The other day at the library, a lady who was hanging out in the kids' section near us suddenly became hysterical when she couldn't find her child. All of us immediately started looking for the boy, who was probably 9 months-ish. He was a proficient crawler, anyway.
The mom became increasingly frantic as we didn't find the boy, until one of the librarians came back a few minutes later with the baby in her arms. First, the mom embraced her child, said thank you, and then started crying. Then she asked, "Where was he?"
The librarian had found him on the third floor of the library. The children's section is in the basement. Judging from the short amount of time the baby was actually missing, we think he must have gotten on the elevator somehow. Though this raises more questions than it answers, since he obviously couldn't reach the buttons himself, and what kind of adult gets on/off the elevator with an unaccompanied 9-month-old and doesn't think twice?
I've never lost track of Miriam for that long, though there are always moments - terrible moments - when we lose sight of her for a few moments and it's almost as if your heart stops until you find her again.
But when I was a kid, I got good and lost for a decent period of time. In the woods, no less. It's one of my earlier, more dramatic memories, and what's kind of fun about it is that I've never really heard the whole story of what happened from my parents. So the way I tell the story, it still has all those nonsensical kid elements that may or may not be how things actually transpired.
I was probably around five years old, though it's possible that I was even younger. My family and possibly some friends or relatives (?) went hiking in a foresty place, probably the Columbia Gorge. I remember being determined to hike as fast as my older brother Blair, and so I was following him when he and whoever he was with took off onto a narrower, more overgrown path than the main one. They were too fast, and the path was too difficult for me. In an instant, I was entirely by myself.
I think I wandered around on the trail for a while, and then two male hikers found me. I remember one was bald and one had glasses, although maybe I just remember that one was bald and had glasses, and I have no idea what the other one looked like. In any case, they quickly figured out that I was lost and started asking me questions about where my parents were.
I don't remember how much time passed before I said I was thirsty and they took me down to a busier part of the trail where there was a stream. And this is the funniest part (to me) of the whole ordeal. The most traumatic part of the experience for my kid self was not that I was entirely separated from my family and in the care of two complete strangers, but that I would soon be forced to drink stream water. I even remember the guy dipping his canteen into the stream to fill it up.
But wouldn't you know it, at that very moment, or very, very shortly thereafter, my mom came running down the trail to rescue me. And that was the end of the adventure. Crisis narrowly averted, as far as drinking stream water went.
One of these days I'll have to ask my mom what really happened. Looking back, I realize how lucky I was that nothing worse happened. Though it's very possible I would have been scarred forever by that stream water. Ew!