There is nothing that compares to the fear a parent has when they don’t know where their child is. I have experienced this fear twice. Once with Lindsay in Cancun, and once with Logan in Disneyland. They were both very brief, mere minutes, but it is enough to make you lose your mind. It’s something you can’t fully understand until you’ve experienced it. You can imagine what it must be like, but you have NO IDEA until you go through it for reals for yourself.

I unfortunately experienced it again today.

Thursday is a special day. I pick Lindsay up from school every day except for Thursday. Logan has gymnastics at 3:15. Lindsay gets out at 3:30. Enter our neighbors and good friends, The Robertsons. Their daughter, Whitney, and Lindsay are good friends and a couple of months ago I asked her mom, Miriam, if she wouldn’t mind picking Lindsay up and letting her hang out until I get back from gymnastics with Logan. She, of course, said yes. It’s been working out great. Love that she was so willing to help.

Well, this last Friday, Miriam had back surgery. Ouch. She had been in pain for months and it was time for her to get things fixed. The doctor told her she would be out of commission for 2 months. Her husband, Raymond, is a PG police officer.

Ryan has been sick all week and has had a really hard time sleeping for his naps. Today was no exception. He slept for 40 minutes, woke up screaming, cried for almost 45 minutes and then fell back asleep. My sister called around 3 and I was talking to her on the phone when 3:30 came around. I thought to myself, “I really should text Raymond to see if he is planning on picking up the girls since Miriam isn’t able to.” I ignored it and told myself that of course he was going to pick them up. I got off the phone around 4 and decided to call them to tell them Lindsay could come home since I had stayed home with Ryan while Jeff took Logan to gymnastics. I called Raymond’s cell phone so that I wouldn’t wake up Miriam if she was asleep at the house. He answered and I asked him if he had picked up Lindsay. His response was, “No, I didn’t pick them up. Whitney stayed home from school.”

What??? I didn’t know what else to say because I went straight into panic mode. I said OK and hung up the phone. Ryan had just woken up and I knew I had to get in the car and go looking for her. I envisioned her sitting on the sidewalk somewhere crying because no one had come to get her. I grabbed Ryan and ran out the door. I didn’t even bother putting shoes on and Ryan didn’t have pants on or a coat. Jeff had the van with his carseat so I just strapped him into the passenger seat and took off. I called the school on my way to make sure she wasn’t there. The lady said she had come into the office and called the Robertsons and that Whitney’s aunt was going to pick them up. Who?? But Raymond said she wasn’t there!!!

That’s when I really started to panic. I started crying and called Jeffy and told him that Lindsay never got picked up. I drove the route that she would have walked home and she wasn’t anywhere. I have told her in the past that if no one comes to get her to just start walking home. She knows how to get home (hopefully) and knows the code to the garage so she could get in if she needed to. She wasn’t anywhere. I drove back home just to make sure I hadn’t missed her and that’s when I decided to call Shanon Riggs. She’s in our ward and she’s become a good friend to me. We’ve got kids the same ages and we do Kindergarten carpool together. I called and asked her if she had picked up Lindsay and when she said no, I broke down even more. Where can my baby be???

Shanon immediately dropped whatever it was she was doing and went outside to knock on doors. Lindsay’s friend, Katie Dye, and her brother walk home from school and they live a few houses down from Shanon so she went over there to see if Lindsay was there. She called back a few minutes later to tell me she wasn’t there. Then she asked if I had called Paula Young, another woman in our ward. I told her I hadn’t and she said she would call her because she has a group Emergency text that she sends out for this kind of thing. I told her to yes, please, do that.

At this point I was heading back to the school to look inside. When I got to the school and got Ryan out of the car, I heard someone calling my name but I didn’t see anyone. After another shout out, I saw that it was Beth Allman, another wonderful woman in my ward. She could tell something was wrong and I told her I couldn’t find Lindsay. She asked me when she was supposed to be home and I told her that Miriam usually picks her up but that Raymond said he didn’t. She took Ryan for me and I ran inside. I just started wandering, looking for a pick coat or a red shirt. That’s what she was wearing. There were lots of people there because it was the Book Fair and Parent Teacher conferences were being held. I guess I looked pretty hysterical (I know I felt it) and women started asking me if I needed help. I don’t remember if I answered them or not. I was on the phone with Jeffy at the time and was headed back to her classroom to see if by chance she went back to see Mrs. Clegg. The lights were off and she was getting her stuff for the conferences all ready when I walked in. I said, “Mrs. Clegg? Do you know where Lindsay is?” She turned around and knew that something was wrong. I told her I didn’t know where she was. She dropped everything and came with me. We walked to the office and at this point, the office ladies had been notified of an hysterical mom. By the time I got there the principal was there.

