There are a great many things I fear... The dark, the basement, bugs, snakes, anything smaller than a cat, being alone, being in a crowd, small rooms, closed doors, whatever could be hiding under my bed (probably a giant freaking spider waiting for me to step down with no light so he can eat my foot)... my list goes on and on because there are more things in this world that do scare me than don't but there is only one fear that inspires nightmares.
Last night I dreamt I was taking a shower with an alligator, which is ok because I am used to pushing my fears aside and doing what I need to do, I turned away to rinse the soap off of my face and when I turned back, a smaller version of the Goofy child had slipped in with us to play with the alligator. By the time I got the alligator off of him, he was blue. I blew into his mouth and he started breathing again.
I rushed him to the doctor's office, so very afraid that I was too late, and when it was our turn to be seen... I realized I had the wrong kid. *shrugs*, he needs to be seen anyway. Alex has ear infections in both ears. I walked out to take him to get the medicine and forgot, ending up at home arguing with Thing2 over him being the boss of his own life- which was the constant argument with Thing1, not Thing2 but it's never too late to change the game, right?
In all of this, I never noticed that the Goofy One was gone or that Alex was never treated. With each new kid, I forgot the one before.
This is only one version of the same nightmare I've had for years. The terror that comes with the knowledge that I failed my kids and they paid the price...
Yesterday, Mikaela Lynch, 9 years old, non-verbal, autistic was found in a creek not far from her home. I can only imagine the real nightmare her family is living now, but I know the nightmare they lived every day for the past 9 years. Knowing that your kids are a glance in the wrong direction away from disappearing. Knowing that there is life-threatening danger all around you and no matter how many fences you put up, locks you've installed, alarms put on doors, gates... things happen. Gates are accidentally left unlocked, the cable guy leaves the door open, your kid learns to climb just as you turn your back for a split second to take a phone call, run to the bathroom, get a glass of water...
The fear is smothering. It wraps itself around you so tightly you can't breathe, you can't move. You can't function, the fear blocks out everything, it becomes everything. To fight the fear, you stay on guard day and night. So exhausting. Minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day you stay on guard until the moment you start to feel safe and you let your guard down...
I have one kid who will walk off with anyone and one kid who will wander off alone at the first chance. This fear is a real fear. a rational fear. I know this because I have let my guard down and I have lost Alex. I was just lucky that I got him back safely. I was lucky that the car he ran out in front of was able to stop. I was lucky that the woman driver cared enough to get out and chase him several blocks. I was lucky that one of my kid's friends recognized their friend's brother and the Dad stepped out to catch him. I was lucky that there were people telling me where he went, pointing the way. I was lucky because that one glance in the wrong direction, that one minute spent with another kid, that one time the door was left unlocked... could have had a much different ending. And I live every day with the knowledge that next time, I might not be so lucky.
My heart stops every time I hear sirens, every time I hear a horn honk. I freeze in fear and I count my kids because next time might just happen today.
My heart goes out to Mikaela's family. I am so sorry for your loss.