Granted, Daniel and I had never agreed on a phone call every day from Hong Kong, but he and the boys had been calling me every day all the same and I was expecting yesterday to be no different.
At 5:30 p.m., Brave and I arrived at my friend Amy's house, who is also without a husband at the moment. I had movies and Orville Redenbacher in my overnight bag. She had made mango sticky rice (my FAVORITE) and we were excited to put our babies to bed and relax. When 7 p.m. came and went with no word from Daniel and the boys, I started to wonder. 8 o'clock came, 9 o'clock went, 10 o'clock ticked by. Knowing that Hong Kong is known for its night life and that little boys don't go to bed early when they are away on weekends with their dad, I tried not to panic. They would be returning to the Hong Kong Hostel any minute, where they would have WIFI and would be able to Skype me. At 11 o'clock, Amy and I both looked at each other with concern. We clicked off the movie we were in the middle of watching, never to turn it on again, and I tracked down the phone number for the Hong Kong Hostel.
An annoyed desk clerk answered the phone. I asked him to go to Daniel's room (which had no phone) and knock on the door. I knew they had probably turned in hours ago, after forgetting/deciding not to call me, and they were probably fast asleep. I knew it would aggravate Daniel to have someone pounding on his door at 11 p.m., but I HAD to know whether they were tucked in safe-and-sound. Those were my babies over there in Hong Kong and, even if they were with their daddy, a mama can't rest until she knows her kids are OK.
I could hear the clerk pounding and pounding on the door. "Nobody here," he said gruffly. "I leave note to call wife."
Now it was my heart that was pounding and pounding. Daniel would not have kept our little boys out until 11 p.m. When the clock hand clicked past 12 midnight, I began to panic. By now he would certainly have returned to the hostel. Amy and I jumped into action at that point, as I fought the terror that was closing in on my mind. Amy called her husband. I called our friend John. We were tracking his phone and wracking our brains and praying and trying to come up with SOME REASON why Daniel and the boys would be out in the city of Hong Kong past midnight. At 3 a.m., the hostel clerk was asked one more time to pound on the door, as loudly as he could, but again there was no answer. Wherever they were, they were not coming back tonight.
Most of the time the mind is the enemy in situations like this, as it races to conclusions as improbable as they are horrible. For the first time in my life, however, the situation was the enemy. 'This is it,' I thought with a dread that literally made my skin crawl, 'tragedy has finally found me. I am becoming a victim at last.' I thought of Shari and Kerry, and I wondered how they would survive anymore than they already had. I wondered about Jubilee. Was I going to change my homestudy status to "single mother with one child" and bring her into a nest of despair? I paced the floors, long after Amy had retired to her room. I rocked back and forth on the bed, wringing my hands, praying the same prayer over and over and over until it seemed I would grow hoarse, "G0D, please give them back to me."
At 7 a.m., after not sleeping at all, I called my dad and mom. That is when I lost my composure, unable to hold back the tears any longer. I cried and cried as my dad soothingly assured me that he was SURE everything was OK. His words weren't founded in anything other than his authority as my dad, but that was enough to relieve some of the agony I was feeling. I gathered myself again and promised to call them as soon as I heard anything.
At 8 a.m. Amy and I were drinking our strong black coffee on her 4th-story deck, holding our babies and watching the morning traffic. Suddenly my cell phone rang. I answered.
"Babe," came the sweetest sound I had ever heard, "We're FINE. We've been asleep in our room here at the hostel since 9 last night."
He had just woken up, found that his phone had finished charging, checked his emails and discovered all of my desperate messages from the last 12 hours.
"I didn't call you yesterday because I never had a good place to get on Skype. Everything's fine."
"But," I said shakily, a thousand emotions washing over me at once, "you weren't in your room. He checked many times, quite loudly, saying that you were certainly not in your room."
"He must have had the wrong room," Daniel said simply.
There you have it. Some guy neglected to double-check a room number, resulting in The Worst Night Of My Life. Granted, none of it would have happened if Daniel had called yesterday, but then Daniel could argue that none of it would have happened if I hadn't phoned the hostel at 11 p.m. To which I would argue that any mother would have done the same. Those are my babies. You better be telling me how they're doing, now:)
After Daniel and I hung up the phone, I said to Amy, "Nothing could dampen my spirits on this day!" The joy I felt was indescribable. I spoke a little too soon. On our way to the shopping center to celebrate, I got violently ill riding in the passenger seat of the taxi, and after we got out of the car I proceeded to decorate the landscaping with what I had eaten for breakfast. When I had nothing left in my stomach, we got back in a vehicle and went right back to Amy's house, where I stayed, sicker than I'd been in a long time, for the rest of the afternoon. Amy thinks it was carbon monoxide poisoning from when we were stuck in a traffic jam in a low, hemmed-in part of the city. Maybe it was.
Or maybe I had literally gotten worried sick.
One thing's for certain. I won't be doing ANYTHING tomorrow but holding my husband and children. Though they were never really lost, they were lost to me, and I am getting them back.