/> Raising Angels: The Most Horrifying Event of My Life

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Most Horrifying Event of My Life

I'll start the vacation memories with the one that makes my heart sink and my eyes well up with tears. On Wednesday, while at the Magic Kingdom (everyone's favorite place in spite of this horrible event), we lost Dawson.

Pause for gasps and a deep breath.

Mackenzie and I were sitting on a bench waiting for the boys and Nelson to emerge from the restroom. When they did, I took Mackenzie's and Aiden's hands and headed towards the stroller. When I got there, I turned around to see a stunned look on Nelson's face. "Where's Dawson?" he asked with urgency.

"I thought you had him," was my serene and weirdly non-emotional response.

Then I realized, as Nelson urgently asked where I last saw him and then took off running towards the restroom, that he was serious. Dawson was nowhere to be seen.

I put the death grip on Aiden and Mackenzie's hands and began walking around shouting Dawson's name. It was a surreal, almost out of body experience. I really thought I'd see Nelson walking back with Dawson in hand.

What I saw instead was him running at me with a look of terror on his face. Dawson was not with him. We were all yelling for Dawson and finding every employee we could to tell them our dilemma. No they don't make announcements over loud speakers, but they would get the word out. No one seemed worried.

I went searching in a souvenir shop thinking he might have seen something that caught his eye but he was not there. A clerk must have noticed my desperation and called me over. I told her my son was missing and where we last saw him. She got on the phone immediately and called her manager. She was having trouble with the connection and told me she would be right back and to please not leave.

I stood there still grasping the other two for dear life. I said the St. Anthony prayer with the kids in a shaky voice and quickly scanned the area outside of the store. It was then that I noticed that every boy out there seemed to be wearing a light blue shirt like Dawson's.

When the clerk came back she was concerned but very calm. She asked me for a description of him, which miraculously, I was able to give down to the two stickers on his shirt and the tiny brown bear on his shirt pocket. She hung up the phone and told me, "I want you to know that this is the safest place in the world to lose a child. We've never lost one. We will find him. All you have to do is wait here."

It was at that moment, the words "lost a child", that it finally hit me and I began to cry. I don't know why I didn't before then but suddenly it seemed impossible that anyone would find him in the sea of children walking around. I felt helpless. What would my life be like without my precious baby boy? How did we let this happen? She offered me a tissue as I tried to pull it together so as not to terrify Mackenzie and Aiden.

I looked up to see Nelson running towards me. "They found him! Let's go!"

We all ran out of the store to see Dawson, as happy as a clam, holding the hands of two Disney employees . It was just like a scene from the movies. Nelson scooped him up and hugged him tight as I thanked the employees profusely through my tears. I couldn't wait to hold my baby.

When we had all had our turn hugging him and talking about not wandering off, we headed back to the stroller. I was amazed at the number of strangers who came up to us to tell us how happy they were. "Thank you," I said over and over with my face red and wet.

We finally ran into a pair of elderly ladies with walkers who explained that they had seen him wandering around and noticed he didn't seem to be with anyone. They called him over, asked his name and then took him to the nearest employee.

I am convinced that those two women were my angels that day. In fact, I'm pretty sure they appeared in the park the minute I begged St. Anthony to find my baby. Really. Two women with walkers at the Magic Kingdom with no kids or other company?

I have never been so scared, relieved and grateful in one day. The whole event transpired over maybe 5 minutes but it seemed like eternity...in slow motion. I don't ever want to experience that again. Not ever. And trust me, every time I think about it, I pray for parents who have lost their children and are still looking for them. It makes my stomach hurt just to think about it. In fact, I still cry when I tell people the story (and, come to find out, when I type it as well).

I'm not an irresponsible parent. If anything, Nelson and I tend to be a bit overprotective in situations like this. We still make Mackenzie hold our hands most of the time. I don't know how it happened. All I do know is that it did - in the blink of an eye. He literally vanished.

I'm not sure why it happened. I'm just so very, very thankful that it was so short-lived and had such a happy, harmless resolution. Since then, I have hugged them each a little longer, prayed a little harder, and held onto them a little tighter(much to their chagrin).

Thank you again St. Anthony. Thank you, thank you Jesus. Please, please, please protect my babies.


Blogger nicole said...

Definitely angels. We lost IndieGirl for a few minutes at Sea World last summer. She never realized she was lost, of course. There were four adults and 8 kids, and we all just grabbed the hands of those nearest us, whether our kids or the other couples. We got out of the amphitheater for the show and realized we were one short. She never left the area, thankfully. We were there on Labor Day weekend, so the crowds were massive. All I could think was that she was so small that she would be forced all the way out of the park by the crowds, without realizing it. I think my heart actually stopped for a minute that day.
Praise God that your scare was short-lived (relatively speaking of course).

9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I cried just reading it. What a horrifying experience for you and Nelson. I pray for you and your babies every day, and St. Anthony is awesome. I love you all so much. Damma

10:34 AM  
Blogger Angie said...

Praise God for his safe return!

I cried just reading your entry! (((HUGS)))

12:33 PM  
Blogger Amy Parris said...

God is so good!

10:34 PM  
Blogger underthewillow said...

Hi. I'm a friendly lurker - friend of Nicole's, actually. I had to "de-lurk" to tell you that this post was . . . . I'm at a loss for the right word. I cannot even fathom what you and your husband went through. I am thankful and happy that this ended well and that those beautiful angels were there to help you. I'm literally in tears reading this post. This is my worst nightmare and I'm sorry you had to experience it, even just for a moment. But again, Praise God for His protection!

11:32 AM  
Blogger Amy Parris said...

Amen! Amen! Amen!

12:41 PM  

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