It's been a busy weekend with my in laws visiting and celebrating Daniel's (almost) 15th birthday. I've been away from the keyboard for a while. But I had to write about Wednesday, the pit in my stomach, the flashback.
Wednesday I went down the hill with Nora to Dominic's bus stop. The bus came along at the normal time, and our neighbor Crystal got out. The bus driver, Mr. Buck, looked in the rear view mirror. "Dominic!" he called. Dominic is sometimes a slowpoke getting out of the bus. "DOMINIC!" Nothing. "Hey, kids! Is Dominic back there?"
No. Dominic is not on the bus.
Mr. Buck said, "Look, he probably just missed the bus. Why don't you call the school, I'm sure everything is okay." I ran up the hill with Nora cursing the fact that this one time I forgot to put my cell phone in my pocket (Nora was saying, "why wasn't he on the bus? where could he be? do you think he got off at the wrong stop? And I had to tell her to stop talking before my brain exploded.)
I called the school and Dominic was right there in the office. His teacher thought he was a walker that day (that's another story), so he went to the walker door. When no parent came to claim him, he was brought to the office. It all turned out okay, just as it did 9 years before...
...when Daniel was 5 years old and in kindergarten. School was released early because there was an awful snowstorm. I waited at the window because I could see the bus coming from there & run out to the stop easily. Nora was 2 at the time, and although I don't remember why, maybe she was sick, I didn't want to have her standing out in the snow waiting like we usually did.
The bus was late, late, late. Finally, I see some kids from the bus stop walking by, but the bus was nowhere in sight. I called out the door to one of them asking where Daniel was. "I don't know," was the reply. Mind you, I'm questioning a 2nd or 3rd grade kid... "Was he on the bus?"
"Yes. I think he got off somewhere else."
"You think or you know?"
"I don't know!"
"Why didn't the bus come?"
"The driver said she couldn't make it up the hill."
So I went into the house & got my coat. I told Nora to stand at the bay window and DON'T MOVE and watch for mommy. I ran down the street in the direction the direction the kids came from calling Daniel's name. I saw no one. He just wasn't there. I ran back to the house (Nora was rooted in place, good girl) & called the school. They put me on hold while they checked out what was going on. It seems there was a substitute driver that day, and she was having trouble negotiating the neighborhoods. She did not make it to all the bus stops. She did not know who Daniel was, and had no idea where he got off the bus. The bus driver's administrator told me that they would drive back through the route looking for him and that I should stay by the phone.
I paced for about 2 minutes. Fuck that. My child was lost and no one knew where he was. He didn't know his way through the neighborhood, and even if he did, it was snowing hard enough to be disorienting. I entered full freak out mode. I bundled up Nora and was prepared to go street by street through all the local neighborhoods. I was walking out the door when the phone rang. It was a neighbor of mine from a few streets over. Her first words to me were, "I've got him."
Daniel had gotten off the bus with a friend of his. They knew that the bus wasn't going to the correct stops, so he decided to get off with Gabbie so they could be together. A 4th grade girl led them to Gabbie's normal stop.
My neighbor drove Daniel over to our house. I sobbed in relief, hugged him, and then gave him a stern lecture about getting off the bus at the correct stop.
And last week, even though everything was resolved with Dominic very quickly, my stomach hurt the rest of the day, just from the power of that flashback. It hurt until I went to yoga and could work out the knots.
It's so scary to lose your kid.