I lost my son in a Super Wal-Mart yesterday. I'm not talking about a, "Uh-Oh" I don't see him and then he comes round the end of the isle a second later, type lost. No, this was a Code Blue, lock the exits, every employee notified, 5 minutes that drug on for eternity, he has Vanished type lost.
I'm not exactly sure how it happened. We were walking past the isles, and at the end of one isle there was a toy guitar that caught his eye. We stopped to look at it. I was ready to move on and said, "OK, let's go." I thought he followed me, I guess he didn't. I turned down an isle and looked behind me, he wasn't there. I went back to the end of the isle, I saw the toy guitar, but I did not see my son. I checked the surrounding isles....nothing.It was at this moment that the voice in my head began its dialog; "He's right here, I know he is right here." The voice that tries to steady you as you feel the grip of icy fear embrace your heart and soul.
Fortunately, a Wal-Mart employee came around the end of an isle. I believe I literally grabbed him by the arm. "Sir, my son has wandered away from me!" I could not say the words "I have lost my son." He asked me for a description and his age. "He is 5." I heard myself say it....the voice in my head started to scream..."he is only 5, and this store is huge and I don't know where he is, PLEASE help me!! He was just RIGHT HERE!!!!" The man got on his walkie talkie and alerted every associate in Wal-mart. They locked the exits, no one in or out.
I left the man to continue my frantic search. I wanted to run to him, but I didn't know which direction to go. The voice said, "What if I start out one way, and he is in the other?" I felt like screaming his name as loud as I could, but "What if he was calling to me, I wouldn't be able to hear him."
Now the voice became sinister as it spoke my deepest darkest fear, "What if someone took him? What if, they saw him not follow you? What if, they saw you turn into the isle without him and in that moment, snatched him away?" Tears began to stream down my face. As my worst nightmare sprang to life, every horrific child abduction story I had ever heard began to run through my mind. I dissolved into full blown PANIC.....and then, I heard my name. On the store loud speaker, a man was calling my name, "....Please come to the fitting room located in the middle of the store, your son is waiting for you." And there he was, surrounded by Wal-Mart associates.
When he saw me, he ran to me and I scooped him up and held him as close as possible as the Flood Gates of Gratitude burst open and I sobbed. He whispered into my ear, "I'm sorry Mama, please don't cry." One of the associates came over to me and said: "You have a very smart little boy. He came to me and told me that he was lost. He said that his Mama had told him not to talk to strangers but to find someone who worked here. I asked him your name and he told me so that I was able to page you." I looked at my son, he was not crying, he was not fearful, he had not panicked. He had carried out the plan, just as he was instructed to do. In this emergency situation, he had kept the cool head and it was he who found me, not the other way round.
Blessing #8: Lessons taught to us by our children.