A Scare: A Mother’s Worse Nightmare

It was a sunny day and the children were playing on the beach. A four year old in an aquamarine tutu played in the sand. My daughter played with this girl’s older sister. I watched the kids lazily with half shut lids. It was calm and quiet, a perfect day. Suddenly there was a commotion. The child in the tutu was missing. It happened so fast. One minute she was there, the next, she was gone. The mother walked along the beach and screamed hysterically, “Where is she?”

“We’ll find her,” I said with a surety I didn’t feel. I had been in this woman’s shoes a year ago when we lost our son at Disney World. I understood the panic, the heart wrenching fear that nothing will be the same, the horrid thoughts of a mother’s worse nightmare. I ran to get help and asked everyone along the way, “Have you seen a four year old Caucasian in an aquamarine tutu?” My brother-in-law and my daughter who is a lifeguard (thank you City of Mississauga) dived into the water and searched. My husband scanned the water as he walked along the beach. Time seemed to pass slowly. Many people helped. Others stood around, shook their heads dumbly and didn’t move. I wondered about this lack of compassion. Why didn’t everyone spring into action? Perhaps they didn’t care or they had never experienced what we had, to know that time was of the essence.

Luckily the child had only wandered down the beach and realized she was lost. She told a stranger who held her hand and looked for her mother. When her mother saw her, before she could wrap her in her arms, she collapsed on the sand bawling. It ended well but as with all of life’s moments, it left its indelible mark. We watched our children more closely. We hugged them a bit tighter. We talked about what ifs and I was more grateful for life than I’ve ever been.

In Better Spirits

A few months ago, my mom and stepdad came to Canada to visit us. They fit into our harried routine, cooking, cleaning and looking after the kids. One night when I had to take my daughter to dance, my stepdad offered to come for the drive. “Are you sure?” I asked. “It’s kind of boring. I wait one hour in the car listening to music, writing or sleeping.”

“I’ll come,” he said.

The dance class is in a small plaza with an Irish pub. We laughed as we drove past the pub, saying that we should be sitting in there. “Why don’t we?” I said. So we did. We sat in a small Irish pub, drank a beer and got to know each other again, the way we used to when I lived in Jamaica and we had all the time in the world to sit on his balcony overlooking the sea and chat. The time flew by and the hour passed in what seemed like minutes. Now, every time I take my daughter to dance, I miss my stepdad. It reminds me of family and good times and how we need to break away from our routine and do something different and fun. The Irish pub is a lot more entertaining than waiting in the car, especially with winter coming. So here I am waiting for my daughter to finish dance again. It’s after eight. This time, I’m not waiting in the car. I’m sitting in the same Irish pub listening to the laughter of the bartender, the hockey game on TV and the few patrons sitting at the bar. I’ve got my glass of red wine. I feel like a real writer. I don’t know what a real writer feels like but in my romanticized version of reality, Hemingway wasn’t rushing kids across town, making lunches, crawling into bed at ten, eleven or twelve feeling like he’d been run over by a truck and then getting up at the crack of dawn to rush to work (well, not really the crack of dawn but far too early for me). Back to the Irish pub, soft country music is playing and a stranger has introduced himself as he leaves the pub saying he hopes he’ll see me again. An elderly man with an accent from somewhere in the British Isles says, “Girl, you type faster than I think.” And they say Northerners are cold and unfriendly! The bar is cosy and for just an hour I imagine that I’m travelling the world again, sitting in Australia or New Zealand, or somewhere exciting, and I don’t feel rushed or harried. The hour is flying by and I’m in much better spirits. This is so much nicer than waiting in the car.