two fridays ago, i took the kids to a new park in celebration of friday fun. we met with friends that reagan especially enjoys playing with. i love them too. they are some of the most accepting kids we encounter. the mom, julie, also tolerates me pretty well.
after spending time playing on the playground equipment, the boys ran off exploring in what can only be described as a sweaty herd of boys. reagan loves any game that involves treasure hunts, exploring or adventures. when we attend our regular park haunt, the boys often run off into the trees and look for snakes and do whatever it is that boys do. at this park, reagan attempted to do the same thing, but with less uneventful results. we could see the general area the boys were playing in, but eventually all the boys but reagan trickled back to the playground area. one friend announced that, "reagan is going into the forest but i didn't want to." i wasn't too concerned at this point, but julie and i collected the other children and we headed off to the woods in pursuit of reagan. when we reached the edge of the woods where the boys had last seen reagan, i could feel fear creep up and started to squeeze my throat. we were standing at the trail head and and i could see that the trail broke off into several different paths. the further along we walked, i could see that we were nearing a bridge and several areas of water. at this point i abandoned the group(sorry julie, who was now stuck with 6 kids) and i started running and shouting for reagan. there is a certain point when your wandering child changes in your mind's eye from, "that darn reagan!" to "where is my child and how did i let this happen?" for me, that was this point. my mind turning into a news crawler, thinking of kids lost who never made it back home, especially kids with autism who simply lose their way and are taken advantage of. as i was running through the woods, i was bordering hysteria. i passed a man and a woman who were finishing their hike. they split up and the man went one way and his wife and i went another. (will i be this kind when i encounter another person in need?) she and i started to run down the trail to where it ends at the river. halfway down the trail, i had a feeling of, "heidi, what are you forgetting to do?" i knew i needed to pray. the woman prayed with me. it was so wonderful to have someone hold hands with me while i poured out my soul in prayer. i had never met her before but at my suggestion, she immediately replied that praying was the right thing to do. tender mercies. as i prayed, i felt calmer and i immediately felt like we need to head back to the restroom area. instead, we keep heading toward the water. my mind seemed to think we had to check the worst case scenario first. but my heart kept saying, "you'll find him, but not this way." and since i was still not embracing the Spirit that was so obviously prompting me, i thought, "but how will we find him? elizabeth smart was lost for 9 months." again, i felt that we would find him. he was nowhere to be found at the river's edge. at this point about 15 minutes have passed, and i know this because i keep checking my watching, thinking all those things you shouldn't thing as each second ticks by. we started running back up to the trail and the park area. then my phone rings and it's a number i don't recognize. i almost let it go to voicemail but i pick it up. i yell into the phone like a maniac, "i can't talk right now, my son is missing!"(clearly very rational at this point). thankfully, the woman on the other end of the line is calm and replies, "i know, he's with me up at the playground. he said you were lost." and so i yelled into the phone again, "i'm coming!" and i run like i've never run before, in sandals and jeans and a lightweight trench vest(because it was april 25th, the perfect date "because it's not too cold and it's not too hot and all you need is a light jacket." my exact rationale that day.) sweat is pouring off me because it IS too hot. it's funny to me now that i was running even faster at this point, because i already knew he was safe. i just couldn't get to him fast enough. when i finally get to him i just hug the breath out of him. reagan is NOT a hugger so he only tolerated this for a few seconds. but he was safe! i asked him what happened and he said,
"mom, why did you get lost?"
i just wanted hug his little body more. i spoke with the woman that reagan had found to call me and she said that he approached her and asked if she would call his mom. the thing about reagan is that sometimes you don't know who you're going to get. we've practiced our address and my phone number and safety measures time and time again, and he always acted put off or like he wasn't listening. i think only a handful of times has he actually repeated my phone number back to me. the autistic brain is such a mystery! before that day, i honestly couldn't tell you if he actually retained that information. but when the time came, he rattled that number off like he says it every day. complete with a look of disbelief, "of course, i know your phone number."
i'm so proud of reagan.
i'm so proud of reagan.
he did the right thing.
everything we practiced, worked! i was scared, but now i know reagan is listening and learning. apparently, he just needed the right moment to put all the prodding from me into action.
i was so emotionally overwhelmed on that drive home. but i had to immediately pray and thank my Father in Heaven for watching out for my little family that day. thanking him for wonderful friends who like us and invite us to do things, for blessing me with peace, even as i doubted the spiritual promptings i was receiving. thanking him for giving me multiple chances to figure things out, thanking him for people who stop and help instead of running away from the raving lunatic woman running through the forest. thanking him for the Spirit that attends us, that it is just waiting for us when we need it.
i feel like right before Easter, i noticed an increase in negativity toward religion and the belief in a Savior. after experiences like one i had that day, it baffles me that anyone would choose to live so alone and reject the love of Jesus Christ. i know it was the Spirit guiding me that day, being patient with me that day. it's real. it's not hard to believe, we just have to stop thinking that we already know everything. the atonement is real, the resurrection is real. we're not alone and we are very much able to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven.