A parent's nightmare.
Hand dropped for split second.
A glance in the purse.
Then gone, she's disappeared.
Yes, truly a parent's nightmare.
My nightmare come true for a whole 3 minutes (which, by the way, feels like eternity).
This is the story of Matthea's disappearance at the Taipei airport.
We got there early, checked in, and still had time for breakfast at Burger King. We went through security, immigration, and got to the gate with no problems.....we had the stroller.
Time came to board. Kids got their bags, we got ours, I pushed Matthea; still no problem.
Ran the boarding passes through, got Matthea out of her stroller, folded it up and laid it by the others...problem began.
First, they scanned the wrong boarding ticket for Uwe.
Second, they noticed that he was not a US citizen and wanted the "Pre-approved" document. (Thankfully, he printed that out just before leaving the apartment)
Third, I dropped Matthea's hand and pulled out the documents.
Forth, she was gone.
No where to be seen.
Not behind us.
Not waddling down the long hallway towards the airplane.
Of course I ran down to the plane and saw people boarding, but she wasn't there. In my head I thought, "There is NO Way she could have gotten around them that fast. Plus the flight attendants would not have let a child board alone, especially a special needs child."
I ran back to the wide-eyed family and airport personnel looking at me expectantly.
I shook my head back and forth.
My head began to spin, heart began to race, stomach began to form knots. My non-verbal, mentally slower child was gone....how was she going to yell for help if she needed it?
My ever so calm husband asked if I looked on the plane.
I shook my head, turned and raced back down the hallway.
I stepped on the plane. My doubtful, yet hopeful, gaze racing down the only aisle searching.
Adults lifting carry-on baggage.
Eyes dance back and forth at each row.
Adults in large cushion seats reading magazines.
Adults sipping on juice.
A flash of a child's red hair in the last row of cushion seats.
Sigh, I found her.
Sitting by the window with her backpack beside her, she smiled up at me; pointed out the window and signed "airplane".
Sigh, smile, relief.
We walked back up the long hallway and retrieved the rest of the family and together, all five of us, walked back on the plane to our seats.
As the plane backed out from the gate, Uwe looked at me and said, "At least she has class sitting in business, huh?"
I smiled and shook my head in disbelief at what had just happened.
I have written part 1 because in the past two months I have experienced "lost" in my life. So, stay tuned for part 2 and what was lost on the return trip...