Saturday, 15 January 2011

Inspired...

On Monday I posted about the Pass The Book project - there's still time to put your name down if you'd like to be considered to be next to receive this title:


Full details are on the other post, and please leave a comment on that post to express your interest!

Sian's idea with the Pass The Book project is to encourage us to be inspired by the books we receive. At first I wasn't sure what form the inspiration might take with this particular book, but it turns out that I just needed to keep it at the back of my mind for a couple of weeks and my subconscious would do the rest!

You see, while I haven't been through anything quite like the experience of the characters in the book, I have known what it was like for my child to go missing, albeit for a short amount of time. It's a story that I've never before thought of telling, but it's part of our 'family lore' and a memory that will never leave me, and as such is definitely scrapping material! So I'm now prompted to record that story (and I'm also bearing in my mind that my one little word, details, includes recording the details of our lives).

I decided to be inspired by the book's cover, too - or rather, the idea that came to me and wouldn't leave me alone was to build a layout inspired by the cover!


So I drew up a sketch based on the cover design:


OK, slight quandary! How did I square the idea of recording the details, and thus including quite a long story, with the very clean and simple layout here?! I thought through a few different ideas for hiding my journaling, but in the end what I decided to do is print out the story and adhere it to the back of the layout. The whole thing will go into a page protector with nothing behind it, so people can look at the layout and then turn the page to read the story. That will both help me to keep to the simplicity of the sketch, and to feel that my journaling is full and complete but just tucked away enough!

So, here is my layout - and here is the story.


My darling The Boy, I will never forget the time that you went missing. It was soon after your sister was born. We'd moved up to Leeds by then, but on this particular weekend we went back to Cambridge to visit our friends there, to introduce them to The Girl. I can't remember exactly how long we were there for, or with whom we stayed, but on the Sunday morning we went back to our 'old' church, both for the service and for the chance to see everyone we knew there.

You were only 2, and a fairly stereo-typical active toddler, running around everywhere! Dad and I would take it in turns to hold the baby and chat to people, and to run after you and keep an eye on you.

It was my turn to follow you. You squeezed through a crowd of people by ducking under their legs, and by the time I'd managed to get past them you were nowhere to be seen.


The first thing I did was check with the people by the door whether they'd seen you go that way. At that age you were never without your beloved bright red Bob the Builder cap, so you were quite distinctive! When they said they hadn't seen you, I was reassured that at least you hadn't left the church building. Next I searched the main hall, letting Dad know that you'd snuck away from me, but not really worried yet. When it was clear that you weren't in that part of the building, we started checking the kitchen, the creche room, the little side rooms, and then the meeting rooms upstairs.

By now, I was starting to feel concerned. I didn't even realise myself how worried I was until I bumped into a couple of people on the staff team on the staircase, and as I tried to ask them if they'd seen you, I burst into tears. You'd been gone for 5 minutes, and we were now pretty sure you weren't in the building. Had you, after all, gone through the main door? If you had, and you'd turned left, you'd quickly have reached a busy road - and you were two years old! You had no idea yet how to be safe near traffic, other than that you must hold my hand! And then, what if someone found you? So many scenarios went through my head....

The staff members quickly took control. They made an announcement over the loudspeaker system, and immediately we had a large search team. Some systematically checked through the church building once more, while others, including Dad, headed off in each of the possible directions outside. I had to stay at church, as of course they would bring you back there once you were found - I never let myself say 'if', 'when' you were found - but oh, the frustration and desperation of wanting to help look and having to stay behind pacing the hall!


The time seemed interminable, but eventually I heard a cry outside of 'We've found him!' My darling, you'd turned right and gone into the pedestrianised shopping centre. You were, at least, safe from traffic there. You told us that you'd looked at some shops - you'd seen a sandwich shop, and looked through the window - in fact, you'd toddled around quite happily for a while. Then it had clearly dawned on you that you weren't quite sure where you were, and Mummy and Daddy weren't there, so you'd started to get upset. A 'kind Mummy' had seen you and asked if you were all right, and where your Mummy was. Then a 'brown Daddy' (our Indian friend!) had come along and knew who you were and brought you back to me.

I remember holding you to me so tightly, crying tears of relief and thanksgiving. I remember you laughing nervously, not being sure if I was laughing or crying, but wanting to join in. I remember other parents, now that they knew all was well, coming up to say how glad they were, and sharing stories of the times their own children had gone missing, I suppose to support me and make me feel less of a bad mother! I remember someone going after Dad to let him know and bring him back, and dashing out of the church to see him as soon as possible, to reassure him myself that it was true and you were safe.

