left me and her younger sister sleeping in a hotel room. We found her eating breakfast with hotel staff downstairs. It happens to all of us but that doesn't make it any less terrifying.

Anonymous said...

We were all in the backyard. After a couple minutes, we looked around for our 2 year old and found her in the driveway...at the front of the house! Thank God we noticed when we did. She's have been on the road in another minute.

Bad Mummy said...

At the beach. In the rush of setting up towels and toys, she disappeared. Not in the water. Not in the crowd of children. Me w/o my glasses but accompanied by friends - other parents - who scanned and yelled as well.

Found her, hand-in-hand with a friend of a friend as he took his own preschooler on a stroll down the beach.

I think I was madder at the dad. Furious, actually. That he would not ask my permission. That he wouldn't think that I would look up in just one minute and wonder where she had gone.

She has special shirts I keep for wearing at amusement parks and festivals and other very crowded places. Bright neon orange. Bright neon green.

Anonymous said...

I think all parents have been there; I know I have.

And for those judgmental few who say it would never happen to them, they're either lying, kidding themselves, or don't spend much time out and about trying to get things done with toddlers -- because if they did, it would happen.

dkaz said...

It is the WORST feeling in the world. It is the source of all of the gray hairs on my head. EVERYTIME it happened to me (my older son wandered away in stores a few times between the ages of 3 and 7), I died a little. Each time, at first I would be a little annoyed that he had wandered away, and then I would start to think, maybe this was the time...
He's 20 now, and we all survived, but it was really tough when they were little. It's still tough, because even though they are older and can go off on their own, you never really stop worrying about their safety.

Anonymous said...

My throat tightened as I was reading. My worst nightmare. It is sad we have to worry about such things and can't count on the community for help, because all toddlers do it. I hope you are breathing deep now.

Kellie said...

Sweet Jesus, I nearly died reading this.

So, so sorry.

Andrea said...

I lost him in Baby Gap for about 15 seconds and I was close to full blown panic attack. That fear is the very worst fear. I'm so glad you found her.

Janipurr said...

Three words. Harness. And. Leash.

We had to get one for my little sister when she kept wandering away and deliberately hiding in the middle of the circular racks at the store, sending my stepmom into yet another hysterical, screaming search involving multiple store employees. She said she used to get funny looks from people, but she didn't care because she didn't think she would survive another search.

I'm sure you can find one online.

Ami said...

You can plan, you can prepare, you can have contingencies, you can role-play, you can pray, BUT you can NEVER EVER be completely in control. And it is so scary how our best isn't always enough.

Jessi said...

Lost mine in a Cracker Barrel. She went out on the front porch to find her dad. She was three. He didn't know I didn't know she had left me trying to find a unicorn at the bottom of a pile of pegasuses. I screamed, I yelled, I failed to remember a single thing she was wearing and kept saying she has red hair, even though it is auburn and people don't think of her as a "redhead."

Happens to everyone. Everyone.