After awhile I realized that a long time had elapsed since I had seen my youngest, 3-year-old Esther. Emma was playing with dolls by herself and I asked her where Esther was as the girls typically play together. No response. "Emma" I yell, "where's Esther"? "I don't know mommy, haven't seen her." Hmmm. That's odd. But I knew Esther went upstairs and never came down (or so I thought) and I just started searching. At first, it was calm searching, but after about 5 minutes, it started to become panic searching because I should have found her by this time. Besides, 3-year-olds can't keep a secret. She should have been giggling, laughing at mommy's incompetence. Yet I heard nothing. The silence was eerie.
An hour goes by. By this time I had scoured every inch of the house, searching every closet and crawl space and still no Esther. I am screaming at the top of my lungs, "chocolate, Lucky Charms, ice cream, come out and you can have it all sweetie pie. Still silence. Now that's not Esther. She loves treats! Full blown panic sets in. I hysterically call Tom, my husband insisting he come home now. He's doesn't seem worried. This just makes me more upset. He calls our neighbor, Shaun, who's a cop and is trained in this area. As part of his job, he knows exactly how to proceed. He specifically knows how to search for kids in this type of situation.
Shaun is now on his phone dialing tons of numbers. Five more cops and missing child investigators show up. They search every nook and cranny of my house. No Esther. They tear up my house in the search. Nothing. They wander up and down the street. No Esther. The discussion of calling in an Amber Alert comes up. Maybe she did wander down the street and someone stole her. Oh the fear. The sooner we locate her, the better the chances I hear one guy mutter. By this time neighbors have gathered. Everyone wants to help. Everyone is worried.
Another hour has gone by. For whatever reason, Shaun decides to search the house one more time. You can just imagine my mental status at this point. And then I see it. Shaun walking down my front steps holding a sleepy (and guilty) looking Esther.
She had fallen asleep standing upright with her arms straight up in the air in my husbands shirt closet. The shirts are so stuffed in this particular closet that they propped her up. There's a little nook in the back of the closet where she actually fell asleep standing up while playing hide and seek. You wouldn't see her by just searching, Shaun found her by feeling to the back of this nook. I can't imagine being able to sleep that long in that position, but there it is, she did.
And I am so thankful he found her. In retrospect, Shaun says he would have never found her just by looking, he actually had to feel back there to tell she was there.
All our prayers were answered.
But the craziest part for me is how irrational I became. I was about 99% sure that Esther couldn't have left the house as I knew she had went upstairs and never came down. But I let the irrational take over. I let myself believe that in the 30 seconds I ran downstairs to get the laundry that she could have gotten downstairs and outside without Emma or myself hearing. Our front door is so loud that this would be a near impossible feat. It was possible, but not likely.
It reminds me of this quote I read just the other day from the mother of writer Agatha Christie that I've taken to heart...
"You see, how silly you have been? What a waste all that crying was? Never cry about things until you are sure."
Have you ever had a crazy experience like this?