Friday, October 8, 2010

Missing

It was one of those calls that sends chills down a mother's spine.

Little girl, lost in forest, going on 6 hours now. Two counties are there, the police and fire departments and command trailer and now they are calling in a dive team to search the pond in the forest and now they are calling in an ambulance--my ambulance--to stand by for whatever they find.

I find a babysitter, go downtown. We've sent a crew, I'm covering the county.
I miss my son.

The parents are on scene, no, now they've gone to get their dog in case he can help trace her scent. It was a school trip, playing some sort of hide and seek game in the forest with middle schoolers(which just makes it reason #3,219 why I'm homeschooling). It's getting dark. It's getting cold. She's 11, and not dressed for the weather. Cut off shorts and a t-shirt, and the sun has set and the October night air has rolled in. It's cold even for the rescuers.

We're busy downtown; high fevers, cuts, drunks, the usual. We're thinking about the crews up at the search scene, preparing for all night. I call my mom and tell her she may have the baby all night, because if the search continues through I will be sent up there, and my husband won't be home from work until 3 am. It's getting darker, and colder. I think about the parents, about my son, about how I would be. I would be needed sedation, to be honest. I think about looking at a member of the dive team, knowing he was going down in the pond, looking for my child's body.
This makes me sick, and I can't think about it anymore.

My pager vibrates while we're on the way back. They're calling for mutual aid from my fire department, requesting 4 personnel and our 6x6. They request that they all wear yellow or orange coats or vests to stay reflective. I think of my golden retriever at home, and remember that we need to train him to search for my son by scent. It's on our to do list, but my four month old isn't particularly mobile yet, so I don't think about it too often.

And then everyone is turned back. She's been found, 7 hours missing, in some of the heaviest brush in the forest. She walked for hours once she realized she was lost, hours and hours, kept walking in circles. Finally she sat down and waited, curled up into a ball to stay warm. I remember that I should teach Josh what to do in case he is lost(stay where you are. Sit down, and wait. Yell so we can hear you. If you get cold, here is how to create a shelter. Mommy and Daddy will find you, just stay where you are. Don't be afraid if someone comes that you don't know, this time you can go with them. They will tell you that they've been looking for you, and what fire department they are with. Mommy will be waiting for you back at the command trailer, because they will probably not let Mommy search for you. And if you are hurt, Mommy will be in the back of the ambulance with you, and will probably tell the paramedic what to do).

I think of all the things that I need to teach Josh, and I wonder how I will ever remember them all. And I think about that other mother, and, about midnight when the other paramedic comes back to cover the county, I slip out of work and head to my mom's. Usually I let Josh sleep there overnight when we both get out late, but tonight...tonight I need to hold my son in my arms. I need to feel his soft baby hair, and kiss his tiny baby lips.
I need my son with me this night. To memorize his little features, to kiss them all one by one, and to whisper I love you.