Saturday, June 20, 2009
Amidst the fun and family time yesterday, we had a serious scare.
As we walked along together, my wife picked up a splinter somewhere. We all stopped and huddled around her, trying to see whether we could get it out. We messed with it for a bit, then decided to go find First Aid. That's when we noticed that our little son, almost four, was missing.
I felt my stomach fall away. We had pretty long lines of sight from where we were standing, despite the crowds, and we couldn't see him. He was wearing a bright yellow hat, and we couldn't see him. Some of us starting walking ahead. I stayed behind with my father, in case he came looking for us on his own, searching a little circle around the spot where we'd last seen him. I got very nervous, very quickly. All kinds of dark and unwelcome thoughts flashed through my mind. The possibilities were terrifying. Unlikely, yes, but very real in that moment when my child wasn't to be found.
And then it was over. I saw my step-mother waving to us. She and my wife had found him. He was shaking, and in tears. My wife was in tears. I was in tears. We gave him long, tight hugs as we told him over and over that we'd been looking for him, that we'd found him, that we were all together again and it was going to be OK. But the looks my wife and I exchanged spoke silently of those horrific possibilities that had been running through both of our heads.
My little son hadn't noticed when we stopped to inspect the splinter. He just kept walking. We hadn't noticed him leave. None of us were holding his hand, as we should have been. Once we all stopped crying, we took his hand and never let go again.
Last night I woke up twice from dark nightmares, and went in to check on him in his bed. I just had to touch his hair, to let him know he was safe, and to assure myself that he was really there, really home, really OK.
My son, an up-with-the-sun early riser, is still sleeping this morning. I know. I just checked.