Fear and gratitude.
February 07, 2011

I blinked my eyes and she was gone.  Charlotte?

Charlotte?

CHARLOTTE?

And then I was screaming it, screaming her name, looking left and looking right, racing across the yard, peering behind the trash cans, checking the bushes, screaming CHARLOTTE! CHARLOTTE! CHARLOTTE!

Everything slowed down.  The world stopped.  My heart thudded.  My throat tightened.  Life focused.  Sound: laughing, down the street.  Sound: crunching, leaves under the cat’s foot.  Sight: flower, orange and bending in the wind.  Sight: bottle of bubbles, dropping from my hands, splashing on the driveway, spilling everywhere.

Sound: rumbling, a van driving toward my house.  Sound: panting, a dog across the street.  Sound: talking, two women walking together.  Sound: rumbling, the van coming closer.  Sound: screaming, is that me?  My voice?  Screaming CHARLOTTE!

Every sense was heightened and then I saw her, at the edge of the road, stepping forward, and I saw the van, and she was holding a rock and the driver couldn’t see her behind the bush and time stood still and all I could do was scream, scream STOP!, run as fast as my legs could carry me.

Sound: voices.  Sound: screeching.  Sound: yelling.  Sound: beeping.  Sound: car door slamming.  Sound: talking.  Who are they talking to?  Are they talking to me?  Sound: sobbing.  Sound: silence.

I held her so tight that she started squirming to be let down and then I said thank you, thank you so much, thank you to the stranger for seeing my child, for standing in the road, for telling the van to stop, thank you to the driver for stopping, thank you to the moon and the stars and the Earth and the heavens for sparing my child, thank you.  She rested her head on my shoulder, squeezed my neck, and I kissed her all over, kissed her until my lips were numb.  Cried and kissed and held her close against my heart.

She fell asleep at my breast that afternoon.  I love you, I whispered.  I’m so sorry I scared you, but I love you so much and I thought I might lose you.  I kissed the top of her head, rubbed the back of my fingers across her cheeks, nestled beside her and breathed in her sweet scent.  I love you, I whispered again.

When we woke up an hour later, she smiled.  Hi, she said.  I smiled back.  Hi, love.  And just like that, it was over.  We were okay.  I strapped her in the carrier and we walked to the store for more bubbles.  I said: Momma loves you, huh?  She laughed, cocked her head to the side, nuzzled into my chest.  Yeah, she answered.


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  1. By on February 07, 2011

    Oh my god. So glad she’s OK.

  2. By on February 07, 2011

    I’m so sorry you two experienced that.  I’m really glad she’s okay.

  3. By on February 07, 2011

    I don’t know you except through this blog, but I feel like reaching across the computer monitor and giving you a big hug.  I am glad you are both okay.

  4. By on February 07, 2011

    I just about had a heart attack reading that….so glad she is safe.

  5. By on February 07, 2011

    I’m teary just thinking about how that could’ve been us. Sending hugs and I’m sorry you had such an awful scare. What a horrible thing for any parent to go through. I’m glad she’s ok.

  6. By Katie on February 07, 2011

    Oh my gosh. What an awful, sickening scare. I am SO glad she is okay.

  7. By Alicia S. on February 07, 2011

    I can’t beleive you wrote about this today. She’s okay—But last week my neice was hit by a car. Luckily the driver stopped just in time to only barely knock her down. I picture this happening a thousand different ways everytime I walk out the door with my little ones. I’m so glad both girls are okay this morning.

  8. By christy on February 07, 2011

    what a shocking reminder to hug our kids 1000 extra times today.  there are so many dangers everywhere.  i’m seriously thinking about keeping my son on a leash until he’s 10 yrs old.  we have a pond in our backyard and a very busy street 20 ft from our front door.  if not a leash, then a cage.  glad to hear she’s OK. you have a lot to be thankful for!!

  9. By on February 07, 2011

    I am so glad she is ok.  I went through almost that same exact sequence but at a park last summer.  My then 2 year old daughter was going after a soccer ball.  There was a car coming too.  Thank goodness she stopped when I screamed STOP. 

    It’s so scary and I’m sorry you had to go through that.  I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

  10. By Mailis on February 07, 2011

    Oh my. *huge hug*

    I am SO glad it turned out ok.

  11. By Sarah on February 07, 2011

    oh honey, what an experience. HUGS

  12. By on February 07, 2011

    I am so glad to hear she is OK.  Reading your post put me there and I think as mother’s we all have those moments.  Give her lots of extra hugs today and get your hubbie to give you extra ones too.

  13. By on February 07, 2011

    Oh you poor thing. Hugs. So glad she’s safe.

  14. By Tracy Roberts on February 07, 2011

    beautiful Sarah….

  15. By erin on February 07, 2011

    I just about died reading this, until I got to the end, and then I just about cried with relief that your sweet girl is okay and everything is right again in the world.  I am so thankful that everything is okay and that she is okay.

    MIL and SO took us to dinner the other day; they were waiting in the bar for us and we let Hannah run around to burn off a little energy while we chatted.  It was still early: there was hardly anyone in the restaurant and we didn’t think anything of it.  Brian wandered off to use the restroom and MIl said something to me and when I turned around Hannah was gone and I couldn’t find her anywhere.  SO even checked the men’s restroom, because maybe we were panicking for nothing and Brian took her in there with him.  I hadn’t seen anyone come in or go out of the restaurant so she had to be there somewhere - if no one had left then no one could have taken her, right?  Because no one had left… right?  And then I wasn’t so sure.

    We found her the very next moment (fortunately before Brian came back, and I made MIL and SO promise to never breathe a word of that to him), and as the waiter led us to our table Hannah happily waved to all the nice people she had become friends with in her 30 second solitary sojourn around the restaurant, but I lost a life or seven right there.

  16. By Cynthia A on February 07, 2011

    Sarah, written beautifully with all emotion.  I am glad Charlotte is alright!!

  17. By Meghann (Bringing up Bumble) on February 07, 2011

    incredible writing, you made me cry

  18. By Lauren @ In the Pudding Club on February 08, 2011

    My Godmother told me that being a parent is just a string of near death experiences.  it broke my heart the day I found out she was right. 

    So glad you both are alright.

  19. By Carrie on February 08, 2011

    Oh goodness.  This literally brought tears to my eyes.  I’m so glad she’s safe!

  20. By Sally on February 09, 2011

    Dear Sarah,
    I’ve been reading your blog (and loving it) since not long after Charlotte was born, but have not commented til now.
    I cannot imagine how scary that must have been for you. So glad that your beautiful girl is ok and that your heart feels comforted after the nap time cuddles of that day.

  21. By on February 10, 2011

    Yes, it can happen THAT FAST. Scary doesn’t even begin to describe it. That’s why I’ve been known to stop my car, roll down the window and yell “HOLD HER/HIS HAND!!!!“ to parents walking across the parking lot….little child tagging along BEHIND the parents. Idiots. I’m so happy your scare was one with a happy ending.


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