It was just a second. Maybe two.
This afternoon, I brought my kids to the beach. My daughter was wading and swimming in the water as I stood nearby; watching and talking and watching and talking.
And then it happened.
I looked to the sandbar where she had just been moments before, and saw a gaping wall of emptiness. Silence where there had been a little girl, just newly 7 years old, in a pink striped bathing suit frolicking in the waves. Her young friend sat near my umbrella, and when I asked her of my Blair’s whereabouts, she replied that she was in the water the last time she had seen her.
If she was in the water then what if she drowned?! my mind thought, immediately thinking the worst.
I rushed towards the giant sea and scanned the waves, the horizon, the beach to my left and right.
Nowhere. She was nowhere.
I could hear my breath rush through my ears and my heart pounded visibly in my heaving chest. Where could she be?
I quizzed everyone around me, the faces joyful and laughing a minute before were now long and pale; hiding panic is always obvious to the panicking observer. I swept my eyes across the water once more, scooped up my toddler son and headed to the deck in my frantic search for the daughter that I hoped had somehow slipped by me, unaware.
I moved quickly through the hot uneven sand, and made it to the top of the deck, where I turned and looked longingly at the ocean yet again.
I wondered how I would be able to call my husband and tell him I had lost her.
It was only a few seconds and she was gone. Only a few seconds, I kept thinking.
And then, a small speck came into view; a tiny figure in the waves. There she was — my daughter walking towards me on the beach. The daughter I was so sure I lost, just seconds before.
I stifled a sob and breathed in deeply. I may have prayed, but I can’t be sure.
When I headed down the steps towards our house, I saw her small frame running towards me, dragging her old blue and red boogie board behind her. Barefoot as always.
The look on my face didn’t escape her, and it gave way to her own crestfallen expression. Her wide smile melted as soon as she neared.
She was going to get her boogie board, she said. She had told me, but I must not have heard.
I love you, I told her. I was worried, I told her. Next time, make sure I hear you, I told her.
Life changes in just a second, and that second chance was a gift that I will accept with open arms. A gift I will forever be thankful for and hopefully, learn from.
It was just a second.More On