Monday, October 16, 2006

Love and Horror

I was reading DaMomma this morning, about a heart-stopping moment when her 5-year-old just dashed out in front of a car. God, they are so fragile, these children that we love with our whole beings and will protect with our lives. Once you become a parent, the world is at once far more beautiful, full of surprises and wonder, and far, far more menacing.

We had our own moment last week: we lost Child for the first (and please, please the last) time.

Just like in DaMomma's story, it happened in a moment. We'd taken Child to a concert at the local big theater, and had gone down to have a cookie and drinks at intermission. We were tucked in a corner of the crowded lobby, enjoying our treats, until they flicked the lights. "Okay, sweetie, time to go back to our seats!" I said. I turned back to make sure Husband was behind us, and then turned around again.

She was gone. Just...not there. I guess she'd taken me literally and started marching off to our seat without waiting for me, and the crowd had closed in behind her. I looked back to husband, puzzled, the panic just starting to rise. "Where is she?" I said cautiously. He looked back at me, astonished. I dashed forward down the little hallway; no pink dress, no blonde hair. I looked right, left. No children at all.

"Where IS she?" I demanded.

"What do you mean where is she? Where did she go?" he said. I just shook my head, fully panicking now, looking every which way. No sign of her.

"She must have gone ahead!"

"You go up to the seats," he said quickly. "I'll stay here and look."

Oh my God. I ran up the ramp, asking every usher as I passed. "Did a little girl come this way by herself? Have you seen a little girl?" Nothing. I pelted up the second ramp, around the corner. Nothing. All the way to the end. Could she have come this way all by herself? I went into the theatre part, up to our seats. No one. Now I understood what they mean by "my heart was in my throat." I couldn't swallow, couldn't think of anything but Where is She. I've lost her.

I ran back down the ramp full speed, around the corner again...

and saw them coming towards me, Husband with Child in hand. I nearly cried right there, in front of all the well-dressed people. Instead I snatched her up. "Where were you?" I demanded. "Where was she?"

Apparently she'd gone the wrong way, into the main section of the theatre instead of up the ramp to the balcony. And fortunately--this is a small town--she'd immediately run into someone she knew, who'd taken her gently by the hand back to wating Daddy in the lobby. The whole thing had probably taken 3 minutes. The longest 3 minutes of my life so far.

Loving that much makes you vulnerable. I would never give up that love, even at the cost of vulnerability, even with that terrifying tangle of emotions that I felt when she just went the wrong way. But I'll admit that I hope I don't have that particular horrible feeling again.

(Oh, and it's snowing this morning!)

Medieval Word of the Day: radly: Quickly, promptly, without delay, soon.

5 comments:

Renée said...

How scary! I'm so glad you found her relatively quickly (although I'm sure it seemed like forever).

Congrats on the detailed feedback and agent interest. Even if it wasn't for this book, that's still very encouraging!

Hope the cold passes quickly!

-Renee

Susan Adrian said...

Renee:

It did seem like forever. Horrible.

Thanks for the congrats, and the good wishes on the cold. I'm eating limes right now for my Vitamin C. :)

Cindy said...

Oh, that's horrible. So glad it's all right.

It must me the week for this. I was coming out of the pet shop earlier this week - Baby, Boy and Hamster in hand. I unlocked the car, told Boy to get in his side, and went round the other side with Baby. I snapped her seat in, quickly because I could see that Boy wasn't paying attention and I couldn't see him. I straightened up, and he was gone. Gone. I called his name, people looked at me, nobody concerned, all sauntering through their day as though everything was fine. I called his name again, and started looking between cars, up and down the sidewalk. I felt threads beginning to loosen and break - the ones that hold me together, the ones that make up the fabric of my life. The car was separated from the Pet Store only by a sidewalk - and Boy had, for whatever unfathomeable reason children do these things, gone back into the vestibule. He'd seen me through beginning to panic, and he was wide-eyed and pale. If only for that moment, he looked just like me.

Susan Adrian said...

Cindy:

Ack. Yes, now I know that feeling. {shudder} So glad you found him quickly.

Jas said...

I know exactly how that feels. I was performing at a Renaissance faire and we were in between sets. Hundreds of people and none of them exactly normal. I was a single mom. Anyway, had 4 y.o. in tow looking for lunch gave her my skirt to hold onto. I march off looking for food and get to chinese booth, turn around to ask dd what she wants and she's NO WHERE! I dash around looking for her for 1 or 2 minutes. Can't find her. Realize I need more eyes. I've got 20 dancers under my dominion, I race back to our camp to enlist aid of everyone. I'm panicked and crying. I see first my assistant director. "Quick," says I "I've lost dd. Help."

AD tells me. "It's okay, I've got her."

Cleave dd to breast. Hyper-ventaling. "Where were you? What happend?"

DD had let go to look at something and when she looked up I was gone. She knew where our camp was and that she'd be safe there and went there directly. Smart, Smart Girl.

Says I, "Don't ever let go of my skirts again." Cleave dd to chest again. "I'm so proud you knew where to go sweetie. You are very smart!"

So, I hear you.