As a parent I've had many scares with my children. When Olivia began having grand mal seizures at the age of 4, I freaked out. She is fine now and has grown out of her epilepsy in case you are wondering. We lost her at the zoo one time on one of their busiest days, that was really scary too. When Anthony accidentally ingested some peanut butter and had to go to the emergency because his breathing was labored; that was also very traumatic (he is allergic to PB). Julia has had pneumonia several times and I remember a time when Rich rushed her to the emergency when she was little and listening to her breathing in the backseat made him extremely anxious. But it's been along time since anything scary has happened in our family . . . until Thursday.
After lunch my children ride their bikes to their piano lessons. Dominic Reece doesn't take piano so the other three accompanied him to a friends house on the way so I was left alone with Micah for a peaceful afternoon, so I thought. I decided to sit outside and read to him in the sunshine. It was a beautiful 70* day in Texas and we both wanted to enjoy it. Micah seriously loves to be outside for any reason. When the children all left on their bikes he cried and I had to physically pull him into the house so they could all leave and he wouldn't escape out the gate.
After we read, the breeze was blowing and the sun was so warm and nice that we just sat there and snuggled and sang songs together. It was nap-time so I took him to the bathroom and he did his business which always gets him a treat. So while he ate his treat, I was checking e-mail. I was distracted and glanced out the window to the backyard because I saw Micah riding his trike outside. We bought him a small tricycle for Christmas that he rides around the house and outside too. The door was open because of the nice weather so he was just trying to get his trike outside to ride it around our deck. The wind had really picked up and was opening and closing our gate to the driveway. I heard it banging and could no longer see Micah from where I was sitting but he knows he isn't supposed to go out there alone. I finished what I was reading and then went to check on him. His empty tricycle sat there on the deck. The gate was closed but I was pretty sure he had gone out the gate to the driveway. I ran out in my socks and called for him, opening the gate expecting to see him standing there or at least he'd be in the driveway. Nothing. I jogged (not ran because I'm pregnant and was in my socks) to the end of our driveway to look down the alley. I looked in both directions but he wasn't there. Oh my Gosh! I had just seen him. He couldn't be far.
I hurried back in to get shoes calling for him wondering if he had gone next door to see if he could jump on the neighbors new trampoline. He had been over there with his brothers recently. I got my shoes and ran down the alley to the neighbors and looked through the slats of their fence hoping to see my little boy. Nothing. I kept calling his name and ran down to to the end of the alley to see if he was on our street. I heard children playing but the noise was coming from the backyard of a neighbor I didn't know. Where could he have gone? Maybe he hadn't left the yard after all? Maybe he was playing in the house.
I hurried down the other direction of the alley just to make sure he wasn't playing in the driveway of another neighbors house. The wind was blowing and it was so quiet. I called . . . no answer. I kept running out of my shoes because they were just old slip ons that I had grabbed. Before I check the whole neighborhood, I need to make sure he is not in the yard or in the house somewhere. I don't want to go walking off and leave a 2 1/2 yr old at home alone!
The yard was still. I looked in the shed since the door was open. I looked on the side of the house. I searched in all the rooms all the while calling his name. Silence . . . I grabbed a better pair of shoes and the phone as I went back out to the alley. One place I hadn't looked was straight through the houses to the busy street that lay beyond. I decided to call Rich because I needed help looking. I was getting no where by myself.
No answer. I looked up and down the busy street but there was no Micah. "Oh God, please help me find him!" The last place to look was the walking path where the creek lay in the greenbelt. It's about a half a block from our house but God forbid he would be there! I called Rich again and he answered and I burst into tears. "I can't find him. Micah is nowhere and there is no one to help me look!"
I saw a man standing outside his white truck looking at me. He looked like a city worker and when I approached him, he asked, "Are you looking for someone?" "Yes" I said, "A little 2 1/2 yr old boy". He proceeded to point down the walking path of the greenbelt to a man who was walking and looking himself. He told me that man saw a little boy down there. "Oh, thank you!" I said, and began to jog down there towards the man.
But the man was alone. Why if he had seen my boy didn't he have him? The man was moving very slowly because he has a bad leg or hip or something. As I reached him, he told me he lived with his yard backing up to the greenbelt and he saw a little boy walking towards the creek all by himself. He thought it would be a good idea for me to go on ahead down the path and he would search in the other direction.
I called and called but the wind was drowning out my voice. It was useless to call for him anymore in the open field. I saw the man looking along the creek in the water but I stayed on the path. We had walked this path many times for fun. Micah had even played in the creek with the boys before not more than a few days ago. Could he really have gone this far?
I kept praying but was also beginning to panic. The path was desolate. The path forks at one point where you can go on up to a very busy street where lots of traffic was rushing by. "Oh, God, please don't let him be up there!" I want to say I had a plan but I wasn't thinking straight at this point. I just knew I had to look in the tunnel and beyond a little bit before turning back. I had to rule out that he was beyond that tunnel. Nothing . . . no one. . . In desperation I prayed that someone nice would find him and I began to sob. A sense of helplessness began to creep all through me, as I realized he'd been gone for a really long time. Would I ever see him again? Is he now technically considered one of those missing children you see on the news? Should I look along the waters edge to see if he was hidden by the brush along the edge or worse yet, could he be drowned, floating in the water?
I turned around and looked back from where I'd come and I saw the man I'd talked to before waving at me. Oh God, had he found him? I tried to call Rich again but my pone said out of range. I began to cry out-loud a gut wrenching cry as I walked back. I started to see things in the water that looked like a floating body but when I'd run up to them they were just rocks half in and half out of the water. I saw Rich talking to the man with the bad leg but neither of them had Micah.
Rich was on the phone with the police and all I could hear was the wind and the wail coming from my own self. Then Rich said, "Oh thank you!" and he began to weep. He looked at me and said, "Someone has him back at the house!" We began to run together as fast as my pregnant body would go. Up the hill we went to the end of our court where we saw the Carrollton city worker with his white truck standing there. He said, "Is this your boy in the red shirt?" Micah was standing off a ways playing in a puddle and his pants were wet up to his knees. Rich ran to hug him but Micah ran from him knowing he was probably in big trouble.
He was very quiet and looked ashamed. He didn't cry or smile or say a word. It was a little strange. We thanked the man and walked back to our house. I sat down on our front steps and Micah sat next to me. I cried and Rich gave God thanks for giving us our boy back.
We will never know if he went down to the creek or not. Were his pants went from the creek or the puddle? The afternoon was a solemn one with many tears. Since then friends have told me that the amount of adrenaline really escalates during an experience like that and it takes sometimes a few days to feel somewhat normal again.
The police came to the door to file a report and I had to relive it all over again for the officer. After he left I put Micah down for his nap. I was exhausted but I was afraid to close my eyes for fear, Micah would wander away again. This is definitely one or our top 10 scares in our parenting lifetime.
When I tucked Micah into bed that night he requested his favorite song, the same song he requests every night. He calls it the Jesus, Bible song. He can almost sing it word for word by himself. I cried again as we sang:
Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to HIM belong
They are weak but HE is strong
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so.
This song has a very different meaning to me now. Praise God with me that we found our boy and he was safe. Praise God for friendly strangers who cared enough to help. Praise God that our little ones belong to Him. Praise God that when we are weak, He is strong!