Candid Chatter

Just Say It

It All Happens Too Fast November 7, 2008

Filed under: Life... The Way I See It — candidchatter @ 5:28 am

We went Christmas shopping. Early. I am early for most things in my life. I hate being late.

First we went to Macy’s for something for my folks. Then to the food court for lunch. Off to find the Disney store — well we found where it should have been, but turns out it closed. What’s new? Went to Claire’s for earrings for my sister’s oldest and then back to Macy’s for something for 2 of my nieces. Pit stop at the candy machine for lollipops cuz the kiddos were being excellent. Over to the kids section in Macy’s and the hunt began. Why is it that baby girls always have to wear pink? I wanted lavender since my sister loves that color and it’s her daughter. Anyway, I found 2 adorable outfits for the babe (not in lavender) and a sweater for the older one (who’s actually the middle one) and went over to pay.

My kids were having a blast playing in the dressing rooms. No one was in there — I checked. So why not? The register was 3 rows of clothes away from the dressing room opening. It kept them happy and made my wait in line somewhat pleasant. I had a funny chat with the woman in line in front of me and cracked a joke that “I should pretend I’m in labor, that way you would let me go first”. And we all laughed. I’m a goon. I love to laugh and make others laugh too. Fun.

Jeremy came out with lollipop all over his hands and face with a piece of tootsie roll in the palm of his hand claiming “this part is yuck Mom”. I told him to go back in the dressing room and throw it away in the trashcan. I told Brianna to go with him. Seconds later it was my turn to check out and chat with the clerk. She was a very friendly lady and we talked about how Macy’s always has the greatest sales — don’t let the price tag scare you — kind of stuff.

Quiet.

Hmmm. Too quiet. I told her “here’s my coupon, I’ll be right back”. I started for the opening to the dressing room and Brianna came from the opposite side of the store. What the…? How did she get out of that dressing room without me noticing?

Bree: “Mom, I’m still looking for a trashcan. There wasn’t one in the dressing room.”
Me: “Nevermind the trashcan, Bree, where were you?”
Bree: “I was…”
Me: [I cut her off] “Where is your brother? Where is Jeremy?”
Bree: “I don’t know, Mom.”

PANIC!!!!!!

I grabbed her hand and half-ran half-walked through Macy’s shouting for my son. The lady who was helping me check out went the other direction doing the same thing. Somewhere around the jewelry section another Macy’s sales clerk stopped me and asked “how old is he and what does he look like”. She had a walkie talkie “I’ll call security”. Tick tock tick tock too much time is passing where is my son. I said “he’s 2 1/2, has buzzed brown hair, brown eyes, jean shorts, and I can’t remember the color of his shirt”. She said that’s ok just keep looking for him.

“JEREMY” “JAY-JAY” “JEREMY ANSWER MOMMY”

My heart beats out of my chest. Brianna is running as fast as her little legs can carry her to keep up with me. Thank you God she didn’t trip and fall. I may have left her there if she had. Maybe not. I don’t know. People are staring at us. I don’t f-ing care who stares at me FIND MY SON.

“JEREMY WHERE ARE YOU” “JAY-JAY”

I round the corner near the perfume counters and ask the lady helping a male customer “have you seen a little boy come by here — he’s 2 1/2”. She said no and I kept right on trucking. I didn’t even say “thanks” that she answered me. I didn’t care.

I hear little feet running. Stop. Listen. Look. Little feet. Not him. Those stupid little feet belonged to someone else’s toddler. Run faster. “Brianna hold on to my hand tight, honey, we have to find him.” She’s wide-eyed and determined “alright Mom, I’m ok, just get him”. “I’m trying baby I’m trying — we’ll find him”.

I’m running for the front of the store — the mall entrance. As I pass doors that lead to the outside of the mall my heart is skipping beats and my eyes are scanning as far as I can see. Not there. Where is he?

Tick tock. Too much time. This is taking too long. Faster. Have to run-walk faster.

I am about to turn left and I see the clerk that was helping me in the baby department waving her hands. “Did you find him?” I can’t tell by her expression what she’s trying to tell me. The blonde with the walkie talkie comes out of nowhere pointing at a man. The man, dressed like he was straight out of GQ, was carrying my son as fast as he could over to me.

I collapsed. I dropped everything I had in my arms and let go of Brianna and collapsed into sobs. Until I saw my baby boy in that man’s arms I wasn’t thinking about anything other than shout loud and find him and do it quickly. When I saw him images flashed through my mind that are more wicked than I am able to type on here.

There he was. He had lollipop all over his chin and neck. He was a sticky mess. Brianna was pulling on my legs asking me why I was crying. Hands were giving Jeremy to me and picking up my bags and my purse. An arm was around my shoulders urging me to come back to the children’s department to gather the rest of my things. I was trying to thank everyone standing there as they were leaving the “scene”. I couldn’t stop the tears. Someone handed me two tissues. I saw smiling faces with relief filled eyes as I carried my precious son in my arms.

I finished paying for the gifts and I didn’t put Jeremy down until we reached the bathroom where I cleaned him up. I let them ride the rides on the way out of the mall. What’s $3.00 for a few kiddie rides? I have my son. He can ride anything he wants. So can my daughter — she grew up in those few minutes of the panic filled search for her brother. She was helping me the best she could, calling out his name, telling me his shirt was green (it was blue, by the way — but she was trying to help and I couldn’t remember).

I strapped them in their carseats. They were asleep before we got to the Turnpike.

I called my husband because I needed to tell him that everything is ok even though he had no idea anything had been wrong.

I still had the wicked images in my head of what could have been.

