Monday, April 05, 2010

Puerta Vallarta

Day two of our trip to Mexico has just come to an end. Dalton is sleeping next to me in a sun-induced coma. I could kick myself. I thought I was reapplying sun block. And he didn't look red in the sun. But he is like a little tamale. I immediately have a small panic attack where I imagine that this could be the burn that gives him melanoma, and he dies, like my Uncle and his teacher's father last week, of cancer. Really, what the hell kind of mother am I?! Shelby's not bad. My back looks like a red fruit roll up, but the rest of me is ok. Gavin looks like carnage as well. It's done. Geez. So, I will stress, and my blood pressure will go up, and then I will try to put it out of my mind and hope to high heavens that no permanent damage has been done, and hope that we will all wake up tomorrow with skin that doesn't hurt when you touch it.

We are in heaven. Garrett is home with Grandma, and hopefully he is still alive. Dalton and Shelby spent the day on boogie boards, chasing waves, making sand castles with new friends, eating virgin Miami Vices (best invention on the earth) playing in the hot tub, swimming in the pool, and collecting shells. Dalton and Gavin paid to get whiplash on the giant banana boat today. Dalton now wants to go parasailing and he and his dad have booked some jungle tour where they zip line through the jungles while Shelby and I go to pet dolphins.

For about three minutes today, it was the worst day of my life. We lost Shelby. Just typing it puts the lump back in to my throat. I was up by the pool laying out. Gavin was watching them at the beach. I came down to tell him that the food I had ordered for lunch had arrived. He asked me where Shelby was. I told him that I had no idea and I hadn't seen her since the last time I'd seen him, which was fifteen minutes ago. Good lord, does that mean she's been missing for fifteen freaking minutes and he has thought that the whole time she's been with me?! That is immediately what I thought. He said that he was going to go look for her. I saw Dalton and he said that they couldn't find Shelby. He had obviously been sent to go look for her, with no success. Gavin came back from the other side of the beach with no Shelby.

You could see all the way down the side that he had gone to and there was no trace of her. The water held no little girls. Just a few adults floating far out in the dark waters. Towards my end of the beach there was a man made jetty that people walked on top of to pose for pictures with the ocean behind them. No one up there. There were teenage boys playing by the water behind me. I asked them if they'd seen a little girl in a bikini. They said no. It was at that point that I thought the thought "She could be gone." Gone had a couple possible scenarios. She could have drown. She could have been climbing on these rocks that make up the jetty, that she'd been climbing on the night before when we'd taken a walk on the beach, and slipped and fell in to the ocean, with the same outcome. Or she could have been taken. Being kidnapped in Mexico is not the craziest thing you have heard these days if you watch the news. So my mind is darting back and forth between these scenarios, and I am out of my body. In my soul's place is grief. As much of it as can completely consume one's self.

And my next thought isn't pretty. I thought I hate Gavin and this is all his fault. I think I thought about how I could never forgive him. And even though I knew rationally that this could just as easily have happened to me, I thought that without Shelby I would never be happy and therefore I could never be happy with Gavin because I would always blame him for loosing her. And then I thought about adopting another little girl or having another baby girl, because you know how women always say that they don't want to have permanent birth control because what if one of their kids died. And I thought about it, and it absolutely did not make me feel one bit better. I knew that twenty daughters could not take the place of her. And the grief grew.

Gavin looked down the beach at me, to see if I had had any luck and I motioned that I had nothing. What I wanted was a gun to shoot him in the head with. I imagined nets being drug out to sea, in search of my little girl's body. I was about to scale those rocks and go in search of the beach that was on the other side of the jetty. Call the hotel staff and alert them that a little girl was missing. I had reached the point of full blown hysterically calm panic. I turned behind me to see the men who peddled their wares along the resort front's beaches during the day. They were crouched in the shade of the hotel property's wall, with their carved wooden figurines and brightly colored bracelets scattered around them, and what appeared to be a child crouched beside them with his back to me.

AT THAT INSTANT my heart beat again. How long had I been without a pulse? An eternity? I SCREAMED "SHEEELLLBYYY". She turned, looked at me, and ran like her life depended on it. My mind immediately took in the situation to scan for any sign of foul play. The men just looked up at me and returned to their conversation. I gaged that she had been playing and wandered over to the resting men to examine what goodies she could plan to hit her dad up for later on. She had lost track of time. And the screeching of her name brought her back to reality and the awareness that she had not asked permission to go so far, and she hadn't seen her family for a long time. Note to self that "stranger danger" obviously has not sunk in to this little one's head, especially when the "strangers" have sparkly little trinkets in the shape of animals that they are toting around at eye level.

The first second I saw her, I was flooded with relief and wanted to embrace her. The next second I had thoughts of teaching her a lesson so that she knew how serious it was to go wandering off and talking to strangers. I thought that I should spank her right there. The only other time I can remember thinking that thought was when she darted out in the street without looking. I don't spank. But when I have the desire, it is out of fear for my child's safety and the desire to send a message about the gravity of an action so that it never happens again. So, just as I was getting ready to threaten a spanking, she started to faulter. The sand had become cripplingly hot. Each step was more noticeably painful than the last. Just as she was about to reach me, she lifted up her arms, beconing me to lift her out of that hot sand, with tears in her eyes. I scooped her up and held her. Her limp little body clinging to mine. Her head burried in my neck. I could not talk. I held her. The thought that just moments before I feared I might never do again what I was doing at that second.

I walked her towards Gavin. Dalton saw me and I told him to get his dad and tell her that we'd found Shelby. Gavin found us at the shower where I had sat Shelby down so that she could wash off her feet from the hot sand. Gavin asked Shelby where she'd been. I told him over by those men. Gavin became immediately suspicious about what two grown men would have been doing with her. He grilled her on what they were doing. She replied that she'd been looking at their animals. He saw them still there, with their hats low on their brows, resting in the shade with their wares spread about them, and sensed that the situation must have been harmless enough.

We gave Shelby the third degree and tried to scare the living daylights out of her, so that she would never want to leave her hotel room unaccompanied again, let alone wander off on the beach and into the company of total strangers. Who knows if it worked. She sulked as she ate her lunch on her beach towel, and barely had it in her to slurp down another Miami Vice. She was sent to time out in the form of walking in to town to get flip flops with Gavin. I warned, "No treats. This is a time out." But what was I thinking? This was Gavin, and to be honest, he was feeling that he deserved just as much of a time out as Shelby did. So, it was no surprise that they came back with big grins on their faces from a shopping trip that was nothing close to a time out.

We were noticeably on edge for the rest of the day. The kids played down in the sand and both Gavin and I sat on our beach chairs, at attention, as if they could disappear like a mirage in the sun at any second if not for our constant and unbreaking gaze fixed on them. Late out of the pool, late getting showered. Late down to the restaraunt. Late in our dinner being serverd. Late eating. And late to bed for all of us. 9:30 PM by the time Dalton crashed. We are all beat. The waves crash in the background as the kids breath noisily in their sleep. My butt is so burned that it hurts in these crisp white sheets. I have to go wash the makeup off my blotchy face tonight, in the hopes that tomorrow brings not only energy, but even skintone. Here's to hoping. And here is to safe kids snug in bed right beside me. Oh, and Gavin showed me pictures of his parents home that his sister had sent to him. A 7.2 earthquake near their home. Thankfully no injuries in his family and very few casualties from the quake. Life certainly is fragile.

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