I love you.
I met you three hours ago, and I donʼt even remember if I gave you my name, but I love you. You and your beautiful daughter are loved more than I can ever say.
You saved my babyʼs life.
Thank you weakens… Thank you cheapens the incredible amount of gratitude I feel for you now. Regardless of how dramatic this all sounds, and as creeped out as you may be by my declaration of love, Iʼm looking forward to getting to know you and your family, since I now know you only live a couple of houses away. And Iʼm about to give you a play-by-play of how my world fell apart in the space of ten minutes, only for you to swoop in, saving the day.
You see, at 4:25 tonight, I was slicing tomatoes in my kitchen. Just as I scooped them up to set them onto a round of homemade pizza crust, I heard a car honk. My husband had been getting ready to go for a run before he left for his overnight shift at the hospital. I donʼt remember an “Iʼll be back in a minute”, or a “Henry is in the yard, see you in bit.” I assumed he was still in the immediate vicinity, eyes somewhat watching Henry while he played.
4:25pm is when that car honked on the busy street in the front of my home. In that second, something in my gut immediately felt different. I looked up/out through the kitchen windows, not expecting to see an empty yard. I remember when the panicked confusion set in. I was running back into the house after I discovered my sweet Henry, just two years old this August, was not in the back yard. Sprinting through the yard back toward the kitchen door, I checked the front gate - locked. Padlock intact. My mind screamed “WHERE IS HE?!” I donʼt remember using the basement stairs, but I remember yelling to my oldest son James, who was watching a show. “WHEREʼS HENRY?!”
“I donʼt know, mama.”
Garage. Back upstairs. Bedrooms. Bathrooms. Closets. Checking windows (all locked). Shouting his name, over and over. Stop. Think. Where would he be. Garage again. Check cars. Trunks. Nothing. Back to James. Breathe. Calm down so you donʼt scare him. Practically dragging him while moving through the house, “Please, honey, help me look for your brother. Everywhere you can look, please go now, baby GO”. Seconds later, checking upstairs again, both of our voices calling loudly enough that I know even the traffic passing by could hear through the open windows. Still nothing. Trying not to vomit. I opened a bedroom window and screamed as loudly as I could with my face pressed into the mesh of the screen in hopes he (or anyone) could hear me. My mouth yelled his name but my mind was sobbing and screaming, “Someone help me please. Please. Please donʼt let him be dead. Please.” My breath failed me then. I was breathing faster than I ever remember, but nothing was getting to my lungs.
Screaming for him scared James. He started crying, so I had to stop to breathe with him and wipe both our tears away and calmly explain that I could not find Henry anywhere “…so please stay in the house while I look in the yard again and call papa. Okay, baby? Please promise
you will stay safe here in the house?” Outside again, I called my husband. Voice call failed. FaceTime worked. “I canʼt find Henry. Iʼve looked everywhere.”
“He was in the back yard when I left for my run.”
“I canʼt find him ANYWHERE!”
“Iʼm heading back.” Call ends.
My brain was screaming “Please. Please. PLEEEEEASE! Someone find my baby! Pleeeeeease!” I started hyperventilating again. Crying. Screaming his name on the street. Stopped to lean forward with my hands on my knees and cried for a moment, convincing myself as best I could that I needed to breathe or Iʼd die. But the feeling of losing one of my babies was getting stronger by the second, and I couldnʼt make it or my racing, terrified thoughts go away… “Heʼs going to be carried to me, dead. Or I will find him on this street somewhere, cars passing by like his life never mattered, and I will die of heartbreak. My heart will stop because I canʼt handle this… NO! Stop. Youʼre not that mama! Heʼs okay. I think. Think it into existence. Please! Please be okay!”
I ran around our house, up and down the sidewalks.
4:35pm- Called my husband again: “I STILL CANʼT FIND HIM!!!”
No longer able to hold it together, I collapsed to my knees on our street - hyperventilating again. I was crying too hard to see straight and holding back bile in my throat. I can honestly still taste it. I could hear James screaming in the back yard for Henry. That sound forced me to get up. “Keep going. Mamas around the world endure far worse than this. I can do this.” I looked to the front of the house, my husband finally sprinting through the yard. Headed to James. In that same moment, I remember feeling myself stumble sideways, maybe in relief knowing I wasnʼt alone in this pain, or from the insanity of feeling like my baby was gone…
I turned down the road, readying myself to scream for Henry again until I found him, pausing just for a second to catch my breath and clear my eyes… Then I looked up and there you were.
The best name ever.
You were holding Henryʼs hand. Your sweet, brave daughter was on the other side of him. You told me I could breathe, that it was all okay. I fell apart in a way I hope I never do again. I didnʼt know what to say then, other than thank you. I still donʼt. Those words will never be enough. It feels like something a preschooler would say after theyʼre given a piece of candy. I know that Henry found his way to your yard, not far from our home. I know how he got out of our fenced-in-yard. I know that some day, I might have to feel this way again…
But for now?
I need you to know how grateful I am to you and your little girl. Thank you for seeing him, and for bringing him home. Thank you isnʼt enough, and it never will be.
But thank you. And I love you.