I thought of Madelaine McCann’s parents and I said another prayer for them… and for her. She’s still missing and it’s been over a year since she was abducted. I thought of Adam Walsh. I thought of Daphne (a bloggy friend) who hunted for her daughter for over an hour one day only to find her hidden under some blankets on a bed. I thought of all of the parents who will do what I just did yet won’t be reunited with their child again. I thought of Amber from “Amber Alert”. I thought of Jessica from “Jessica’s Law”. I thought of them all and I cried some more. I prayed. I thanked God.

Then I relaxed, took a peak in my rearview to see him sound asleep, and I smiled. He’s safe.

He’s safe. He’s here. My Jeremy. My Brianna.

My world would crash if I lost either of them.

Never again. I won’t let them out of my sight. I think I’ll do the rest of my Christmas shopping when Daddy can stay home with the little ones.

little-jayjay
My Jay-Jay

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11 Responses to “It All Happens Too Fast”

  1. What an experience…sorry you had to go through that…and it will be something to remember for the rest of your life…and his! I’m sure, after things calm down a little and he grows a little more, he might be reminded of what he did!

    Now, if that had been my parents, they would have loved and kissed all over me as you did him…then they would have beat me within an inch of my life!

    Oh how times change…Jay-Jay gets to ride the rides…I got beaten!

  2. Heidi: been there done that in a mall. Our daughter was with me one moment in the Sears record department (yes when there was vinyl) and the next she was gone. They found her. At the other end of the mall at Penney’s because that was where we said we were going. I must have bent down when she looked for me and since I wasn’t seen she went there. I am not ashamed to admit tears flowed. I also see a great parallel with the story of the Loving father and his wayward son. Glad Jay-jay is home and you are getting better.

  3. debateur Says:

    Wow that’s so scary. I don’t even know what to say.

    That’s such a big fear of mine I won’t take my daughter shopping.

    We did lose her for 5 minutes at Sea World last year. Longest five minutes of my life.

  4. tonyyork Says:

    I am soooo glad you didn’t go into labor during that emotional roller-coaster. I am also glad that your son was returned to you safe and sound.

    I know the feeling when it takes about three days to reswallow your heart after it has leapt into your throat.

  5. candidchatter Says:

    You know what I should have added to that post? If you see someone run/walking around shouting their child’s name with fear on their face DO SOMETHING!! Don’t just stand there gawking and then quickly turn to pretend that blouse you are standing in front of just spoke fire down from heaven.

    Bystanders. Idiots!!! I must have passed at least 10 people who did NOTHING but stare at me with strange expressions on their faces. They all quickly turned away once I made eye contact with them and pretended to be “shopping”. Jerks!!

    Heidi

  6. tonyyork Says:

    By the way.. I forgot to mention.. jay-jay is a handsome young man and I don’t see a spot of lollipop on his face. 🙂

  7. Will "not the actor" Smith Says:

    Heidi, thanks for opening your heart to us. I’m so thankful for the Lord watching over Jay-Jay and you have your precious kiddos. Now go rest and relieve the stress on the littlest one, and then do what my wife does – Amazon.com and Christianbook.com!

    I live in Plano, just north of Dallas. Amber Hagerman was abducted in Mesquite, and as a result of that tragedy, we all have the Amber alert system. Even further back to September, 1993 when Ashley Estell was kidnapped from a park where her older brother was playing in a soccer tournament. I was actualy holding my team’s softball practice at that very same park that morning. It was back in the day when parents would let their kids go to the playground as long as they were in the park, and I still remember the playground was completely covered with kids, and all the parents were watching the older siblings, but no one thought anything about it. It was Plano, after all, and bad things just don’t happen there.

    If your church has added a name-tag or ID system for the kid’s when you drop them off within the last 8 years, chances are, it’s because of my daughter. When she was about 2 or 3 (so, brain-strain, 9 or 10 years ago), we were attending First Baptist in downtown Dallas. We went to pick her up after Sunday School, and were one of the first parents there, but she wasn’t there. I then heard her crying and found she was on the other side of the big doors to the playroom, which had open access to the street – smack in the heart of downtown Dallas street. She had followed the head of the children’s section to help her, but the teacher forgot Ashley was with her and walked back to the playroom without her. Fortunately, she knew she was supposed to be on the other side of the door, instead of being her usual inquisitive wanderer, and stood there crying for at least 20 minutes. I told that lady, in a voice that was more calm than I ever imagined ‘This will never happen again.” Two weeks later, the church had a new badge system for the children’s area, and then Prestonwood Baptist, followed by most of the other churches in the area, all started adding them.

  8. My heart was pounding with yours! While scary story, you are such a good writer I felt like I was there. SO SO SO glad all is well.

    Just read your comment re: prayer.

    Praying.

    Have a great weekend!

    R

  9. daphne Says:

    Bless your heart!! After reading my blog, too!! Yay to finding Jeremey!!! Grace & Peace, d

  10. daphne Says:

    ps.. I never even told the story of my mother losing my oldest in another state when she was 6 and have her returned by security AFTER the origional incindent.
    THIS is the day the Lord made. Rejoice!!

  11. candidchatter Says:

    Daphne: I’m not sure I want to read that story. I cried at your last story. My aunt (by marriage) lost her niece’s daughter at Disney World 2 years ago for a heart wrenching 10 minutes. She (the aunt) has never had children and turned her back on the child (age 4 at the time) to throw something away a few feet from where they were standing and poof — gone. They found the little girl, but I think it rattled her (the Aunt) enough that she’s never forgotten it. The child told her mommy that when she didn’t see Aunt P she went to find her. People who aren’t “the parents” will not watch your child like you will — even family. I’m glad all is well and safe in your home. Hugs!

    Heidi


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