I lost my daughter at Sunrise

Yesterday I went to feed my mom dinner at her assisted living facility. Clara always asks to come with me and the staff and residents over there love her so I take her as much as I can. Well, last night we were all set up in the dining room, I had my mom at her table along with assorted puzzles and toys for Clara nearby. These occupied Clara’s attention for about 10 minutes before the two year old crazies took over and she wanted to run around. Usually I just let her. It’s a lock-down facility and there is no way she can get out. Typically she’ll run around the halls and come right back to us. After a particularly difficult couple of minutes with my mom yelling at me while I tried to feed her I noticed I could no longer hear Miss Clara’s footsteps. I got up and walked into the hall.

Nothing.

I walked to the other hall.

Nothing.

I saw a couple of open doors to rooms and I walked in those, “Clara!” I called.

Nothing.

I walked down the hall to other rooms with open doors, “Clara!”

Nothing.

Panic started setting in. I knew she couldn’t get out but there was probably some form of trouble she could get into, oxygen tanks, toilets, windows, closets…. and it wasn’t like her to not respond to my calls. After several minutes of fruitless searching I told the staff. Thankfully they are an amazing group. They interrupted their mealtime duties to help me look for her. They called downstairs on the off chance she had somehow managed to get off the floor.

Nothing.

Ironically I find my mother in one of the bathrooms while I’m searching. She abandoned dinner when I got up and is now wandering around aimlessly. After more minutes go by without any discoveries I start imagining the next steps, calling the police, searching the facility, what trouble she might have gotten into…..Finally after a good ten minutes I enter a room I’ve already searched three times and hear a small whimper after I call her name. “CLARA!” She is tucked away in a small space between the headboard of a bed and the wall. Probably thought we were playing hide and seek. Tears are running down her little cheeks. I run to her and hold her and kiss her and squeeze her and thank God several thousand times in my head. Then I kiss her and squeeze her again before running out to tell everyone. I know this is a scenario every parent goes through at some point. The lost child. A cousin of mine was lost for several hours during a 4th of July celebration at a park once. I can’t imagine how my aunt must have felt. I felt like my world had stopped for ten minutes.

After that we took my mom’s plate to her room, I locked the door and let Clara play with a baby doll while my mom quietly finished her dinner.

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