Today I went shopping in a big crazy shopping centre. Met up with a friend there and we had our kids in tow. One toddler each, one baby each.
Towards the end of our outing my little girl wandered out of my sight. Just for a second. That was all it took. Maybe it was 30 seconds, I’m not sure. Time stood still along with my heart.
She’s an adventurous, inquisitive, curious one. And she’s fast. I quickly scoured the shop we were in. I panicked some more. I alerted my friend. We ran down the halls, looked into shops, asked people. Shop assistants made calls to the centre management for me. Other shoppers asked if they could help. My heart sank lower and lower… What if?
So many shops to look in. Trying to think like her… where would I go if I was two and three-quarters? My heart was skipping beats. Tears were streaming down my face. I kept calling her name.
My girl had disappeared. This shopping centre was like a rabbit warren. All these strange men. All the stories about abductions. No, surely that wouldn’t happen to me. But… what if?
I have no idea how long it was. But it felt like an eternity.
And then finally I heard the sweetest words. “They found her!”
Another mother had spotted her wandering around the food court. (A fair distance from where I lost her, she had covered a lot ground). This intuitive mother thought that she should step in and protect my girl and took her straight to centre management. I still don’t know who this kind person was, but I thank her from the bottom of my heart. She was our angel today.
I ran as fast as I could to centre management. I had to see my girl immediately. I opened the door and saw her beautiful face. I fell to my knees and wept. I held her tightly in my arms and sobbed.
I know that I never want to feel that deep aching feeling at the pit of my stomach again. I know that I will do everything I can to never lose sight of her again. I know that my heart would break in two if I ever lost her.
My heart is still racing, my body is still trembling, and I can’t stop crying. This is what happens when we almost lose the most precious thing.
The most precious thing.