This morning, I told The Rock Star that we were going to drive for a little while and meet some friends at a park. I made him guess who we were going to see. When he finally, quite exuberantly, howled, "Timmo!" and I confirmed that this guess was correct, he declared, "Yes! This is the best day ever in my life!"
Better than Disneyland, those friends of ours.
We went up to the park. Garrett played and ate lunch and then asked if he could explore the ravine behind the park with his pal. Since his pal is like six and a half years older than Garrett, I was fine with that. And then they didn't come back. And they didn't come back. And they still didn't come back.
So we took ourselves into the gully and walked around calling their names. Once we were down in it, we realized that it was a lot bigger than we'd thought. We went to one end of it and found no trace of our boys. Then we returned to the park to make sure they hadn't gone back. They hadn't. There were a lot of kids playing down in the ravine so I really wasn't overly worried but after awhile my mind started going to that place where all manner of horrible thoughts cross it. What if somehow they got hopelessly lost down there? What if Garrett got separated from Tim and Tim is trying to find him? What if they got turned haround and went up the other side, away from the park? My friend went back into the ditch and walked in the other direction while I waited at the park in case they returned.
Just when I started to get really worried, the kind of worry where I imagine my child returning to me and blubber and clutch him to my chest and scream, in a Bronx accent, "I thought you were dead!" And then he'd say, "You watch too many movies, Ma." (And, seriously, 100 points to the first person who can name that film.) So...I was hovering near the point where, if my friend returned without our kids, I was going to call the police and make them send a helicopter to call out my kid's name and tell him to, "GO TO YOUR MOTHER RIGHT NOW!"
But then I saw them coming toward me.
And Garrett was sobbing. Hysterically. His legs seemed fine so I automatically thought he'd broken a wrist or a collar bone or something. Something that would make our upcoming trip miserable. I didn't even have a chance to gather him in my arms and tell him not to scare mommy like that ever again because he came right out with it.
"I LOST MY POCKET WATCH!" He bellowed.
His pocket watch that was a gift from someone in our church. After he admired it Sunday after Sunday, a man in our church gave it to Garrett and told him to take good care of it. His pocket watch that is, quite seriously, my son's most prized possession. A pocket watch he takes everywhere and shows everyone. Gone.
The reason the boys had been gone for so long was because, in the middle of their trek, Garrett suddenly clutched his pocket and shouted, "My pocket watch!" And they'd taken to searching the ravine high and low for it.
I asked him why, on earth, he'd put his pocket watch in a pocket without Velcro or a zipper and then climbed around in the foliage. Garrett cried hiccuping sobs, "I don't know!" he yelled. It was, quite seriously, a time of deep mourning. I was starting to think that our next step was to break out the sackcloth and ash. I'm not entirely sure he'd cry any harder if someone told him that I had passed away. He'd probably be all, "Sad. But she's with Jesus. This makes me think of the time I lost my pocket watch." And then he'd start mourning that watch all over again.
We searched the car. Allison and Tim searched the ditch again. Garrett, Kim, Matthew and I searched the park area. "Are you absolutely sure you had it?" I asked. He was. We searched more. And, when it was time to leave, he continued to cry and demanded that I leave him there, at the park, to continue his search.
I finally had to pry him away from the scene of the tragedy. I'd already called Troy and both of us were very sad. I wished he would have lost a much less important belonging so that we could use it as a teachable moment but the grieving period would be shorter. Troy considered going up to the park to look for himself. But, I explained that it would be like looking for a needle in thirteen haystacks.
Garrett cried, off and on, for most of the way home.
It was terrible. Worse, even, than when he dropped his weenie whistle in the Truckee River and, let me tell you, that was a bad day.
It was a devastating lesson for my five-year-old to learn. We don't put our most prized possessions in our pockets and then take them out to play.
So it's a good thing he didn't.
Troy found the pocket watch between two chairs in our family room.