I was going to wait and write about this at the end of the year, since that is when it happened last year. However, I think the emotion of it is giving me writer’s block, and I am hoping by sending it out into the void and sharing with all of you, it might help me heal a little more from probably the worst experience of my life.
I am one of those people, even before kids, but even more so with kids, I immediately think of the worst that could happen in every situation, and then I try to do everything humanly possible to keep those things from happening. I know lots of mom’s and people like this, and then I have friends who are so laid back about things that I wonder how many milligrams they are taking a day! I absolutely have days where this instinct is less active than others, but for the most part I am an extreme worry wart!
Now that you have all that knowledge under your belt, I take you to this past Christmas Eve. My husband, his best friend, my kiddos, my Mom and I all went over to my in-laws to hang out and eat dinner. We had a fun time, ate dinner and then began packing up to go home and get the kids to bed for Santa Clause to come. We loaded the car, and then we were all in the kitchen saying goodbyes and getting ready to leave. I think we all got caught up in a story. This was maybe only about two or five minutes after loading the car. I was putting our son in his carseat when I heard my mother-in-law and my husband say “Oh my God”, and then I heard them running down the stairs to the garage. I knew immediately what happened. My girl had gotten out of the house! We always keep the garage door locked and the laundry room that leads to the garage door has a child lock, but we had been loading the car. I went into panic mode so quickly that the events that happened next are fuzzy and vivid all at the same time.
I looked at my sister-in-law and pointed to my son for her to take care of him, and then I sprinted out of the house. I heard someone say check the pool, and my heart stopped. I could have thrown up! I frantically ran back up stairs and looked out at the pool. She was not there. Thank God! I ran back into the house, and I was pretty much hyperventilating at this point double checking the rooms. “Please just be in the house, please, please, please!!!!” I knew she wasn’t. I go back outside and my husband, his best friend and his dad are running after a car yelling “STOP”. I thought “she is about to be hit by a car”. I take off and start screaming with them. She was not there, and they spoke to the guy in the car telling him the situation and to watch out for her. I ran and looked in a cul de sac two houses down. I turn around and run back towards my in-laws. I looked on the front porch of their neighbors thinking, “she might be stimming on their Christmas lights”. I ran to another neighbors and looked in the backyard. I am screaming her name over and over. So hard that I thought all the breath in my body was taken completely away each time. I ran back to their house thinking I am calling the police. Not knowing yet that my husband’s best friend, who is a police officer, already had, and so had my sister-in-law. I get back in their house, she has not been found yet, and I just fall to the floor. I am begging God to not take my girl. The worst is just slamming my mind so hard that I felt like I was being punched in the gut and in the face. Everyone has a pool in the neighborhood, they live by the river, she has no fear of on coming cars, strangers, will I ever see her and hold her ever again….THE WORST! I couldn’t turn it off! My mom at one point grabs my face and says “we will find her”. I was so fearful that was not going to happen. I get up and run back into the street again and continue screaming her name! Crying at the same time, falling to the ground and continuing to pray. And then I hear my mother-in-law scream the best words ever, “THEY HAVE HER!!!”!! I just erupted into hysterical tears! Thanking God sprinting back towards their house. I can hardly hold it together in their driveway, we were all just sobbing, and I ask where they are. My mother-in-law points towards them down the street, and I take off running to her. I drop to my knees when I get to her and just squeeze her like I have never done it before. My husband says “lets get back to the house” (we were in the middle of the road). I grip her hand tightly, rubbing it at the same time and kissing her head and walk her back to the house.
We all get back in the house, crying, and thanking God that the worst did not happen. I am just squeezing my husband and family being beyond greatful. My husband said that once they stopped the man in the car, and told him what was going on, he told them that he had seen her running down the street, and he was going to circle back around to stop her. If he had not seen her….the worst! My husband, father-in-law and our friend ran in that direction. My mom, my mother and sister-in-law and I were all in the other direction and did not know the man in the car had seen her. Or at least I didn’t…again fuzzy! The guys had split up on the street in the direction she was, and not a minute later, my husband said he looked up and saw our friend coming back towards him holding her. He could see her pony tail sticking up in the dark from the light of the car behind him. He said it was the best sight ever and his heart sank when he saw her! I have to tell you, as panicked as we were, my husband was so great! Focused and although freaking out beyond comprehension, held it together so well in the hunt for our baby! Everyone did such a great job in the fear of the moment, and I am thankful for all of them!
The thing is, this only lasted about 10/15 minutes or so. It felt like a lifetime. And she had made it quite a way down the street, almost to a more busy street…the worst! And she could probably hear us screaming her name. It was dark and scary for us, but for her, she had no fear or knowledge of the horror that was the moment. And for most non autistic 7 year olds, this would have been immediately resolved. They would have responded to their name, they would not have been running in the middle of the road in the dark, they would know better. They would know fear, they would be scared to be in the dark outside at night by themselves and they understand cause and effect. But for our girl, this is something we have to be on constant high alert for because she does not understand these things, we have to do it for her. I think of the horrible stories I have read of autistic children going missing and getting out and the worst happening. I am so extremely thankful our story did not end up that way.
We can’t control all the worst! And this is a hard reality to grasp. I am a control freak and have a hard time accepting this. We have to do our best to avoid these unimaginable things, but a lot is left in God’s hands. Our house is like Hotel California, we have locks on everything and we go to extreme measures to keep our babies safe. Most parents do. The rest is out of our hands. We all put our guard down at points in our lives, we are human, and that is when you have to hope that everything will be just fine. And unfortunately sometimes it is not. Unfortunately, without our understanding, this is not His plan. Again, I am beyond greatful our story was not one of those times. I hold my family a little tighter after this, as my eyes were forced open to the worst. It has been hard to even let our kiddos out of my sight. All of us that were there I think are a little traumatized from the experience, but the worst didn’t happen, and we have that to hold onto and be thankful for!
Lots of Love,