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The Scariest Day of My Life

April 23, 2010
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I don’t know how I’ll ever sleep tonight.  I have had the scariest day of my life.  I’m not exaggerating at all.  Today has taken years off of my life. 

Late this afternoon, my husband and older boys went to the baseball field.  Both of their teams were practicing and he coaches.  Sam and I were left at home alone.  And Sam’s room was a mess.  Before his dad left, he told him to clean it up before he got home.  So, after they left, he kept trying to get out of doing it, I was on the phone and he used that opportunity to wiggle out of it.  We played for a little while, since I’d gone shopping and hadn’t seen him all day.  But, then,  I had to get tough.  I gave him a good “talking to.”  And told him to get his room clean before he came out again. 

After about 15 minutes, I called his name because I didn’t hear him.  You know, sometimes, quiet means trouble with little ones.  So, I went to check on him.  He wasn’t in his room.  So, I checked his brother’s room.  He wasn’t in there either.  They share a bath, and he wasn’t in there either.  I was calling him, and no answer.  I checked Adam, my oldest’s room.  Wasn’t in there.  Checked his bathroom.  Nothing.  Checked the powder room.  No Sam.  Checked our room.  Still nothing.  Our bathroom.  He’s nowhere to be found.  He must have gone outside. 

We live on a farm.  Lots of nothing all around us.  Our driveway, is really long.  The kids play in our immediate yard, and have never wandered off.  With permission, they are allowed to walk to the turkey barns,  or to play in the woods.  They don’t go to the pond or creek without us, ever.  I peeped outside, he wasn’t on either porch.   I walked all the way around the house, looked in our cars, and walked down our driveway, yelling his name the whole time.   

I am not one for hysterics.  I’ve always thought it was kind of “put on” to tell the truth.  I’m not a big crier, and am just not one for a lot of drama.  But, tonight, I saw that the physical stuff kind of just takes over.   I was yelling as loudly as I could.  I checked the garage, the playroom, attic, closets, cabinets, pantry,  mudroom.  I was screaming for him by this point.  My breathing had gotten really weird.   I guess I was sort of hyperventilating.  I was sweating, my heart was beating wildly.   

I called my husband after searching for about 10 long minutes.  He didn’t pick up.  His team was practicing.  So, I called my friend Bridget.  No answer.  Next, I called my mother in law.  She lives close by and said she’d be right there. 

I called Wayne again.  That’s a hard call to make.   “I’ve lost Sam.”  I don’t know what else I said, and have no idea what he said.  He hung up and I remember calling him back.  I didn’t want to be alone with this situation for even a minute.

  He said he was calling 911 and hung up.  His mom came in and started looking through the house calling him.  Then she started on the yard. The 911 operator called me at home and made me stay on the line with her.  There’s a problem with our alarm system and our phone lines.  Our cordless phone randomly calls 911 and hangs up.  Several times, the police have ended up at our house and we’ve all been asleep.  So, we have one with a cord now.  She kept talking to me.  Asking what he was wearing, I had no clue.  It took forever for it to come to me.  I was completely beside myself. 

I had tried to open the linen closet in the boy’s bathroom and it was locked.  I asked her if I could get the key and try and unlock it to make sure he wasn’t in there.  My hands were shaking so badly that I couldn’t get the little key into the door.  I had to put my mother in law on the phone with the 911 operator.  By this time, her sister was here.  I told her I couldn’t find Sam.  Her reaction was, “Oh my God, somebody’s killed him.”  Not the reaction you’re looking for, let me tell you.  My mind had already gone there.  I was imagining every tragedy I’d ever heard of happening to anybody.  Every single one. 

Wayne rushed in with Mack(age 7)  he’s screaming for Sam.  Running around like a madman.  Mack is visibly shaken, calling his brother and looking for him in all of their hiding places.  Wayne jumps in his truck and takes off to check the pond and the creek.  Our lab is missing, maybe Sam’s followed him off.  He’s cutting new paths through the woods, trying to get there as fast as he can.  He’s frantic. 

Within minutes one of my husband’s brothers is here, with his wife and teenage daughters.  They start calling for him as soon as they get here.  I’m checking places I’ve already looked, and my husband’s aunt is telling me again that someone must have killed him.  If you ever find yourself in this situation, and you think this might add something constructive to the situation, think again.  It makes things way, way worse.

The police car comes next.   Followed by Wayne’s other two brothers.  One of them has loaded up his four-wheeler and has his employees all ready to come start looking.  The other had people from his church coming with four-wheelers to search the woods.   

I’m rushing to tell the officer what’s happened.  He tells me he has to check the house, but that I can’t go in.  He wants me to get the family together and keep them in one place.  I’m panicking, I just want everyone looking for him.  My mother in law was working on unlocking that bathroom closet and she hears the officer and asks for his help.  He’s stopped in Adam’s room first. 

