You don't know fear

He is sleeping in his cradle three feet from you. He has caught his first cold which has settled into his chest. He stops breathing. Your heart tightens. You jump up ready to do the mouth to nose breath of life, when he suddenly draws a raspy breath. Uneven breathing. You do not sleep. Instead, you hover over him all night

You don't know fear

He is eating noodles in his highchair, sliding them onto his fingers like monster nails. He is giggling as he sucks one off his thumb. His eyes grow big. His face turns red. He is choking. Your stomach grips hard. You dive over the laundry basket, fling the highchair tray away, will your fingers to work as you unbuckle him, slide him head first face down over your knee with your palm on his chest, and with the other firmly strike his back three times. Your body is shaking as the food flies out and he begins to cry.

You don't know fear

He is playing "catch me if you can". Peeking his face out from behind the shed. "Boo" he says as he runs away laughing, runs right into the path of his brother who is on the down arc of a very high horse swing. Your heart stops beating. Time stands still as your legs suddenly feel like lead, not fast enough to reach him before the inevitable happens. You gasp as you watch him launched into the air with his cheek split wide open. Your body trembles when you reach him laying so still in the grass, and trembles some more when he starts screaming as the doctor sews him back together.

You don't know fear

He is running down the field with the ball tucked under his arm. His face is determined, you can feel it through his mask. You are excited and proud for him as he heads down the field for a possible touchdown. Then from out of nowhere a larger player heads straight at him. His head down, they collide. He falls to the ground. The attacker gets up. He does not. Teammates start to gather. He does not get up. The coaches surround him. One looks up to the heavens hands out. He does not move.
Your heart is in your throat. The color drains from your face. You are cold and shaking as you make your way down the bleachers to the field. You are running across the field as the ambulance starts it's siren. Your breath is held when you reach his side.
"Mom, I'm scared". He whispers through pale lips... "His neck is injured. We think he damaged his spine, we're taking him to the hospital, he may be ..." the voice trails off.

You don't know fear

It's time for him to be back from his friend's house. He's a little late so you send his older brother out to get him. He comes back and says he isn't there. You think about who his other friends are and start going to their homes, one by one by one asking if he is there. He is not.
You fight off the beginning nibblings of fear that grow with each home you visit.

"No, I'm sorry, he isn't here" "No I haven't seen him"

It's now three hours past the time he should have been home and no one has seen him.
You pound the pavement calling his name in the wee hours of the morning praying to all that is holy to you to protect him from harm. It starts to rain and you think in the back of your mind that he forgot his raincoat. You fight off fear and panic with each passing moment, with each bathroom stall you check, with each shower you check, with each dumpster you peek into. You hold your breath with each door you open hoping he is not there and hurt or worse and the fear grips you around the throat and the panic takes hold of your lungs and you fight back the tears determidly walking the streets shouting out his name

Your neighbors curse you for disturbing their sleep and shrug their shoulders when asked what they would do and tell you to stop the shouting before they call security. You want to scream at them and shake off that damn apathy because you child is missing and they don't care and they don't help and you don't understand because if the situations were reversed you would be out knocking on every door with them.

The panic is growing tighter and you are becoming frantic as you run from place to place continuing to call out his name, searching under cars and under campers and under bushes and retracing steps and looking again and you hear the echo of your footsteps bouncing back at you and the splash of your feet in puddles. Relief floods you with every pile of garbage that is only that and NOT your child and your fears overwhelm you as time ticks by interminably slow and still you can not find him. Security can not find him. All the friends have been checked and he is not there. You are bordering on hysteria because you are helpless and your fears have overtaken you. The what-ifs have taken control and you don't feel the cold or the wet as you slide to the ground beside another dumpster sobbing uncontrollably because all you can envision now is his face on a milk carton and there is not a damn thing you can do...

And now security is telling you to go home, go to sleep and wait until morning because maybe he'll show up and if not, then they will call the police. They tell you not to worry everything will be fine and you want to laugh harshly because everything is NOT fine. There is no way in hades you will be sleeping but you stand up and walk back anyway.

You are numb. So you lay in bed and watch the red numbers change minute by minute, hour by hour. Every sound causes you to bolt upright in the hope that it is him and you sob when it is not and you hear the rain beat down hollowly on the roof of your home and you hear every creak, every sound that is not him and you wait. When the sun comes up you start the search again going into the woods and crying out with every mound of dirt you see that upon closer inspection is only a bike jump and with every stump in the distance your imagination fills in until you get close enough to only see it is a stump and you tremble and you cry and you breathe when your body makes you because your breath is held.

and then you finally find a friend who says...."Oh yah, he was sleeping over Eric's last night." You race over to Eric's and find him there and you collapse into tears of relief and all you can do is hold him and cry and hold him some more... You are drained. You are spent. You are relieved. He is safe.

Until you have your own child, trust me when I say, you do not know fear. Would I become a parent again knowing this worry? Damn straight I would.

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