And then on top of that, it was the weekly morning she spends with my friend and her daughter, today also her older son who was off school because of MEA. And she didn't seem to mind at all; in fact, she was excited about it. She barely remembered to give me a hug before I left. And then when I returned to pick her up, she was gone. All of them were gone. In the meantime, the house had been decorated for Halloween and I figured it was a haunted house surprise for me. So I opened the door and walked through the house, but no one was home. I called my friend's cell, no response. I called my husband's cell, he had no clue.
My friend had said something about going to the pumpkin patch and maybe the farmer's market and to check my cell before picking up Lilly. There was no message, but after rummaging through their house, I drove to the market.
(Captured at the pumpkin patch with my friend's cell phone camera)
Driving back into town from my friend's house in the countryside went from me feeling like I was the one the joke's made on in a comedy to me fretting my friend was in the emergency room with one of the kids. It was a feeling like no other. On a gorgeous sunny final Indian summer day, the corn acres being plowed around me on both sides, cows grassing, sheep feeding, and all I could feel was that this is a day like no other.
And then of course, when I arrive at the farmer's market half an hour later, they're all there, playing happily at the playground next to the market, snacking on freshly baked market bought quiche and cupcakes. And Lilly didn't even notice me. Or at least she didn't care or run towards me. My friend smiled and waved, did I not get her message? But no, my ten dollars worth stupid cell phone, which I got since a) it's a bargain and b) it has a long battery life, it being such a basic gadget free phone, had neither rung when she called (because the ring tone has mysteriously disappeared) nor received the picture of Lilly and my friend's daughter at the pumpkin patch (because it never had that picture function). And Lilly kept addressing my friend, in English. "Want to slide down." "Take my hat." "Where's my pumpkin?" And so on and on. It's not like Lilly doesn't have English comprehension, but after another morning with my friend, it was all she would speak, all these English phrases.
I'd feared I'd lost her for real. Relieved to see her on the slide, I was still tortured by the realization of slow loss. I'd lost her attention. I'd lost her physically. I'd lost her verbally. While I've used to love how she'd run to my friend, I know felt somehow jealous.
It was a beautiful day, but I just wanted home and escape from the day. To nurse her. Remind her of our bond. Have her full attention.
So I grabbed her in my arms; she didn't want to leave. Back at the house, she wanted to gallop around in the yard like a horse, jump down the porch stairs, admire her new pumpkin on our front stoop, and not go inside.
I got her in. And all of a sudden it was an onset of many needs: hungry for boob, need to pee, want to wash hands, get in pajamas. In a circus, we got around to them all. And then she contentedly sat down on the floor, arranging and playing with her toys while I made lunch. And she'd snack and eat in between the chit chat with her toys.
I saw her this way so peaceful and content at home, like there's been no business. And while I felt slightly ashamed by my earlier pitiful reaction, I could feel my heart slowly warming, my feet finding their way to connect with the floor, my breath catching up.