As we were visiting and finishing up eating, another set of our friends showed up. They had been seeing some of their friends that happened to live in the same complex and saw us from the balcony. They just wanted to come over and say hello. So we talked and talked with them. I don’t know how long we visited. Five minutes? Ten minutes? All of a sudden the husband says, “So, where’s Abigail at tonight?”
As Jim and I both started to say, “what do you mean?” or “she’s right there” or “she’s playing with her friends” we looked around and realized. She was no where to be seen.
I remember kind of laughing a parting goodbye to our friends like, “haha, oh I’m sure she’s around here somewhere! We better head off and find her!” But inside? Oh my insides.
This is what I saw near me.
Multiple parking lots.
A pond. A big, big pond.
Multiple apartment complexes.
Beyond the parking lots? Very, very, very busy roads.
I remember thinking, “Well, our friend just took her kids up to the bathroom. She probably just brought Abigail with her.” But then I quickly realized, “No. That’s like against mom code. She would have told me if she had taken her.”
Then panic really starts to set in.
She could have crawl-walked in any direction. At this point she was still doing that T-rex style walk, she was still that little.
How long had we been talking? How long had it been since we didn’t notice her wander away? Would I have heard water splash? Would someone in a car see her?
I remember praying the oddest, weirdest little prayer. It was something like, “I trust that you are going to take me straight to her” At the time, I was cool and still as could be. I thought through the directions I could go in. My mama instincts told me she was okay. But, truthfully, I think that was panic more than anything else.
I don’t know how long we looked for her. Probably not very long. Or maybe we did. Jim found her up the third flight of CONCRETE stairs to some random unit. Happily headed up to some unknown destination. Completely unaware of the trauma she had just put her poor parents through.
Honestly, I couldn’t talk about it for a very, very long time. It was like my brain was completely shut off to what had happened. I couldn’t let myself think about what could have happened, what did happen. All I could do was cry and thank God that nothing did.
When today’s prompt was to talk about a time I felt very afraid there was no other option but this one. Nothing compares to the fear of thinking that I had lost my little girl due to my own incompetence, or simply carelessness.
If you have little ones, has there ever been a time you thought you lost them? As a child, did you ever get lost?