In the Moment of Lost

It was a glorious day at the beach, on the first day of our family vacation.  My in-laws were there, as well as sister- and brother-in-law, nephews, niece.  Our three daughters were in heaven as they played in the sand and surf with their beloved cousins, their collective ages between 4 and 10.

Kids at the Beach

All was well with the world.  The kids were playing in the sand right down in front of us, and walking back and forth to the water to fill up their buckets.  They were all together, and directly in front of us, right?  So we didn’t worry. We thought we were watching closely enough.

I can’t remember who said it, but the next sentence stopped us all in our tracks and set off three minutes of pure panic, that felt like an hour.

“Where’s Little Pea?”

And there was at least 3 hours of silence as we looked.  OK, 3 seconds, but it sure felt like hours! And then the panic set in.  The adults and older kids spread out on the beach looking for her, and it took every ounce of strength inside me to keep breathing.

Little Pea with her Seaweed collection

Little Pea with her "Seaweed Collection"

So many things went through my mind in those long minutes.  I saw her face that morning as she climbed into bed with me to snuggle, as we usually do.  I heard her sweet voice, with the slightly mispronounced Rs.  I saw her joyful eyes, and remembered her tiny baby-frame in my arms 4 years ago.  Her whole life was flashing before my eyes. “Is this what happens when you lose someone?” I thought.

Then I saw the future without her.  I really did.  In my heart, I was pondering how I would live without her… if she was gone.

I looked at the water, and asked God if she was under there.  I looked at the others on the beach, and thought that maybe one of them had snatched her.   And all I could do was pray.

Actually, I couldn’t even pray.  All I could say was, “My God!” over and over again.  No, not saying His name in vain, but crying out to Him.  I tried to keep myself under control as I asked fellow beach goers if they had seen her- glad I had payed attention to which bathing suit she wore that day.

The beach seemed like it was a million miles long at that point, how could we cover it all?

And then, I saw her.  She was about 25 feet away, crying, looking for us.  Among the many tan beach tents out there, she had gone to the wrong one. I wished I could just teleport over to her and not have to make the walk, I wanted her in my arms NOW!

My heart was pounding and tears were streaming as I gathered Little Pea up in my arms and smelled her.  Yes, I breathed in every bit of her that I could at that moment.  I thought I would never put her down.  I went through a range of emotions:

Guilt at not keeping more vigilant watch.

Anger at the older kids for not staying closer to her. (Really, how could I expect them to? They’re kids.)

Gratitude to God for keeping her safe, when I couldn’t.

Deep, profound sadness for parents whose stories don’t end like mine. Even now, as I write this, I am weeping for them.

But now, I try to remember this moment when they wake me up at 3AM, when they fight with each other, when they want to help cook dinner and spew flour all over the kitchen.  I realize now, that I am not fully in control of my life, or theirs.  I want to drink in every moment that the Lord allows me with these beautiful girls and loving husband.

And trust Him… which is hard sometimes.

Pinnix Girls

About Sarah Pinnix

I'm a mom, blogger, vlogger, libertarian. I love Jesus, and my husband, too. Social Media Strategist for a Non-Profit (All statements here are solely my own)

Comments

  1. So with you. Those experiences have a way of rocking my world too.

    It also makes me wonder if, when we get to heaven, God will show us all the times we were *this close* to tragedy but He stepped in and covered us without us having a clue.

    [Reply]

    Sarah
    Twitter: reallifesarah
    Reply:

    So true, Amy! So thankful for His watchful eye!

    [Reply]

  2. Donna S
    Twitter: donnashenk
    says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. What a great reminder to truly enjoy every moment we have with our children. My heart goes out to you, so sorry you had to go through such a scary event!

    [Reply]

  3. It’s so hard sometimes, knowing that they are in His hands and not ours at all. So very hard, the idea that at any time He could take them from us…because they are only on loan to us after all. Because how can you love something so fiercely and still be able to let them go, to entrust their care into the hands of Him who created them? So glad you found her.

    [Reply]

    Sarah
    Twitter: reallifesarah
    Reply:

    Right, Sarah. I suspect I’ll have the feeling of losing control more and more as they grow up.

    [Reply]

  4. Oh I know how you felt! This happened to us last year with M at Ocean Isle. I literally dropped to my knees and had the people around us on the beach start looking for her. We really thought she had went out into the Ocean. I cried… I just didn’t know what to do and one gentleman found her up at the pier trying to chase her beach ball. As he yelled at us to say he found her… my heart just mushed. I ran and grabbed her and we immediately left the beach and I just held her and we both just sat there and cried. I never want that feeling again EVER!

    ((HUGS)) Sarah!

    [Reply]

    Sarah
    Twitter: reallifesarah
    Reply:

    OMHGosh, Jen! It is SO scary, isn’t it? We found out that at Myrtle Beach, you can ask the lifeguards for wrist bands with their guard stand number on it. That way, if someone finds them, they know where to bring them back.

