I have now had five days to pull myself together, process, and can now blog about Saturday night. The night we lost Tanner. Yes. We lost him. On Balboa Blvd. In Newport Beach. It was the world’s longest 15 minutes ever!
Allow me to back up… I arrived at my brother’s new place that he and Jeniece will reside at as married folk, in Newport Beach. It’s adorable and homey and a beach bucket’s throw from the sand. You get the point. We will be camping there all summer. I came straight from a photography class (more on that later) to relax before helping get dinner ready for my mom and grandma in honor of Mother’s Day.
Bryan arrived shortly after with our boys, freshly napped, snacked, and cute as could be. Tanner wearing his new shark shirt and Ty, in a Tanner hand-me-down shirt, proclaiming, ‘Lock up your daughters!’ We chatted for a bit, and then Bry and Drew went to find a parking spot in busy Newport and quickly grab something at the store. On their way out the garage, Tanner chased after, asking if he could go.
“Hurry,” I told him. “Go with them.”
Jeniece and I proceeded to gab about anything and everything the next ten minutes until the boys returned.
Bry took one look in the room and asked, “Where is Tanner?”
“He’s with you,” I said.
But his eyes already said it. He was not with Bry. “I thought you had him!”
The next 15 minutes are ones I hear about on the news and see on movies. They are in slow-motion and fast-forward all in the same sprint. Out of body.
The four of us literally bolted onto the streets and took off in different directions.
“Have you seen a little boy about this tall? Curly blond hair… he’s wearing a shark shirt? Have you seen him?”
Neighbors came out of their houses. People started joining the search. Someone yelled about calling the police.
And all the while my mind is racing… He knows his full name. He knows his age. He can tell people who he is looking for. Running. Another block. No Tanner.
I know he won’t go on the main boulevard because he has to hold an adults hand when there are cars. I know he won’t go by the water, cuz it’s too cold. Another block. No Tanner.
I know we will find him. I know he will be okay. But then the ugly voices came…what if someone grabbed him? What if he is crying and we can’t hear him? Another block. No Tanner.
And then, Bryan runs by… THEY FOUND HIM! Four blocks down, the police had been called by a sweet lady and her college daughter who had come across a little boy walking down the street, sippy cup in hand, curly mop, wearing his shark shirt and looking for “daddy and Uncle Doo.”
My heart! My boy was found. My Tanner! We grabbed him. Gently enough not to scare him, but strong enough to smell him and frame his little body with ours. He was home!
After thanking the sweet women and hugging every neighbor that had helped search, we walked back to the beach house, praising Jesus! Sweet Tanner had been found.
The rest of the night was a celebration. Yes, for my mom and grandma. But more of a celebration that Tanner was where he should be. With our family. Complete. I couldn’t stop staring at him. Thinking about his funny quirks. His obsession with closing doors. That Guess How Much I Love You is our book. That he loves dip-dip with everything. That coca-cola is a special treat with Papa. That every night before he goes to sleep, I kiss him and tell him, “You make my heart smile.” The list goes on.
On the drive home that night, we praised him for doing such a great job telling the ladies his name, and who he was looking for. We coached him on coming back in the house, should that happen again, to tell us that daddy and Uncle Doo had already left, instead of going on a hunt by his lonesome. Bryan and I even laughed about how polar opposite we are in emergencies… he freaks out and goes into search mode, and I get very calm, and think rationally and almost turn unemotional. Weird.
Once home, I laid in bed with Tanner for an hour. Playing with his hair. Praying for him. Crying silent tears over my first born. Thanking and praising Jesus that he was safe, and with us.
And I was reminded of this: he is not mine. He is God’s little boy. And I too, am God’s little girl. But I feel like I’ve wandered a bit myself. Down the block. Doing my own thing. Good things. But being busy. So it was not only a wake-up call as a parent, but as a daughter in Christ. When was the last time, I laid on the couch and poured my heart out to my Heavenly Father? Or cried to Him? Or read His book? Or sat in awe of His sunset?
I fully believe circumstances happen in life to either awaken us TO God, or make us numb and push us away from God. I want to run towards Him, yelling my name, recognizing Him from afar and feeling at home in His embrace. Just as Tanner was to us. That day we found him. On Balboa Blvd. Sippy cup in hand. Curly mop. Shark shirt. Ours.