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My Child is Missing
by Jacquelyn deLaveaga

The terror a mother experiences when her child is lost is horrific. One day, my two-year-old son was missing for twenty minutes - the longest twenty minutes of my life. His energy level is hard for me to keep up with, so it is not uncommon for him to flit between three rooms ten times in ten minutes, playing and exploring. On this particular day, he and I were in the kitchen, and suddenly I realized he had left the room. I went through the house calling his name, but he didn't answer. I ran around our yard (completely fenced), thinking that maybe he let himself outside, but there was no answer.

At this point, I became frantic. I sent my daughter to get the neighbor and I called 911. I was having terror-filled flashbacks of watching a motor-home pull away from our curb just as I began searching the house for him. Had someone taken him from the yard? I began crying uncontrollably and could hardly speak to the operator on the emergency line. I felt as if I would vomit any second.

I was able to dial the numbers of two friends who live close by and ask them to come over and be with me. I didn't think there was anywhere else to look. If he was outside of my yard, someone must have taken him, because he could not get through the gates.

When my daughter returned with our elderly neighbor, Leola, I was still crying uncontrollably. "Did you check the garage?" Leola asked. I had a fleeting feeling of hope and I jumped up. "No - I didn't - he can't get the door open..." and I flew into the backyard. As I pulled open the door that leads from our backyard into our garage, Timothy came flying out, covered in automotive grease and hanging onto the door handle. He was holding my husband's drill in his other hand.

"Oh Timothy!" I cried with relief.

"I needed the drill," he said.

I picked him up and he snuggled against my chest, staring straight ahead. Then he looked up at me and said, "I got my finger stuck."

I babbled on and on about how scared I was because I couldn't find him and I wept. I knew he had been trying to get the door open for awhile and was obviously very afraid. He was probably yelling for me and I couldn't hear him. I still don't understand how he pulled open a door that usually takes my whole strength to force open, nor why he pulled it shut behind him.

The loss of a child is a terrible pain, and my heart goes out to parents who do not open a door to find their child. Our children are a gift in all of our lives; a gift that is so close to us that it is easy to take it for granted. It is often only in times of crisis that we fully realize just how precious and fragile is the nature of life.

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