He’s found Sam.  Sam is asleep under Adam’s bed.  The officer is saying his name and he’s not moving.  Finally, the policeman has to shake him awake. 

He thought he’d stumbled upon a crime scene when Sam wouldn’t wake up.

 Sam, got up, never took his eyes off of the officer, backed out the door and found me in the yard.   I’m sure he was thinking, “she really meant it when she said I needed to clean my room.”

As soon as my mother in law found out that they’d found him, she came to the porch to tell us.  I couldn’t hear a word she was saying.  I kept asking, “Did they find him? Are you saying they found him?”  I needed a big Mr. Ed type nod.   Something clear and exaggerated.  Finally, it sunk in and then out came Sam.  I have never been so happy to see anyone. 

 I imagined the most horrible things happening to my little freckle faced baby.  It was horrendous.  Once again, not one for histrionics,  I was surprised at how I reacted.  My legs wouldn’t support me anymore.  I had to sit down right on the ground.  I ended up lying down right there.  The whole ordeal lasted somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes.  Those were the longest minutes I’ve ever lived through. 

In that time, I imagined a kidnapper, I thought of drowning, that he’d gotten caught on something and choked, that he’d broken his neck, drowned, that someone was hurting him.  I imagined my children having to go on without him.  I knew our family would be broken.  I wanted to see his little hazel eyes and funny expressions so badly.  I was truly scared that I’d seen them for the last time.   I felt like such an incompetent mother.  Losing my phone is one thing, but losing my son, was just ridiculous.

I screamed for him so loudly, I don’t know how he could have slept through it.  I was standing less than a foot from him as I jerked open Adam’s closet doors.  

I’m hoarse from yelling.  Exhausted now that the emotional stress of the thing has passed.  And I’m thankful.  So, so thankful.  I’m going to bed with a full house tonight. 

And though, nothing dangerous even happened, I feel like I came close to living through a tragedy.  I will never look at Amber Alerts or the parents of missing children the same way.  What they are living through is hell.  I’m so thankful tonight that my Sam is here safe and sound.  And we’re letting the whole crew sleep with us tonight.  We don’t want to be away from them. 

Kiss your babies tonight and pray you never spend one minute wondering where they are, because it is torture. 

I’m sure it’s going to be a while before I shake this feeling, but for tonight, I’m thanking God that my freckled face Sam is at home with me, safe and sound.  I’m thankful that all my boys are home safe and accounted for tonight.  I’m so sorry for anyone who has to wonder. 

23 Comments leave one →
  1. April 23, 2010 11:45 pm

    I don’t think you are one for theatrics at all. I would have been beside myself for sure. I could actually feel my heart rate pick up as I was reading your post. Thank goodness all is well.

    On a different note, I LOVE your photos. In the last two did you do any additional blurring in the editing process or is that all lens?

    • April 24, 2010 12:00 am

      It was awful! It’s 1:00 am here and I can’t sleep. I’ve got two baseball games in the morning, but can’t unwind, even though I’m exhausted.
      And nope, no extra blurring. I used a 35mm lens and the apeture was probably wide open, f1.8 maybe?

  2. April 24, 2010 1:15 am

    Oh wow Lula Lola. I was getting shaking even reading that. I am so glad he is OK, but I just can’t even imagine. I would have been a wreck too for sure.

    You have got one heck of a hard sleeper on your hands!

    • April 25, 2010 9:12 am

      No kidding! I wake up every time one of them rolls over, I just can’t imagine being that knocked out! We could have done surgery on him!

  3. April 24, 2010 6:58 am!!

    I am in tears right now! No mother should ever have to go through that. I am SO sorry! Thank goodness everything turned out okay. So often you only hear about the ones that don’t end well.

    You know what amazed me? At how fast your family pulled together to find him. Besides your relative that kept mentioning the worst possible scenario, you guys dropped everything and ran to help. That’s what family is for 🙂

    Go hug your son!! 🙂

    • April 25, 2010 9:18 am

      You know, you’re right about the family pulling together. I have no family really. I’m an only child and both of my parents have passed away and it’s nice knowing that Wayne’s family would drop everything and get involved as fast as they did.
      Wayne’s aunt scared the hell out of me! But other than that, they were really helpful.
      They tickle me because they love an emergency. If someone had a kidney stone or a sprained ankle, you’d have 12 people at the ER. (Not exaggerating!)
      But, they are there when you need them, that’s for sure. And there’s a lot of security in that!

      I’ve had Sam sleeping with me the last couple of nights. I am still waking up startled and reaching for him. Hope this post traumatic stress stuff passes soon.

