Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Day Which Will Live in Infamy

Despite the title of this post, I am not talking about my birthday; nor am I talking about the terrible event that happened exactly 41 years before I entered this world.

I am talking about last Saturday.

Derek's parents spent last week moving from southern Kansas to their newly purchased house just about an hour north of here (huzzah!).  Saturday morning, we stuffed the kids into the backseat of Derek's car and headed up to see them and help unpack.

After we'd toured the house and eaten lunch, Derek got down to the actual work of unpacking, his mom, Becky, volunteered to take our kiddos on their long-awaited tour of the property, and I, because I had begun to feel ill, decided to go along on the hike (no doubt due to the fact that I will never, ever be able to banish my mother from the recesses of my brain).

Let me start by saying that the 70 acres Derek's folks now live on is just gorgeous.  Hilly, mostly timbered, intersected here and there by streams, an interesting rock wall-mini cliff-thing (hey- I'm a native flat-lander, remember?  Hills and geographical variations of just about any kind aren't really my thing), and surrounded by farmland and a state park.  We followed some kind of game trail that ran alongside a frozen creek bed, the kids high-stepping through the snow happily enough until we reached the rock wall.  At that point Atticus made it known to me that he required a little, ahem, disciplinary chat, so I let go of Caedmon's hand, crouched down in front of our elder son, and quietly disciplined my little heart out.

Once finished there, and after securing assurances from Atticus that he would, in fact, behave perfectly for the rest of his natural life (har har), he and I turned to find Becky and Adelaide examining the rock wall and its attendant features: little mud nests clinging to the rock from whatever birds build those things (I'm no ornithologist), pretty colored striations in whatever kind of rock makes up that wall (I'm no geologist), the frozen creek bed we were standing in (I'm no creek-ologist... or whatever).  At that point I began to do my customary Counting of the Children (I do this approximately one million times per day, every day, and suspect that, should I ever reach an advanced age, even when all the rest of my faculties have deserted me, I will be found slumped in a wheelchair, mindlessly muttering, "1,2,3... 1,2,3... 1,2,3..."), but discovered I was only able to say to myself, "One... and there's two... and, let's see, three, three... where's three?"

Caedmon was gone.

Adelaide didn't know where he was.  Atticus didn't know.  Becky didn't know.  I didn't know.

I have long thought of myself as being good in a crisis- and even after Saturday, I still generally believe that, because thinking one of your children may no longer be alive is not a crisis, it is the end of the world.  I am not speaking hyperbolically.  For a parent it is Armageddon and the scary parts of the book of Revelation and whatever other end-times language you want to employ.  Becky walked quickly back down the trail, the way we had come, hollering for Caedmon, while my brain quickly calculated that with the rock wall at our backs, there were only about a thousand other directions of unfamiliar territory our curious three-year-old could have set out in, and he could even then be lying in the snow, having fallen down a hill or tripped over who-knows-what, unconscious.  With this helpful information at the forefront of my mind, I whirled around several times yelling for Cade before setting on a vague course toward the long-disused hunting cabin that was in sight.  Stumbling through the snow, beginning to sob, still yelling for our son, whispering prayers between yells, telling Adelaide that yes, I was scared, making Atticus cry in fear because of the uncharacteristic distress evident on my face, a very small part of my mind began to wish for my inhaler because apparently my lungs don't like it when I try to make them do all the things.

I called Derek, to send him running out to the woods with a search party.

Just as my husband picked up, I heard Caedmon's voice.  And I began to cry in earnest.  Becky had found him, back up the trail.  He had followed one of the dogs from the rock wall down the creek bed, but soon found himself in a part where the banks rose high enough on either side that he couldn't scale them.  He had to have been close enough to hear us, but never answered.  Did I mention hiding is one of his current favorite/terrifying games?

Thank goodness Becky kept it together during all this, because I most assuredly did not.  I did not plant myself in the snow in a catatonic stupor, but neither did I use any kind of logic in my fumbling search attempt.
Total time elapsed?  Probably around five minutes.  It's hard to say, exactly; I'm sure whatever neurochemicals washed over my brain during this whole thing warped my ability to judge the passage of time with any degree of accuracy.

One good thing that happened afterward?  Caedmon and I both got sick, all feverish and aches and pains and nasty cold symptoms.  Not usually the cuddliest of boys, for the most part he's wanted nothing more than to curl up in my lap, sucking his fingers since we got back from our little adventure Saturday afternoon.  This suits me perfectly, as I keep finding myself in tears over the thought of losing little Caedmon, and it's much easier to reassure myself that he's still alive (though not quite well) when he's stationed right in my arms.

I feel like he should come with a warning sticker that reads something like "Capable of scaring the very LIFE out of you."


  1. Chuckle

    Sorry, but I'm imagining Derek answering the phone to your panic-turned-to-relief sobs. You left that part (his reaction) out of your story.

    Thankfully, my worst "thought-I-lost-a-child" crisis involved my nephew, not one of my own children--I was quite panicked enough with him (to the point my in-laws thought I was quite crazy--in my defense, I was pregnant with my firstborn, we were at Adventureland on a busy day, and he was a super-cute little 2yob with blond hair and blue eyes). He was fine, of course.

  2. I am thanking God that you found him. Yes, the world drops out from under the mom's feet when a child goes missing.

    I hope you all recover quickly from the fever/cold.


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