Today, one of my absolute worst fears as a parent, was realized. We had just come home from the gym. I asked Noah to play nicely with Callie while I took a quick shower. I could hear Noah slamming doors while I was in there, so I called out for him to stop whatever he was doing and be nice to his sister.
Shortly thereafter, I got out of the shower, and only found Callie. No Noah...anywhere. I looked all over the house, calling his name. I walked outside, calling his name...getting a little more frantic each time. I search the house again, under beds, in closets...nothing. He wasn't on the sidewalks that I could see. I checked with a few neighbors...and they hadn't seen him. That feeling of utter panic started to set in when he was not showing up.
After looking all over again, I finally called Dave at work. He didn't answer his cell, and I never call the actual clinic unless it's something serious. I felt that this qualified. When the receptionist answered, I was already crying. Dave immediately left work to come home and help. I hung up with him, and called the inevitable. I have never in my life called 911, until today. The woman who answered was helpful, trying to keep me calm, instructing me to search obscure-never-thought-of places, and to keep calling out for him. The neighbors all got involved (I had started there first) They were fanning out around the area, down to the park. Neighbors I had never even met had joined the search. My greatest fear was that he had somehow been snatched. It seemed so unlikely on our quiet street, but anything is possible. I NEVER really allow my mind to venture into what it would be like if I never saw my children again...for any reason...but today I was forced there. My prayers were desperate and simple, "Jesus, please no!"
At one point, while on the phone, I thought I had heard a noise...I kept calling and calling for Noah, hoping that he would respond, when he didn't, I decided it must have been the dog.
The first officer showed up within 5 minutes of my call. I walked him inside to get a picture of Noah. As we walked in, I heard the sound again, but it was more directional. I walked over to the couch, and sure enough buried deep in the cushions and covered with pillows was a sweaty Noah. His shirt and shorts matched the couch and so therefore I didn't see him. I have no idea if he fell asleep or why he didn't answer my dozens of cries of his name, but for whatever reason he didn't. He came out smiling though. To this moment, I have no idea why I walked by the couch 15 times without shifting the pillows.
My relief was so incredible. I kept thinking the whole time...anything God, but the pond or him being snatched. Let it all be a mistake. The officer called Dave quickly to let him know and then we started letting the neighbors know. I just kept crying with utter relief. I have never been so scared in my entire life. The whole ordeal had lasted somewhere between 20-30 minutes (it certainly felt longer though).
Dave came home shortly after and he had called his mom and our pastors (who had jumped in the car and were on their way over to the house) to pray. He was able to let everyone know that all was well.
I sat down with Noah, crying, trying to let him know that he needs to always answer mommy and daddy when we call. We were so scared that something had happened to him and we didn't want him to be hurt. It finally got through to him the severity of what happened (mostly due to my uncontrollable tears and hugging). When Dave came home, and held him, he really started to cry. We all worked through it and eventually calmed down.
So, here are my thoughts at the end of all this: Thank you Jesus...that Noah was OK, that He answered my desperate cries for help. Thank you God for all the neighbors, law officers, and everyone else who supported us through searching and prayer. (Many of the neighbors admitted to praying hard as they searched as did Dave's mom who grabbed a few friends in the middle of a school institution and prayed until they heard something) There were a total of 5 cop cars that came through to assist us. It makes me very appreciative of our local law enforcement and it makes me feel more secure in our town. I felt the support of everyone so acutely.
I just want to hold my kids a little closer and hug them just a little tighter. They are so incredibly precious to me. I have always known that...but it becomes more realized in times like today. Those moments where you finally allow yourself to wonder about what if. Thank you Jesus that you had Noah in your hands the whole time. Thank you.