We lose things in our family. Swimming goggles. Socks. Our patience with each other. We’ve almost lost Jon twice.
The first time was at our Ugandan university home, which is generally safe except for the snakes and wild monkeys and irritating birds that tend to hang around such institutions of higher learning.
‘So, where is Jon?’
‘We don’t know,’ said Liz, my daughter, a couple of years older than her brother. ‘We’ve been looking for him for 20 minutes. We don’t know where he is.’
The park, his friends’, our house – all checked. No Jon.
Jon always tells us when he’s going somewhere. Liz looked worried. Really worried. She looked at me with eyes I’ve never seen before.
That got me concerned. I checked the house. Then outside. No Jon.
We live on a 90-acre campus. That’s a fair space to cover.
We started running in different directions. Just like the thoughts in my mind. Maybe some snake or crazy monkey really did get my little boy.
Have you ever worried that you’ve lost a child? Ever thought of the news reports? How life might or might not go on?
JON!! WHERE ARE YOU!?
We looked more, ran everywhere outside, made calls, got more worried, more frantic. JON!!!???
Liz was starting to go crazy. I could tell how she was screaming his name.
I went back in the house. It’s not a big place. Just one level to check; no upstairs, no basement. Jon’s room, quite tiny. I checked the bathroom. Checked everywhere. My pulse raced.
Went to his bedroom again. There’s just no place to hide here. The bed, too close to the floor; no space to get under.
I opened the closet. Just clothes hanging. Just a child’s stuff. Stuffed animals.
Up on a top shelf, up higher than my head, there was an extra blanket. I pulled it back; threw it on the floor. There was Jon. Sleeping.
The little dude was up over six feet high, laying curled on a tiny closet shelf, behind a blanket, sleeping.
‘How did you get up there?’ I later asked. ‘I climbed,’ Jon said.
‘Well, your sister was pretty worried for you,’ I said. ‘You should have seen her. I never knew she loved you so much.’
Liz looked at me like I was from Mars. And all was well again.