Thursday, 14 December 2006

Mother's worst fear

I took the kids to gymnastics today. Afterwards I was in the change room layering the kids in the necessary winter garb, ready for the mad chilly dash to the car. I noticed a woman with two young boys, doing the same. She was dressing the youngest one, who was perhaps 2 and a half, while the older boy, perhaps 5, announced he was going off to the bathroom. Now I don't know what took place in the moments in between, but as I was walking out into the centre foyer, I happened to see the same woman, minus the youngest child, but now with a sheer look of terror on her face....she could not find her young boy. She asked everyone if they had seen her child, "blond hair, blue eyes, answers to the name Noah". But, no one had seen him.
She begins frantically calling his name, centre staff guard the door to prevent any motherless child or suspicious adult from leaving. Other parents joined in the search, we don't know this boy, but we can imagine or might even know that same feeling of dread when our own child has disappeared out of sight. They do not answer our bleating call. They do not rush back to sooth our panicked voice. They do not suddenly emerge into sight when a sea of people begin to disperse.
The mother, fearing the worst, runs outside into a cold gale which threatens snow, and begins calling her child's name with wild abandon...nothing.
We scour every toilet stall; the ice rink; the ice rink stands; the centre corridors; the stair wells and every inch of the gym. The mother is now out of her mind with worry; eyes darting, mind racing, disbelieving how this could have happened. We can almost hear her thoughts, "but I withdrew my eyes for only a second.... just a second. Forgive me for that one second of neglect. Please return my son to me".
It is cruel and unfair, but that can truly be all it takes for a mother's worst fear to be realised.
Having searched the entire premises, we start over again - he simply HAS to be here - we all want him found.
Finally a staff member, a gymnastics coach, finds the little boy. He was there all along, hiding from his heart sick mother behind the girls change room door. Mother and Son reunite. We watch the mother run to her boy, arms outstretched and then drawing her child tightly into the empty cavity in her chest...the only antidote for this kind of broken heart. We hear the mother lovingly scold the child, "what were you thinking, I was worried sick", before we leave them alone breathe.
The little boy need take just one look at the agony written over his mothers face and glance into her misty eyes to know that he should never EVER try that again.... and I doubt he will.

1 comment:

Catherine said...

AAAH! You had me clutching my desk for the three minutes or so that it took to read this. Had this ended any other way, Id've gone to bed with pain deep in my chest. Whew!! Thanks for the ride. :)

And thank you for stopping over!