March 28, 2013

to Hell and back in 90 seconds

We were watching our kids play at a park in Bangkok (one of the biggest human trafficking hubs in the world) when suddenly Zion, our 5-year-old son, was not there.

"Where is Zion?" I casually asked, although given the city we were in, my voice was already crackling with panic.

"Hmm, I don't know," Alisa said.  "He was just here."

I looked around until I saw Daniel, who was on the other side of the playground.

"Look for Zion!" I yelled.  Daniel's eyes grew wide and he dropped what  he was doing, joining Alisa and me as we sprinted through the playground, calling Zion's name, checking every slide, every tunnel.  We didn't see him anywhere.

Daniel took off at a dead run, away from the playground toward the 6-lane, 4-way intersection 75 yards away.  He later told me that he was searching the passing cars for a glimpse of Zion's head, though he didn't know what he would do if he saw him. 

At the time, I wasn't sure why Daniel was running for the street.  Zion is a cautious person and would never step out into traffic.  The only place I could think to run was the other playground on the opposite end of the  park.  It also wasn't like Zion to wander off, and I was going to be shocked if I found him there, but frankly, I was out of ideas.

As I ran through the park, screaming Zion's name, searching for my son's blond hair and blue glasses, I realized that I had just descended into Hell.  It was all I could do to keep moving, because the panic that was setting in was paralyzing.

"Oh God!"  I said out loud.  "Zion!!!!  Oh God.  Zion!!!!  Oh God.  Oh God.  Oh God."

And then, the sweetest sound I ever heard came drifting to me from behind a big tree.


There he was, looking a bit guilty, like he'd been caught with his finger in the frosting.  He had wandered off, after all.  He had not been taken.  He was alive.  I was back from Hell.

Even though this happened several months ago, I thought about it today, when I was reading a blogpost by a mother who has experienced baby loss.  Her advice was, "Hold your children.  Hold your children.  Hold your children."

So I've been holding my children today, pondering the blessing of having all four of them with me, alive and accounted for.  How dangerous - how tragic - to take any of the joy we are given in this world for granted.