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Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The One Where We Lost Grace!

When telling someone this story they asked me a simple question - 'How does one loose Grace?' Very true, for anyone who knows Grace you would know she is a very difficult soul to loose! But here is how we did!

What happened yesterday is something that I am sure almost every parent in the world has been through at some point during parenthood. And thankfully, for most, it ends the same way as it did for us.

It was boxing day, and we decided to go for a picnic at a park just by the sea on the corniche, a very different but lovely way of spending the day after Christmas for us. We all had a great day, grandparents kicking the ball with the kids, kids playing, sitting in the sun, taking pictures and spending quality time as a family.

I had gone to take some pictures of the sunset with my new camera, Nanny and Joey were playing with the ball, Grandad and Jason were packing up the picnic and Grace was playing in the park. The moment was perfection. That is until I went to get Grace from the park. There I experienced the most gut wrenching moment, the moment, as parents, we all fear.

Grace was gone.

Now I am sure we have all have experienced this, the momentary panic and then you see your child. But not this time. She really was nowhere to be seen. I thought maybe I hadn't seen her. I went round the park several times.

Still nothing.

Still no Grace.

Jason was casually walking over, obviously unaware at this point. I waved him over, he knew something was wrong.

'I can't find her!' - the words every parent hopes they never have to speak.

Jason started looking, obviously thinking with all the children in the park, I had missed her.

He couldn't see her either!

In his organised manner, he set all the things down with Grandad for him to stay in one place. We enlisted Joey to look around the park, Nanny was retracing her steps as to where she had seen Grace last and me and Jason began looking outside the park.

Now I was starting to feel dizzy. Sick. Where was she? The reality that she was not here was beginning to dawn on me and if she wasn't here then why? Where? What happened? Only parent hood panic can create so many thoughts in your mind at any one time! You begin to think of all those stories you hear in the press, we all know the ones I am talking about. And it was 'those' people's stories that began going through my head. The realisation that it could, in fact, happen to anyone. And then that awful question - 'Am I the 'anyone' it is happening to now?' That is the moment you feel the hysteria bubbling up from inside. That is the moment you try to think of all the practicalities. What do we do? Go away hysteria because hysteria isn't going to help me now. I started making a list in my head of what we should do, what would be the most effective way of finding my baby? At what point do we call the police? I don't want to go overboard here, but surely the sooner the better in this kind of situation. And not just one strategy, the park is filled with people, someone would have seen her, seen who she was with, where she had gone!

The panic in our faces must have been clear at this point. A young couple asked us if we had lost our child - YES, the most awful answer I had to give - I wish it was no, but we had lost her. That is when it dawned on me. They asked if we had a picture. I had taken over 300 that day, so there was definitely some of Grace and I had kept my camera on me in case it led to this point (so there was a small piece of me thinking rationally!). This was the moment that made it real. I was finding a picture to show strangers my daughter. It was like a slow motion movie moment. I was shaking trying to get through the hundred's of photos I had taken to find one of her. The couple looked at it and said they would help us look. By this point other people were looking over at us, I was aware that the other families in the park were now aware and that was the point where Jason and me let the hysteria out and starting calling her name all over the park. Who cares what people may think of the hysterical mother I just want my daughter back.

Then in a surreal, slow motion moment I heard Nanny calling us.

She had found her.

I can barely translate that feeling into words. It almost didn't feel real. But it was.

There she was bouncing down the hill, holding Nanny's hand as if nothing was wrong.

I grabbed her close to me and held her with every fibre in my body and soul. I was trembling. And crying by this point.

The relief.

The adrenalin.


She quite simply asked me 'Mommy, were you frightened?' 'Yes darling, I thought I had lost you!' 'I wasn't scared Mommy, I was playing!'

It materialised that Grace had started a new craze that day of rolling down the hills. And the other children in the park had copied her, she met some friends and decided that she needed to teach them how to roll down the hill for maximum enjoyment!

Grace had been blissfully unaware as to what had happened. And I hope that she will remain blissfully unaware when she becomes a mother. As this was the most awful moment of my motherhood experiences so far!

I had a momentary glimpse into what the parents of lost children go through. Thankfully it was just momentary. Others aren't so lucky. As parents we will all probably experience moments like this, whether it be for 2 minutes or 60 minutes. But most will experience the same outcome as us. We will be reunited with our babies, we will hold them and cuddle them again. We will have the opportunity to watch them grow in their lives. But some aren't so lucky. Some parents live in that moment for the rest of their lives.

Take a moment and spare a thought for those parents, because we are lucky. We still have our babies. And however horrific that moment was for us, it ended, it was resolved.

May we pray for all the lost children in the world and for their parents to, one day, have it end in the same way as it did for us.

1 comment:

  1. Loved your story, the two pictures and the caring you show for others who did not have your outcome.