One time someone asked. What is your favorite feeling?. At the time I think I said love. Later it changed to relief. One day I was at work and didn’t get my normal, Mommie-I-am-home, call from my son Paul who was in elementary school back then. Paul is and has always been a very compliant child. Nothing I can take credit for. God just stamped obedience in his DNA. On top of that he is punctual. To this day I can set my watch by my son. Now that trait he did get from me. (Laugh here) The rule was he had to call me when he got home. He had about a five block walk from school and it was a well used route by other children, parents and babysitters. I called home but didn't get an answer. Thirty minutes later I began to get concerned. I called the school but he had not been kept after. I hung up. It was in the fall and I began to think of how it would be dark soon . Leaving early I rushed home. When I got there I unlocked the door and stepped inside. I found the lights on in his room and the TV on, but no Paul. Fear hit and I checked the closets. It was a small apartment with little hiding space. Walking I took his route up to the school. I found some children on the playground. One child knew Paul and said, “I don’t think he was at school today.” I go back towards home, this time checking the dirty alley I only glanced at on the way to the school. Standing in that alley looking behind the dumpster I began to fight fear and panic.
Flashes of every episode of Law and Order SVU came back to me. I am not kidding. I swore off crime shows for a long time after this.
Time is passing and I have no idea where my child is. The police station is two blocks away. I can’t make myself go there yet. I go back to the school again searching and this time I walk to the end of the school grounds near an unused school exit. I look and spot two small figures on the steps. As I get closer I recognize one, my son. Relief flooded me. There he was sitting with another boy.
“Paul why didn’t you come home” I asked him my voice soft . I had absolutely no anger in me, just sudden calm. I noticed then Paul had his arm draped around the shoulder of his classmate, who had been crying. Paul looked up at me with fear in his eyes. It was like we traded places. “ Mommie his father is going to kill him if he goes home” Paul tells me totally serious. “What? Why do you say that?” I was confused. “He lost his book bag and his dad said if he lost another one that he was going to kill him.” I made a mental note not to ever say anything like that. I spoke assurances to the little boy and Paul. Saying how his dad didn’t mean it. Convinced the boy went home. I told Paul what a good friend he was to stay and comfort his friend. We crossed the street in front of the school hand in hand. It was only then I began to cry and cry.
Relief is still my favorite feeling.
A merry heart doeth good like medicine---Proverbs 17:22