Lost

When is a crisis reached? When questions arise that can’t be answered.

~ Ryszard Kapuscinski

She was almost three years old. We lived in a downtown neighborhood on a busy street that got a whole lot busier during festival time and the annual Three Rivers Parade. I thought she was with my wife. My wife thought she was with me.

She was lost.

Police on bicycles found her five blocks away. She’d fallen in with some runners who prefaced the parade and just kept on running.

He was almost three years old. Different house but just a block over, along the busy one-way heading downtown. Nature called my wife away for a minute and he slipped out the well-oiled back door wearing red-striped shorts and little footie socks. She called me home, frantic and crying.

He was lost.

Police in cars with flashing lights found him twenty minutes later at a church playground three blocks east happily rocking back and forth on a fading brown horse fastened atop a spring bolted to the asphalt.

Questions without answers. Panicked pleas without high-pitch replies. Only silence. And the soul-splintering despair of passing seconds.

This morning, Pamela got me remembering these moments. She writes, “Fear operated me.”

Four kids later, and the fear still grips me hard at times. We’ve done our best to raise them right. Taught them to take risks and broaden their horizons. And yet they are still children. They still get lost. On their way to math class in a new school with more corners and longer hallways. Through throngs of new faces and places she winds her way toward a door she swears was right there yesterday.

Acclimation comes quickly though. Like the back of her hand she knows it now. But last week? As frustrated tears welled up and threatened a cascade of embarrassment?

She was lost.

Answers don’t come quick enough at times. They didn’t back then. And, sometimes, they elude us still today. Yet we walk on, turning our worn thin and frustratingly vague maps around, reorienting ourselves. Trying so hard not to get lost . . .

[photo credit]

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24 thoughts on “Lost

  1. I am here because I followed your comment from over at Okay, Fine, Dammit and I am happy I did. I love your last paragraph so much…..as a mother of three little ones, I am daily trying so hard not to get lost but I am afraid I have lost my map. Isn’t that what becoming a parent does to you? It has made me toss out any map I had drawn up during the years before kids….and now every day is brand new. And sometimes I find my way easily and sometimes I hit dead ends over and over again.

    Thanks for this post. I will be back.

    Happy Friday.

  2. My oldest got lost on a cruise ship when he was about three. Scared the hell out of me.

    Now he is 11 — and I worry even more about him getting lost as he heads into adolescent. Lost in adolescence. I don’t think he will. but God, it happens. hope we can keep them anchored.

  3. Well done sir!

    I actually have to go with Ed. I love ‘not being found’ it has lead me ‘cross continents. I don’t worry as much about my little chicks now either. I expect them to find their own way home.

  4. I lost my boy for like 15 seconds in the supermarket and it was the scariest experience of my life. I know I’m going to lose him again at some point. That’s just life. As you so eloquently put it.

  5. I remember the first day of first grade. I told my mother I could find the room myself (we had been there the day before to meet the teacher). I found the right hallway, but ended up sitting in the wrong classroom for a while. I was lost, but didn’t say anything. Now I know to ask for directions.

  6. I remember the panic when one of mine got lost for even a moment. Then there were the times when my girls got lost for more than a few minutes. Each one did it when they were about two years old. Terrifying.

    Mine are grown now and they still get lost. So hang in there. You’ll get that call from hundreds of miles away asking what to do or where to go. Then there are the times that they are lost in other ways and we need to be there to catch them and re-orient them.

    It goes on for as long as we are parents.

  7. Those are heart-stopping moments. The words “child” and “lost” in the same sentence make all parents feel immeasurable anxiety.

    “Yet we walk on, turning our worn thin and frustratingly vague maps around, reorienting ourselves.” So true. Beautifully written.

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