  4. April 24, 2010 7:17 am

    Oh, man! Believe it or not, I endured a similar experience with my oldest, when he was probably 8 yrs old. After 15 or so minutes, maybe 20, of frantic searching we found him, asleep under the very papasan chair I’d been sitting in. To this day I still have no idea how he crawled under it, while I was sitting there, without me noticing. The hysterics just sort of take over, don’t they…..So very, very glad your boy is safe and sound, and so very sorry you had to endure something like that.

    • April 25, 2010 9:19 am

      I couldn’t believe I didn’t notice him under the bed, or that he didn’t hear me calling him. Kids can do some sleeping!
      Those minutes tick by so slowly, don’t they? Can you imagine being one of the parents who don’t find their child curled up sleeping? Ugh!

  5. April 24, 2010 8:56 am

    Wow, LulaLola! I was wiping my own tears as I read this. And although it wasn’t a missing kid scenario, we had a terrifying experience with Kate when she was 2. We were at my parents house, and Kate had slipped off the sofa. She had tights on with her Christmas dress, and they caused her to slide off their leather sofa. When I heard the boom (we were in the next room finishing dinner), I ran to her, scooped her up, and was waiting for the delayed- reaction scream/cry that comes with big injuries. But it never came.

    I pulled her back and looked at her face. Her eyes were open, her mouth agape. Craig grabbed her and laid her down. She wasn’t breathing. He yelled for my mom to call 911. Her head rolled to the side and her eyes were fixed and staring 10,000 miles away. He started to check her vitals and I thought she was dead. I will never forget that image my entire life.

    As he started to shake her (well, shake his hand on her belly to stir her) and yell her name, her eyes blinked and she refocused. She started breathing again. The paramedics got there and away we went for an exam. I was pregnant with Maddie, and they tied me down to the stretcher while I held Kate. They did a CT at the hospital and I couldn’t be in there with her due to my pregnancy. They wanted her transferred to a children’s hospital and the transport team wouldn’t allow me to go on that stretcher with her. They took her from me, strapped her down and there I stood, in the middle of a crowded ER, with my baby screaming, “MOOOOMMMMMY!”

    Everyone there just stood looking at me, then her. The whole thing was so awful. It took a good year for me to not well up when I saw an ambulance zoom past me on the street.

    I feel for you Lula, and I’m so sorry you had to have that terrifying experience.

    • April 25, 2010 9:19 am

      Horrible feelings! Thank God our kids were safe and healthy!

  6. April 24, 2010 12:08 pm

    I was sick just reading your story! And when you said the policeman shook him, thinking…Oh, my goodness! Glad everyone is safe and sound. I hope you lose that sickening feeling soon.

    • April 25, 2010 9:20 am

      Thanks! The fact that the officer thought I’d done something to him makes me really sick. The whole thing does. Hopefully all will be better soon!

  7. April 24, 2010 4:15 pm

    oh wow, how very scary. I am so glad you had a happy ending.

  8. April 24, 2010 4:25 pm

    Not the reaction you’re looking for – what an understatement. Just reading this gave me heart palpitations and I knew the outcome! I can’t imagine what response would have been if someone said that to me in the heat of the moment!

    • April 25, 2010 8:04 pm

      I told my husband that she’s off the “call list” for any emergency that I may be involved in! lol Scared the heck out of me! I kept walking away and saying, ” I CANNOT GO THERE!”

  9. April 24, 2010 5:22 pm

    Oh my goodness! By the time I finished reading this, I had tears in my eyes. How scary! I am so glad that everything turned out OK.

  10. April 24, 2010 6:16 pm

    I read a lot of blogs and don’t comment much. But you just made me remember a day long ago when my little brother went missing, and we found him asleep under the bed! It was several hours before we found my brother so we to had the police and the neighborhood out looking. I couldn’t imagine having to tell my Mom & Dad that I had lost my brother. The screaming comes naturally.

    I’m so glad that you and your family are now safe.

  11. April 24, 2010 11:29 pm

    I had the “sinking” feeling just reading this. There have been times…for just minutes only…where I lose track of a child and the feeling is just sickening. I can’t imagine it going on for 45 minutes. So sorry you had to got through this. I am just so thankful he is O.K. Hope you are recovering.

  12. April 25, 2010 9:02 am

    Oh wow! I know some of the feelings that you must have went through and I so thankful you have all of yours at home safe and sound with you. 😉

  13. April 25, 2010 7:56 pm

    We had a similar experience with Mason. He ran away from me in the dark and I couldn’t find him for about an hour. It was pitch black. I had people helping me. It was so awful and I couldn’t stop shaking forever. Isn’t that the most awful feeling ever? Glad you got Sam back safe and sound!

  14. April 26, 2010 10:34 am

    Wow! It is so scary when that happens. That is a feeling in the pit of your stomach you NEVER want to feel again! I had a scare with my toddler once, and wrote a post about it, too. I couldn’t imagine being without him!


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