Saturday, November 5, 2016

Close Calls

Several times I almost lost Everett, or might have, or thought I had.

When he was just a toddler, he followed other children and their dad into a lake after my husband took him down to the shore, decided to visit an outhouse, and left Everett by himself. But the other dad wasn't aware of Everett; he was busy playing with his own children, walking deeper into the water. Fortunately I was watching from a distance, higher on the beach with Emil, who was slowly making his way with his walker across the hot sand. The moment I saw Gord abandon our baby I sprinted to the shore and waded into the water, catching up to him just as he stepped into a pothole and his head disappeared underwater. Thank God I was right there to reach in and pluck him out. Thank God Thank God Thank God.

Once we came out of the post office onto the sidewalk in Legal, Alberta, where we lived for seven years. I had a hold of Everett's little hand, but he pulled it out of mine and ran into the street so quickly I didn't have time to think. I froze as a big delivery truck screeched to a halt, with him right in front of it.

One sweltering hot day I told Everett, who was two or three, that we were going to the store. As we were getting ready, the phone rang and I answered it. After the conversation, Everett was nowhere in sight. I called in the house and around it, then began going to the neighbouring houses. Two doors down lived Joe and Helen (best neighbours ever ever ever). Joe hopped onto his quad and began searching the alleys and drove downtown; maybe Everett had set out without me. After his first reconnaissance of the town he came back with his report — no sighting yet — and went again. Helen stood with me in their driveway, and I stood beside her near tears — could someone have taken him? — until I saw a shadow through the front windshield of my van, parked in the street and facing Joe and Helen's driveway. I hadn't thought to look there! I'd planned to walk to the store, but Everett thought we'd be driving. And there he was, my boy, crying in the heat of the vehicle, unheard, unable to open the sliding door to get out. Oh what relief to find him there, oh how stupid I was for not looking there in the first place, oh how flushed and warm he was, oh what might have happened had I not been standing where I was and seen him! I carried him into the house and we sat on the step, him in my arms, both of us weeping with relief.

When Mom was sick and we moved to Kelowna to be with her and Dad, the boys were enrolled in schools there. I drove Everett to his on the first day and went in with him, and was told where to pick him up at the end of the day. When 3:30 came around, I drove to the bus stop and waited. The schoolbus came and went without Everett getting off. I followed it until it stopped again, and asked the driver where my little boy was. He had no idea. He radioed the school. They had no idea. Well, I got back into my vehicle and lost my mind. I drove to the school in tears; practically in hysterics. What if he'd gotten off somewhere else? He didn't know our phone number or address in Kelowna yet, and I pictured my lost little boy at the police station or picked up by someone else, someone who shouldn't be picking up children on the street. It was horrible — another taste of what parents of missing children experience — until the school finally located him. The teachers had put him onto the wrong bus, and finally he was brought back to the school after the bus dropped off all the other children along its route.

When I think of any of those times I still feel the sick horror in my belly, all these years later.

A favourite picture of my sweet Everett, the darlingest little boy, thrilled to pick berries from my garden.

I'm pretty sure I've written about all those close calls before, and if you've followed this blog for any length of time you're already aware of the stories above. The risk of repetition is strong here, and becoming stronger year after year. I no longer remember for sure what I've shared and what I haven't, and just plunge on in, hoping for the best. Thank you for your patience as I become a little old lady repeating herself!

Everett is 24 years old today. I went to town last night to get Emil for the weekend, stopped at the grocery store to buy a key lime cheesecake and then dropped it off at Everett's house. He doesn't celebrate birthdays, he says, doesn't want any fuss or gifts or extra attention. But I'm his mom. I can't help myself. I handed him two new pairs of thermal socks we figured would be good for him to wear at work, since he is in and out of the building all day, and he seemed glad to get those. In spite of not seeming to want company when I called a few minutes earlier to say I was coming over, we chatted enthusiastically before I said I had to go because Emil was waiting in the car.