Wednesday, June 24, 2009
The Scariest Day of My Life
I experienced real fear today. I thought I knew what fear was. When we rode the Big Shot in Las Vegas, I thought that was scary. That was more like excitement. I used to have this reoccurring nightmare where a snake the size of a house would eat me and my family. That was scary as a kid, but nothing compared to what I experienced today.
I took my kids to the movie today but I knew Tori would rather have a nap than sit in a dark theater. My mom volunteered to keep her for me, and I was truly grateful. After the movie I went to her house to pick her up. The kids played for a little while and when Tori woke up, it was time to go. I took Tori and Tyler down to the swings for a few minutes before we left and I told Nicole to find her shoes because it's time to go. My mom was in the house with Nicole while I was outside with Tyler and Tori. I knew Nicole's shoes were in the basement and that she would need to come outside to get them. I figured that when she saw the other kids swinging, she would come running. I didn't think I needed to really look for her to come outside because she would make herself known when she saw the fun we were all having. My mom came outside a few minutes later and asked me if I had Nicole. I told her I thought Nicole was with her. I was afraid she had snuck into Grandma's room to try and watch a movie or something. My mom looked for her but she wasn't there. I checked the basement to see if she had gotten distracted and was playing on the treadmill rather than putting on her shoes. She wasn't there, but her shoes were. We both started calling for her (sort of annoyed that she wasn't where she was supposed to be). After a few minutes, we both started to worry. Where could she be? My mom searched the most obvious places in the house, I searched the most obvious places outside. No Nicole. We started looking everywhere. My mom and I both searched high and low. We were calling to her and yelling her name. We looked in the barn, the garden, the field, the pond, the creek (scary), the basement, every room in the house (twice each). I drove up to the road to see if she had wandered up there. The whole time yelling for her. I was getting really scared. I couldn't find her anywhere.
**Now, for those of you who haven't been to my parents' house, there's 5 acres, a 5,000 square foot house, a 2,000 square foot barn, and a creek and a pond big enough to go fishing in. I felt like I was looking for a needle in a haystack! She's only 3, she doesn't know how dangerous some of these things can be. Worse than that, she doesn't know how to swim.**
After looking everywhere, we were both starting to seriously panic. I called 911. We needed more bodies to cover this much ground. At this point, I'm crying. The 911 operator told me that I needed to get in the creek and walk up the current and look for her. I didn't want to find her there. During the rest of my search I was praying that I would find her. When I was in the water, I was praying that she wouldn't be there. I thanked the Lord when I reached the end and she wasn't there. But where could she be? I couldn't think of anywhere else to look! Could someone have taken her? After being in the water, I was having a hard time walking in my soaking wet shoes. I went in the house to throw on a pair of dry tennis shoes so I could move more quickly when I saw Nicole sneaking down the stairs. I burst into tears and ran up the stairs 3 at a time and tackled her. She felt overly hot, but she was fine. I was so happy to see her, but I had to know: where was she? She was a little freaked out because I was crying and hugging her so much. Finally, the story came out: she was hiding from me because she didn't want to go home. She found a pile of blankets on the floor and crawled under it. She was under there for more than 30 minutes (that's why she was so hot).
We had a long talk about why it's so important to come when Mommy calls you. We talked about it several times throughout the day. We even practiced hiding and then coming out as soon as Mommy said "okay, time to come out". I was telling the story to Ben and I don't think he understands how horribly scary it was because he knew that she was fine before I even started the story. Maybe some of you are thinking that I overreacted. But if you've ever lost your child in a crowded store or around a body of water, you know the fear that I'm talking about. That feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes it hard to breathe. The vice on your heart that just won't let go. The relief that I felt when I saw her was indescribable. She cried and screamed the whole way home because she still didn't want to leave. It didn't even bother me. I was just so glad that she was okay. An hour later or so I got an awesome adrenaline headache. Now, several hours later, I'm exhausted. I feel like every muscle in my body is rebelling against me. So now I am going to give in and get some sleep. Let's hope we have a better day tomorrow.