You were missing for about 20 minutes altogether. It was the longest 20 minutes I have ever lived.

25 comments:

alexa said...

Oh my, what a breath-holding story! Really like the way you let the book inspire your visually and emotionally ... glad all ended well!

Deb @ PaperTurtle said...

A true artist can take inspiration from anything, and you have done just that, my dear. I love this post, Mel!

My mom tells a story of when we were little and my sister was 2 and could not be found. They combed the neighborhood and looked EVERYWHERE for her. My mom was in a panic. My sis was finally found, sound asleep under a pile of clean laundry on my mom's bed.

Ruth said...

Oh, how you've captured this story is wonderful. I had DS disappear last summer at an afternoon gathering we attended. It was only 10 minutes or so, but long enough to half worry me to death!

Karen said...

I wonder if every mother has a similar story (and terrible scare) to tell. I know I do! I'm so impressed with your inspiration for this page!

Photographing Mom said...

Lovely page and what a scary experience!!!

furrypig said...

I had a similar experience with my DS when we were at a local National Trust place.
I thought he was with my friends and he wasn't! I did begin to panic after a while and my imangination just went into overdrive and I was sure I was getting heart pains! There were several people looking for him.
He turned up in the end and was quite cross that he had gone ahead on his own on our usual route and we hadn't followed! I hugged him for a long time and really wasn't angry at all just totally relieved!

Beverly said...

I love how the book inspired a layout and kept you true to your one word. Definitely a story that needed to be journaled. Thanks for sharing with us :)

Liberty :) said...

great story and a lovely page! i can feel the terror in your tale as you tell it. i remember being "lost" for a split second, panicking, finding "my dad" hugging him saying "dadddddddy" only to find it wasn't him at all, bursting into tears as my Mum hurried over to get me. Awful minute of my life. Bless "the boy"

Anesha said...

Love what you did with your layout and great idea to include the story in that way. Have a lovely weekend.

Kirsty.a said...

I 'lost' M at a French zoo for only about 10 minutes when she was about the same age - terrifying.
I'm really impressed with how you used that v. clean and simple book cover as inspiration. I've already put myself into the Pass the Book draw.

Melissa said...

I like that the book inspired you to create a layout and record a story that you've probably repeated often but never gotten down in writing!

Sian said...

Fantastic!! Exactly the kind of thing I was talking about. I bet you are glad you did this - I know I am x

Sian said...

Oh, and I have just remembered how I got lost in London Zoo on a school trip - and so the inspiration comes round again..

debs14 said...

Oh how I can associate with this story, it's every mother's nightmare isn't it? And every minute seems like an hour. I too have a disappearing son story (must be something in their name that makes them so similar!) which involves our first family outing to Lakeside Shopping Centre in Thurrock, a slightly distracted daddy, the whole of WHSmith security staff and a hysterical mother. (that would be me)

Anonymous said...

It must run in the family. I remember losing you in Woolworth's and your brother going shopping on his own too.

The Mother

Fiona said...

A lovely and great that you can tell that story.

Cheri said...

Mel, this is beautifully written and I could feel the panic. I was tearing up and trying not to as I'm sitting in a room of about 200 scrappers and don't want to have to explain! ;)

Clair said...

I'm fairly certain that everyone who has ever cared for a child has had a similar experience - and even knowing that 'The Boy' is safe and sound, I remembered that feeling of loss only too well.

A lovely layout and a poignant story to record.

Mary B said...

That brought tears to my eyes and they are running down my face as I type.
It also reminded me of the time that my son at about the same age did a very similar thing.

The Mann Fam said...

Love the way you carried out your inspiration.

I wonder if every family has similar situations. I had one with My Sweet Pea. Thanks for your story and inspiriting me to do something about getting my similar story down on paper. Now, if only I could recall the details as well as you were able to. :)

scrappyjacky said...

Wonderfully told,Mel....and like with most others....this reminded me of a similar story of my own.

Maria Ontiveros said...

Brava!!! Great job on this page Mel. And, for the post, I love how you showed up your path of creativity. I remember when the boys (DS and the two live next door) for a while, after they went to chase the dog who had run off into the woods at the edge of our neighborhood. Scary indeed. And now I remember getting lost at Disneyland when I was little.
rinda

Tracey said...

What a story! I have no doubt those 20 minutes went by agonisingly slowly ... thank goodness there was a happy ending.

miriam.rogers said...

I have a missing child story Mel, so know just how you felt. x

SarahLP said...

*Gulping back tears* LOVE the way you told this story.. and the clean lines of your layout work brilliantly. Like everyone else, I too have a few gut-wrenching 'missing child' memories tucked away.