It's *what time*??

The rush of emotions experienced during loss (real or feared) is amazing. So many fears, so many realizations and possibilities run through in a heartbeat.

I should explain.

Melissa had a baby shower thrown for her tonight -- I stayed home with Ezra. Before leaving, Melissa and I had the "call me if you're going to be late" conversation -- you know, the one that also includes "ok, what time is 'late'?" It was decided that if she was there past 10:30, she'd give me a buzz. All the other women there have young children, so the likelihood of this seemed fairly slim.

Fast forward a couple of hours. Ezra and I went for a long walk through the heart of SE Portland (an experience unto itself) and he was pretty tired by the time we got back to the apartment. I put him in his crib at about 8:30, lay down on the bed myself 'just for a minute' and woke up at 11:30. No wife. No phone call.

I jumped out of bed to check a) the house to see if she was in the living room and hadn't woken me up, and b) the answering machine to find out when she had left.

No wife, no messages.

And this brings me to the point of this post: the sudden fear, what is happening here? Mind you, I don't consider myself to be a particularly 'parental' husband -- Melissa is free to do what she pleases. But that sudden moment of realization that all is not as I expected and there is room for my mind to run with possibilities . . . wow.

Mind you, before she left tonight there was also a "what's the phone number there?" element to our conversation. She didn't know the phone number, but knew that she had gotten it off the web before -- if I needed to call for some reason, I could do the same. So here I am, brain kicking into fairly serious worry mode, and I'm having to hop online to get the number. I'm telling you, the range of possibilities that entered my mind was amazing.

The hostess picked up the phone after one ring, and thanks to the miracle of caller ID the very first words out of her mouth were "she's just climbing into the car outside -- do you want me to go grab her before she takes off?" To which I said thank you, no, I just wanted to make sure she was alright.

She should be home any minute now.

It's amazing to watch even the body physically respond to that moment of fear -- elevated pulse, brain racing at a pace you know is faster than normal. I had a hundred options running through my head too -- with only one car (and Melissa theoretically in it), what resources did I have if I found out that she had left there two hours ago?

And I know that everyone knows instantly the feeling I mean -- definitely one of those universal experiences shared by all humankind. I'll say this, though -- being married multiplies that fear by at *least* a factor of ten -- and when that fear also involves your child? Words cannot describe.

I'm not copping out because I'm too lazy to come up with a description -- words truly cannot describe. And knowing that -- experiencing it from the parental end of things -- makes me realize that all those times as a kid when I thought my mom was overreacting -- Jed, I was about to call the *police* and report you missing! -- were actually her moments of greatest self-control.

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