I lost Ivy.
For the longest and most agonizing five minutes of my life, I was certain she had wandered into the woods and fallen into the lake that sat nestled in the mountains just behind the cabin where my family was staying. Kids were everywhere. Excited to see their cousins, they were running up and down the hallway, around the outside of the house and then back in again. It’s hard to explain the feeling that possessed me the moment I realized that Ivy was no longer among the other children. Logically, I knew that she couldn’t have made it very far on her own.
But I wasn’t thinking about logic.
All I could think of was water. The lake was so close and she was so small and it was turning so dark so quickly. What if we didn’t find her? That’s all I could think. What if I never found my baby girl?
Of course, we did find her. My brother-in-law, having found her at the edge of the driveway and not wanting to leave her alone, took her along on a walk down a path that wound through the woods, then eventually circled back around to the lake. The path took them just far enough away that for several minutes they were unable to hear our frantic cries as we shouted Ivy’s name into the trees surrounding the cabin. But then, he did hear us and I ran and ran and found them, and hugged her, and punched him and willed my heart to slow down.
Sometimes I am astounded at how deeply the roots of my children go. Pushed in deep, they are tangled and twisted and worked so thoroughly into my heart that they are me, and I am them. That’s why I was so scared when Ivy was missing. I knew that if she were to drown in that lake, I would be drowning too. When my children are hurt or scared or discouraged, I feel it, keenly, intensely, desperately, even.
It’s hard. It’s hard because life is hard. It’s risky to love so completely, to open your heart to others when in a moment, just a brief moment, everything can change. People can get lost or get sick. People can make choices that pull them away from us. Sometimes people can leave us for no reason at all. When I think about losing these pieces of my heart, I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to open myself up to that risk. Except, now it’s too late. They’re in there already and reality requires me to accept the possibility that while life is generally good and wonderful and joyful, it is also full of sadness and pain and loss.
It wasn’t but five minutes that Ivy was missing. It was nothing, nothing when you think about what could have happened, what might have gone wrong. But it was enough to remind me to thank God for every single moment I have with my children, to hug them tight and kiss their faces and remember that their presence is a gift that should never be taken for granted.