Daughters, Nightmares, and Tears

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A saga about my daughter:

For months I’ve felt like I needed a good cry. No, not a little drip coming down my cheek at an emotional fake death in a TV show. A good, solid bawling session.

But for whatever reason, it never seems to come. Maybe it’s not who I am. Maybe I’ve been damaged by society’s expectation that crying is not the “man” thing to do. Regardless of the reason, I want it. I feel it would be good for me sometimes. But it just doesn’t seem to happen.

The Tears were Flowing


And yet there I was. Just a matter of days ago. Slumped on the ground of a random Jerusalem street, with tears on my cheeks.

It felt somewhat relieving and cathartic. But God knows, it was not the way I wanted this to happen.

How’d we get here?

The Call to Never Get


I was at the gym when I got a call from my oldest daughter, asking if I’d seen my youngest daughter recently. I hadn’t. We discussed what was happening, went over the basic possibilities, and slowly but surely I grasped that my nine-year-old daughter hadn’t been heard from in two hours. No one knew her whereabouts. And one of life’s greatest nightmares had just begun for me.

I got extraordinarily frantic and ran right out of there.

And thus began several hours of panicked daughter hunting. Looking around in every corner we could think of, making phone calls, talking to the police, asking anyone who might have a clue, and leveraging social media. And for what felt like a lifetime, I wandered the streets of Jerusalem, hoping and praying for a miracle. Hoping that I would turn a corner, and I would see my beloved daughter there with her infectious smile and a reasonable explanation for what had happened.

But I had no such luck. And the frenzy raged on.

The Responsibility of a Parent


I didn’t allow myself to be hysterical or emotional. I wanted to be. It would have been completely natural.

But a parent doesn’t get such a luxury in a time of crisis. When a kid is injured, lost, or suffering in any way, you need to balance yourself. Pull yourself together to do your extraordinarily vital job to the absolute best of your ability. So even though you may want to scream or cry, they aren’t options. They’ll slow down your ability to think quickly. Or they’ll create further unnecessary panic.

So your role at that moment is, essentially, to feel nothing. Or to feel as little as possible.

And even though my emotions were running high, and my heart was certainly racing, I kept myself centered and took absolutely no breaks as I looked left and I looked right, begging for a quick and extremely favorable resolve.

When a kid is injured, lost, or suffering in any way, you need to... pull yourself together to do your extraordinarily vital job to the absolute best of your ability. Click To Tweet

The Release


And then she was found.

Turned out there was some dopey miscommunication. Somebody thought they told somebody something. Who’s right? No one will ever know. Frankly, it doesn’t matter in the slightest. All that matters is she was safe and life was restored to its normal craziness.

And at that moment, I started becoming human again. I wrote to everyone I had panicked and told them things were OK. And then I felt like I couldn’t walk anymore. And my emotions were finally allowed to express themselves.

So I sat down in the middle of the street. And I cried.

All the thoughts and feelings I had suppressed for the last few hours hit me at once. And it was paralyzing.

The Parent Gamble


It’s hard to be a parent.

It truly is the greatest gamble you can ever take upon yourself. Yes, it can be tremendously rewarding. And for certain, there is a potent existential question about why we do anything in this world that can successfully be addressed by referring to passing along our wisdom, spirit, and possessions to our precious progeny.

However, parenting certainly isn’t easy. And the risks are many!

You could have a child who decides to never speak to you again. Or they could join a gang, become a serial killer, or who knows, even a vegan! And the challenges can be staggering.

But they all melt away at moments like these.

Overwhelming Love

That day was horrific. But it could have been worlds worse. And in a few hours of immense fear and pressure and pain, my overwhelming love for my children was renewed once again.

And I sat there on the ground, face all wet, contemplating how grateful I am that I have their magic in my life.

Credit Where Credit’s Due

Now I’d be remiss if I didn’t give an enormous shoutout to my community.

My son missed the whole saga. He was at his school working on a project, and no one thought it wise to interrupt him until it was 100% clear that a real problem was afoot. On his bus ride home, a friend asked him if his sister was OK. And he, with a perplexed look on his face, said that she was.

But he had no idea what was going on or why the friend was asking.

In searching for my little angel daughter, we asked around a lot. We didn’t go so far as to put something on a large social media forum, not wanting to cause mass panic. But we put out a few feelers here and there. Spread the word to a few people and to a couple of small groups.

And news spread like crazy!

My Community: What I DO Love

I was still getting calls and texts later that evening. People were doing exactly as they should in a crisis situation, in every way imaginable. They didn’t make it about themselves. They didn’t waste anyone’s time. And the legitimate concern was tangible.

In general, I don’t love my community. And my disdain for my city is well documented. If you’re looking for a quiet, affordable, smoke-free environment with decent driving and parking, this might not be the right place for you. However, in times of crisis, they pull together like nothing I’ve ever witnessed before.

I hope to God I never taste even a fraction of the pain I felt that fateful day. I hope no one does! However, if there should be a panic, justified or otherwise, everyone should be blessed to be in a place like this, with people like this.

It really is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed.

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