When a loved one disappears it feels like an icy vice is gripping your heart. It clutches and clenches and it shreds and rips. Fear is a powerful emotion and when it is entangled with love then the terror of loss is amplified. There is a coldness that aches and throbs. Time seems distorted. Everything is a blur.
My boy had been missing for three days and his whereabouts were unknown. We did all the normal things of course – we called every friend we could think of and we checked his favourite haunts. I walked up and down the beach calling his name and dread gripped me as the waves pounded the beach and I sobbed in panic as I imagined each clump of seaweed washed up in the foam of the wake to be a tangle of tiny limbs.
The first night was the worst. None of us could sleep. There was this compunction to pound the streets and there was yelling and anguish as we tried to imagine where he could be, what was he doing, who was he with. There were accusations of fault and blame of course – and anger - we had all been so busy that we hadn’t given him the attention that he needed – that he deserved. We all get so caught up in our own little worlds.
I couldn’t go to work the second day and despite the lack of sleep I continued the futile search – pounding the streets, yelling his name until my throat was hoarse. I rang home regularly asking if there was any news. Had he been found or come home? We rang the Authorities and they methodically took all the details and asked lots of questions. They asked for a description and enquired whether he had done this before. We told them that he hadn’t and the lack of urgency in their response infuriated me and added to the building terror. The fear I felt was like acidic bile in my stomach and mouth and it burned with every breath. I never knew that grief could cut so deep.
A kind of numbness set in on the second night as I roamed the house. Each time I passed his empty bed a tight knot clenched in my guts and helplessness and the blackness of despair gripped and overwhelmed me. We jumped at every phone call hoping that there would be good news but it was only friends and family wanting to know if he had been found or had come home.
I didn’t think that I could sleep at all but I must have dozed off and I woke feeling dazed and confused. We decided that it was best that I go to work on the third day. I would be called if there were any news. That afternoon my phone rang and I heard those two words I had been waiting and praying for - “he’s home”. Relief gushed out of me in great sobs and I struggled to grip the receiver with a shaking hand.
“Is he hurt? Is he OK? Where has he been?” I asked in a trembling voice.
“He seems to be fine. He is tired and dirty and he just walked in the house and went straight to his bed”
I left my office immediately and drove straight home. I sped all the way. I screeched up the driveway then rushed into the house and even though he has fast asleep I hugged him long and hard.
“I thought we had lost you forever mate,” I whispered.
I released my hold as ire overcame me.
“Where were you? Do you have any idea how worried we have been?”
Big doleful eyes locked with mine and his tail thumped twice before his eyes closed again.
It didn’t really matter. Nothing mattered anymore.
My boy was home.