The sleep deprived ramblings of one full-time mom. I pretty much write to stay marginally sane and to make other moms feel better about themselves. You're welcome.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So Close

"I only turned my back for a minute..." How many tragedies involving children begin with those eight words? We all know in the darkest corner of our being that life can change in the time it takes a ball to roll into the street, a truck to run a red light, a stairway door to be left open. I knew it too, but yesterday happened anyway.

Let me preface this by saying that my daughter is fine. She is safe, she is home, she is ornery as ever. And I'm pretty certain I owe a major debt to a guardian angel who was working overtime to make that happen.

Yesterday evening my son, Miles, left our house with a friend to play at the friend's house for a bit. A moment later the friend's mom called and I was speaking with her for a matter of minutes when I realized Corinne was no longer in the room with me. Assuming she'd gone into her room to play, I finished the phone call and went in to check on her. She wasn't there.

No big deal, I thought, and I began calling her name. Then I realized the gate to the top of the stairs was open. Again, no big deal. She's adept at getting up and down the stairs and there's nothing she can hurt herself on in the basement. I wasn't worried.

Until I reached the bottom of the stairs and saw the sliding glass door open a foot.

I literally couldn't catch my breath. My two year old was alone, wandering outside in a neighborhood that borders a heavily wooded area with a creek, streets that see a fair amount of traffic, and coyotes. I ran outside, sliding in melting snow in my bare feet. I called her name and searched in vain for her, but saw no sign. Racing around to the front of the house, I tried to keep panic at bay, but visions of her toddling into the street filled my head. I searched all around the house, even running back inside in the hopes she'd come home on her own, but to no avail.

I'm sure all this took place within a five minute time span, but it honestly felt like hours. Every awful scenario scrolled through my mind until suddenly I spotted her. She stood four feet from a drainage ditch that backs up to a neighbor's yard. Due to heavy snowfall last weekend followed by warmer temps, the ditch was now a rushing creek, and she was pointing to it with obvious interest, saying, "Water!"

I cleared the space between us in a heartbeat and once I had her in my arms I literally couldn't stand. My legs just gave out and I held her, sobbing and thanking God. She kept wiping my tears away and saying, "I okay, mama. No cry. I go find Miles."

There but for the grace of God...I have never felt such cold fear followed by such immense relief. Sleep eluded me last night as I re-played the situation and fought to erase visions of what might have been. I am incredibly thankful that our story had a happy ending and you can bet the sliding doors in our house will be barred and locked from now on.

Whoever said that to have a child was to allow your heart to grow arms and legs and walk around outside your body was absolutely right. Today will be spent keeping her in my sight, holding her tight, and giving thanks. Amen.

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