I checked my phone just because I couldn’t go all day without looking at it.
It was hard for me to check at it at work. First of all, I really wasn’t suppose to because it could interfere with patient care and second of all, it reminded me of all the fun things going on in the world of social media without me.
I expected just to see the normal icons of emails, tweets, and unread posts in my reader but this time my phone showed a missed call and a voice mail.
I looked around to make sure that no one was watching me and I quickly unlocked the phone and started pushing buttons to find out who the call was from.
The caller id said, ‘Elementary School’.
I looked at the time on the monitor screen above me and it said 5:24pm.
Hayden was long out of school. I wondered why school was calling me.
This was just too curious. I couldn’t leave the voice mail unanswered for the next 2 hours while my shift at work came to an end.
I looked around again to make sure that my actions were still unnoticed and then I slipped into the unit’s conference room to listen to the voice mail.
“You have one unheard message. 3:53pm. Yes, hi Jennifer. This is Cathy from the bus garage. There is no one at the bus stop to get Hayden. Just wondering what we should do?”
This was really weird.
Our sitter, Kimmy, was suppose to be at the bus stop to get Hayden off the bus just like she had done for many weeks before.
This was not how the afternoon was suppose to go but I figured that since the bus garage couldn’t get a hold of me, they must have gotten a hold of Jeff, who’s cell number is also listed on the emergency contact form, to come and get Hayden.
I decided that I needed to call Jeff just to make sure that he had Hayden and all was right in our little world.
“This is Jeff,” Jeff said in his standard greeting when answering his phone.
“Hi, its me.” I said. “Do you have Hayden?”
“What?” Jeff said and I could tell that his mind was racing trying to figure out what I was talking about.
“Is Hayden with you?” I asked again.
“What? No.” he said, “Is he suppose to be with me?”
It was in that moment that my knees went weak and my mouth went dry. I leaned on the wall for support, fearing that at any moment I was going to fall over. My mind was racing. So many thoughts flew through my mind.
Where was Hayden? Was he on the side of the road? Did someone have him? Who was he with? Was he at the house? There is no phone at the house. What if he was alone and someone took him? What if he was hurt? What if he was sad? What if? What if? What if?
I could barely focus when I heard Jeff’s voice cut through my cloud of confusion.
“Why are you asking me if he is with me? Wasn’t Kimmy suppose to get him off the bus like always?” Jeff asked voice steady and calm.
I took a breath but as hard as I tried I had no control of the speed or volume of which the words emptied from my lips, “The bus garage left me a message almost 2 hours ago, saying that no one was there to get Hayden off the bus. I don’t know where Hayden is.”
“I don’t know where Hayden is,” I repeated my voice almost a whisper.
“Well, first thing we need to do is call Kimmy,” Jeff said in his take charge voice.
Fumbled with my words, “I don’t have, I don’t know, where is, her number is…” I tried.
“How about, I call Kimmy and you call the bus garage and see if anyone is still there and then call me back in 5 minutes,” he said.
I nodded but it never occurred to me that he could see it.
“Jen,” he said, “I am sure everything is alright.”
The words hung in my head, ‘everything is alright’ as I tried to make my fingers focus on finding the phone number to the bus garage at Hayden’s school.
I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I felt sick like at any moment my stomach would empty itself of all the contents.
I remember the time Hayden rode off on his bike when my mom and dad were watching him. He got lost on the unfamiliar streets and no one could find him for about an hour. This is how she must have felt. Thank God, he was found unharmed and safe but how she remained calm and focused for one hour, I will never know. I was going on minutes and I felt like at any second I was going to loose it.
Then as I hit the button to make the call, the mommy guilt hit me like a ton of bricks.
What was I doing here at work? Why was I not there to get him off the bus. That is my job as his mother to make sure he was safe. It should be my only and most important job, the safety and well being of my son, not the heath of these people. These strangers. I am his mother, it should be me getting him off the bus. I should have been there.
Just as the guilt got to the point of suffocation, a voice came on the line.
“Elementary school bus garage,” she said.
I was surprised at my composure as I explained who I was and my story. Then I waited for her reply.
“Oh, yeah. I heard about that. I believe he got off at the next bus stop with the baby sitter,” she said.
I hung up the phone.
Closed my eyes, let the air escape my lungs that I had been holding here, said a prayer of thanks and called Jeff.
“This is Jeff,” he answered.
“They said he got off at the next stop with the sitter,” I explained my voice sounding funny to me.
“See, everything is alright,” Jeff said.
“Did you talk to Kimmy? What happen?” I asked almost too fast but I couldn’t help it my mom mode was in overdrive.
“I actually got her voice mail but I am sure that is because she and Hayden are downstairs playing and not because they are dead in a snow bank. Its all right, he is home where he belongs,” Jeff said.
I knew that I needed to believe him. I knew in my head that he was right. The fact that she didn’t answer because they were playing was logical and true but my heart had a hard time believing it.
We said our good byes and as I put my phone away, I glanced at the clock again.
One hour and fifty eight minutes until I would be home and able to hold my baby.
Then my heart would finally know that everything was alright and my sigh of relief would come.
This post is part of Writer’s Workshop