We were the only ones in the park, as park season hasn’t officially started, and all enjoying ourselves after another successful Walk for Autism event.
I went over to the grill to see how the spare ribs and chicken were coming and chatted with my husband, aka: the grillmaster, for two minutes.
Walked back to the picnic table where I had left Brian among family.
And he wasn’t there.
I frantically started asking my family, “Where’s Brian?”. Everyone looked around and responded with the similar phrase, “He was just here”.
I dropped my plate and started running towards the ocean screaming Brian’s name.
Instantly my entire family split up, all in different directions.
In a sea of 21 family members, who all love that boy immensely, he managed to slip away.
I kept looking over my shoulder just hoping I would see someone waving and yelling that they found him.
My heart somehow had found it’s way to my throat and was pounding like mad. I was shaking all over.
My legs kept going though, faster and faster.
I kept screaming his name. Each “Brian” coming out louder and more panicky than the one before it.
And then, there he was. He ambled over the hill where the swing sets were. Just walking calmly, not responding to our yells, no hurry.
I ran to him and fell to my knees. I blinked back the tears as I used my harsh Mommy voice to tell him over and over again he needs to tell Mama or Colin or Grammie or anyone that he wanted to swing. He looked through me as he echoed my words back to me. Not a single reprimand really getting through the receptive language wall.
My husband and Corbin had reached me at this point. My husband grabbed the both of us and hugged us- I could feel his heart pounding through his shirt. He ran his hand through my hair as he whispered, “Are you okay?”.
We yelled up to the rest of the family who were all spread out over the entire park.
We walked back up, hand in hand. My hand threatening to never let go again as long as I lived. My legs felt like jello. My heart was still in my neck. And the tears kept threatening to just stream down my cheeks. My stepmother ran up to me, hugging me, “Are you okay?”.
Everyone knew that my biggest fear just felt like a reality. For thirty seconds, which felt like an hour in slow motion, I lived my biggest fear.
If you have a loved one that wanders or elopes please, please, please order yourself a Big Red Safety Box from NAA and check in with your local police station to see if they have a database for wanderers and add your loved one. All it takes is five seconds of looking the other way.