    [Reply]

  5. Awwww what a wonderful day!!! Enjoy your holiday! 🙂 We leave tomorrow.

    [Reply]

    Sarah
    Twitter: reallifesarah
    Reply:

    Have a great vacation!

    [Reply]

  6. laurie@livelaughlove says:

    Oh I hate those moments of panic wondering and worrying. It’s amazing how quickly we can imagine the worse. Glad it turned out okay.

    [Reply]

  7. Brooke McGlothlin
    Twitter: brookewrites
    says:

    Sarah…sweet mommy. I can feel the panic with you friend. I know it sounds silly, but when my little guys drove away from our house on the bus to go to VBS this summer I felt the same way. I knew exactly where they were and where they were going, but I still felt this panic…a sense of being out of control and unable to protect them. It’s a terrible feeling. But it’s so much closer to the truth, isn’t it? Really, we have no control other than that which God gives us over their lives.

    So glad she’s ok.

    So glad God gave you a heart to cherish through it.

    [Reply]

    Sarah
    Twitter: reallifesarah
    Reply:

    It does not sound silly! Each time I travel away from the family (or they from me) I have to push those feelings down (give them to God really). It’s so hard to balance our protection with letting go of control.

    [Reply]

  8. Oh Sarah,

    Those moments are terrifying, and they do last an eternity! So glad for how your story ended, and thankful you are using it to remind yourself and us of the blessings in every day!!

    [Reply]

  9. Teri Lynne
    Twitter: TeriLynneU
    says:

    Sarah, I too have felt that fear and panic. I imagine all mommies have at some point. Thankful it ended with your girl in your arms … and thank you for a poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the necessity of treasuring each moment.

    [Reply]

  10. Kerry LM
    Twitter: mkerryann35
    says:

    Wow. I know the feeling all so well. In 2006 I was pregnant with our third child. At that time our son Christopher was 4 years old about to turn 5. We also had our oldest son with us as well. A regular family day – decided to go to a mall. My husband wanted to go to Books-a-Million bookstore. I was already tired and pregnant so had to rest a minute but had my eye on my two boys. I remember sitting in an area where I was able to see them. My husband came up to me and showed me the book, I glanced a way for a second. But that is all it took. The mall was packed with folks. I turn to look where the boys were but I only saw my oldest son. I immediately reacted and asked my husband ‘where is Chris?’. He looked up and there was no Christopher. I knew exactly what he had on and I got up searching. We looked around the area- I went to the information desk – asking have you seen a child wearing a blue and white stripe shirt w/blue shorts, low hair cut? answer was NO. We looked everywhere, we didn’t think that he would go outside of the store. Pregnant and in a state of panic – that was me, still watching closely at the oldest, my husband trying to stay calm. I guess he figured if he lost it then I would go straight out of my mind. But I was almost at that state. We were just about to contact security when Christopher came rolling in from outside the bookstore. He just walked through the doors like nothing happened. I stood there for a minute because all that went through my mind as awful thoughts (someone has him, he went in the streets, he is crying wondering where is his parents…..). I prayed within me for God to send our child back to us. I promised to keep my eye on them every Milli-second. When I saw Chris I hugged him so tight – I sat him down, we all sat down, then I carefully spoke to him and told him not to ever walk out of any store without us ever again. I had to be gentle enough not to scare him, but my heart was in my throat. Anything could have happened, but God was in control- because we weren’t.

    [Reply]

  11. That is SO scary. Maybe it’ll remind me to be more vigilant… though I know we can’t expect to be able to be everything to everyone (in other words, perfect). I trust Him, too – but I pray I will never experience the pain of losing a child. I’m so glad it ended well for you! And just reminded you of what a special gift you have. 🙂

    [Reply]

  12. Yoly
    Twitter: cuponeandolive
    says:

    This is the worst feeling. I still can remember like it was yesterday and this happened 13 years ago. I took my lil sister with me to the mall and in a split second I had lost her. My heart sinked and all I could thought was how horrible of a sister I was and how I would tell mom or dad for that matter. It took about 3-4 minutes until the security guard brought her to us.

    We are so blessed our stories had a happy ending. **Hugs**

    [Reply]

  13. I hate those moments of panic. I’ve been through it myself and you wonder how you’ll go on if you don’t find them but pray so much that you do. I can’t even imagine how heart wrenching it must be for parents whose stories of panic over a lost child don’t end like ours. I’m so glad you found your daughter safe.

    [Reply]

  14. Fadra
    Twitter: allthingsfadra
    says:

    I got chills with this one! I could feel every emotion you were feeling. Sometimes I force myself to take stock of every little nuance so I never forget. We really do need to treasure the moments we have. Glad everything turned out okay.

    [Reply]

  15. Oh sweet friend. I’ve been there.
    When your mommy heart just sinks and it feels like everything has just gone crazy.

    Soooo glad you found her and all is ok.

    [Reply]

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