We ended up being without power for 92 hours (which, is four hours shy of four days). In the dark and frigid cold of our home I learned that I LOVE ELECTRICITY. I didn’t miss TV or technology really, but I missed light and heat. It gets dark here by 5 (and I mean really dark as our cul-de-sac doesn’t even haven’t street lights when the power is on), and it was 39 degrees our last night with no power. It’s just a hard existence in itself, but throw an active 4 3/4 year old into the mix (yes, yesterday he moved to three quarter land which is VERY important to a four year old) and it is much more difficult. We were unable to cook (we ate every meal out, ugh!) or even have a fire in the fire place (the winds and low humidity made it risky). We were doing a constant rotation of trying to charge devices while out. It was such a relief when a neighbor texted that the power had come back on that I got teary.
I had THE scare of my life with my son while out on Saturday. We had gone to an upholstery store that we’ve been to a number of times (he knows the woman that works there, where the bathrooms are, where the water dispenser is, where the candy is) and my son usually hangs out on one of the couches or chairs in the window and watches the world go by on the busy street (it is one of the busiest, four lane thoroughfares in the city). I was looking at fabric, taking pictures of samples and texting them to my designer friend and I could hear my son running throughout the store (we were the only ones there). It is a cavernous store so his voice echoes. I remember him saying that he had to go to the bathroom right before my friend called me. We were on the phone for maybe 3 minutes when the woman who works there said, “Where’s your son?” In that instant it hit me that I hadn’t heard him for a couple of minutes (which is eons in young child time). I hung up and immediately began yelling for him. I ran throughout the store and he was not there. I checked the bathrooms and he was not there. The woman checked the loading dock (on the off chance he’d pushed the back doors open) and he was not there. I ran out to the sidewalk and began yelling his name. There were people everywhere (there is a culinary institute nearby which must have been letting out, because there were chefs coming/going). I looked up and down the street and as the seconds which turned into minutes ticked by I was in a full blown panic (I have knot in my stomach just typing this). I asked every person I saw if they’d seen a little boy and I described what he was wearing and no one had.
The woman came out of the store with a grave look on her face. She’d checked everywhere and he was NOT in the store. Five minutes had gone by and there was no sign of him. I called my husband and cried into the phone that I’d lost our son. Later he would say that he’d never heard such a guttural sound come from me. I rushed into every store that lined the street and finally a woman said she had seen my son, minutes earlier, and that he was with an adult who she assumed was his parent. I seriously almost fainted and could barely control my hysterics at her description of my son leaving with an adult. OH MY GOD! The next three minutes are a bit of a blur but what does stand out is that I thought I heard my son’s faint cry. I was scanning all the cars in the area thinking that someone had taken him and that he was in a car somewhere. A man who’d been trying to help yelled at me to call 9-1-1. I began to dial the phone and happened to look at my car parked there on the side street, having run by it half a dozen times in my search for my son, and I thought I saw movement. I flung open the door and there he was, buckled into his car seat, red faced and crying.
I fell on him in a heap of tears and could not process what had happened. I knew I was looking at him and that he was safe if scared, but could not compute that he was in MY car buckled into HIS car seat. I am crying now just recounting my relief at seeing him. It turns out that he saw the front door of the store open, thought we were leaving, walked to our car (which happened to be unlocked because I had carried a chair into the store and hadn’t come back out to lock it), and got in. He can buckle himself up but can’t unbuckle himself. He eventually saw me screaming for him, running up and down the street, talking to people, but his small voice was barely audible through the closed car door.
I learned a lot in those 8 minutes. I learned that my son is connected to me by an invisible umbilical cord and the thought that he was missing drained the life from me. I learned that people are good and willing to help in a dire situation. I learned that my instincts took over so that even though I was coming unhinged I was able to act. I learned that my son can be logical and that he did what he thought was the right thing. I learned (again) to be more vigilant and not let my guard down around him when out in public. I learned that 8 minutes is a LONG time. And, I learned the deep depths of my love for him.
“Always kiss your children goodnight – even if they’re already asleep.”
~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.