The office lady I had talked to earlier was there and she confirmed again that Lindsay had come in and had called the Robertsons. Her daughter, Sabrina, was in Lindsay’s 1st grade class and she knows Lindsay from recess. I knew she knew who Lindsay was. I was just so confused! Raymond said he didn’t get her.

This was when I started to doubt myself. Did I hear Raymond wrong? Did I hang up too soon? The principal asked me if I had called the Robertsons and I said, Yes, I called him and he said he didn’t pick them up. I texted him and asked, “Are you sure she’s not there?” Then I tried calling his cell phone again and he didn’t answer. Then I called their house phone. A little girl answered. “LINDSAY???” It was Whitney. Then she said, “Yeah, Lindsay is here.”

I felt mixed emotions at that moment. I was angry that I went on this wild good chase and she was there the whole time. I was embarrassed for the scene I must have caused. I felt like such an idiot. But mostly I felt relief that Lindsay was safe and that I knew where she was. My baby was safe.

I thanked Mrs. Clegg and everyone there for helping me and walked out. Beth was there with Ryan and asked me if I had found her and I said yes. I was still crying and couldn’t stop. The panic had still not gone away. Beth told mem I was making her cry because it reminded her of when she lost her daughter, Malia, who is 4, in Sea World. Talking about that made her cry so then we were standing there crying together. As we were standing there, a car honked and it was Kori Crampton, another woman in my ward. She yelled and asked if I had found her. I was so glad I could say yes. Then my neighbor, Wendy McGee, came out of the school and came up to me asking the same thing. She said when she got to the school at 3:35 for her conference, Lindsay was standing outside waiting for her ride. Wendy asked her if she needed a ride or if she needed to call me and Lindsay told her that the Robertson’s were picking her up, but they weren’t here yet. Wendy didn’t think much of it because it was only 5 minutes after school got out and there was still plenty of time for someone to get there. Then when she was in the school, her daughter, Delaney, came up to her and said, “Mom, they’re looking for Lindsay.” Wendy was shocked because she had just seen her not too long ago. She felt terrible and told me she should have just called me right then and there. She gave me a hug and told me she was relieved she was safe and found. I told her thank you for her concern.

Sometime while I was in the school, oh right after I found Mrs. Clegg, Shanon called me back to see if I had found her. I told her I hadn’t and she said she was going to drive over to my house and make sure she wasn’t there. I gave her the code to the garage so she could get inside. After talking to Beth and Wendy, Shanon calls me again and I told her she was safe at the Robertson’s house. Shanon drove over there to get her and took her home. At this point Jeff pulled up at the school with Logan and I could tell him she was okay and safe. I was still crying.

I drive home and get inside the house and just hug her. I could not stop crying. I was just so happy she was here in my arms and that she was safe. She started to cry because the whole thing had scared her, too. I think it’s hard for a kid to see their mom crying hysterically like that. We’re supposed to be the calm ones. And just like that it was all over. And I was so glad.

After a few minutes of being home, Raymond called me and asked if she was okay. I said, Yes, she was actually at your house. Turns out he didn’t know that Miriam picks Lindsay up on Thursday. If he had known that he would have called me this morning and said that Whitney was home sick. Really it was my fault for assuming that Raymond was taking the whole week off of work to help out with Miriam. Raymond was in Salt Lake. He wasn’t even home to know whether or not Lindsay was there. But I didn’t know that because I assumed he was home. Doh! When no one showed up to pick her up, Lindsay went into the office and called Whitney’s house. Miriam’s mom was there helping Miriam, so her and Whitney got in the car and went to pick her up. Miriam didn’t know I had called Raymond. It was just a great big misunderstanding. And I pray that I never do that again.

As scary as that 25 minutes were, I was reminded again of what a wonderful neighborhood we live in. We are surrounded by neighbors and friends who care deeply for our children and who would drop everything to help when we need it. I ran into Paula later at the school and she said she got 15 or so texts asking if I wanted them to get in their car and drive around looking for her. I was so touched that people would do that for me and for Lindsay. I am grateful for Shanon, for her help and understanding. She has 8 children of her own and she told me that emergency text thing was invented for them. I’m grateful for everyone at the school who helped. I’m grateful for Beth for holding Ryan so I could run around the school. I’m grateful for Miriam for having her mom go pick up Lindsay when she is stuck in bed recovering from back surgery. I’m grateful beyond belief for our wonderful ward family. We genuinely love each other. Just as I was typing this, Jeff got a call from the Bishop making sure everything and everyone was okay.

But one thing I learned from this experience is that I need to listen to that still small voice a little better. If I had called or texted Raymond before 3:30 I would have known that they weren’t planning on picking her up and I would have been there. The whole thing would have been avoided. Lesson learned.

Thank you! Thank you to all of you! May I never have to experience that again.