I lost my daughter this afternoon. It was less than three minutes before I found her, but it was long enough for panic to set in. I found this donkey as I looked for her, breathing in her smell on the stuffed animal she loves.
My husband had gone to the basement to flip the laundry. My son was in the living room, and I decided to make a cup of coffee in the kitchen. My daughter was in the kitchen with me , but she walked out towards the living room. I assumed she was with her brother and a minute passed as I made my coffee.
I knew the back door was locked but when I came into the foyer, I saw with a start that the front door I always keep locked was unlocked. I immediately became nervous as I looked for her and couldn’t find her. My son hadn’t seen her come into the living room at all.
Panic set in and I raced around the house looking and yelling for her. My husband heard me yelling and came up from the basement. He went outside to look for her on the porch. Then, he took to the sidewalks. My son was running around and no one could find her. I started crying and I thought I had looked everywhere. How could she be lost? Could someone have taken her from our porch that quickly?
Just as I was dialing 911, I found her in my closet, quietly sitting in the corner. When I opened the door, she laughed and said “I hiding” in her toddler speak. To her, it had all been a game and one she had won.
It was less than three minutes that I couldn’t find her and my husband said it might have been even less than that. But I must say that they were the most horrible almost three minutes of my life.
And while I can never even possibly relate to someone who has lost a child, there was a very brief time–seconds even–when I considered my life without her and I almost crumbled in panic and despair. And it was a wave of emotion I have never felt before and one I hope never to experience again.
All night tonight, I haven’t taken my eyes off of her. We played outside and I was right with her. I carried her all around and held her close, all the while whispering my quiet prayer of thanks into her strawberry blonde curls.
To anyone mothering (or parenting in anyway) a child who isn’t with you, my heart goes out to you in your loss. My prayers surround you and I send you peace and love.
I tucked my daughter into bed with her donkey just now and I’m sitting here as she falls asleep. And I will sit here on this night watch even longer tonight in vigil.
Thanks for Mothering the Divide with me tonight. It feels somber in this dark room and almost holy. But then again, there is nothing holier than watching a child sleep. Holy, holy.