2.27.17 Lost Mom for a few hours today.
I waited at the usual place to pick her up, getting there half an hour earlier. 8 o’ clock arrived, the time that marked the end of her shift, and there was no sign of her. Over the next 40 minutes, I grew increasingly anxious and worried. She wasn’t responding to any of my texts. I called her and it went straight to voice mail. At first I assumed her cellphone battery ran out. I text my father to see if being late was a common thing, and he reassured me she has been late on occasion. He urged me to be patient and that dinner was ready. But 40 minutes?
I weighed my options and went with my heart. I went by her workplace to check on her, peering in the door to see if I could catch a glimpse. The business closed at 8:00 pm but the lights were still on. Thinking the management decided to work her overtime, I walk around the block for 10-15 minutes, occasionally circling back to check on the store. It was 9-something by then. Were they holding her hostage? I thought as I stood across from the store front. Dad was worried too, and instructed me to knock on the door just to check if she was there. He was on his way to me.
The front and back of the store held formidable distance. I wasn’t sure how hard I’d have to pound on the glass to be heard. To put it simply, I was fighting to not wimp out. Then just when I mustered enough courage to knock on the glass doors, I ran into a friend and was locked in conversation for several minutes. I kept glancing back at the store window. My worried face must’ve shown, because my friend gently pushed me to knock on the door. “Go on, I’m interested to see what happens,” he teased, but with good intentions (I think).
I lift the store handle expecting a rigid pullback, but to my surprise it opened as smoothly as cutting room temperature butter. “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me,” I said as I turned back to my friend. We waved our goodbyes and I walked into the empty store. “Hello?” I called out. I knew there were people in the back. I called out two more times, approaching closer to the back without barging in. I weighed my options: do I go in yelling and screaming to look for Mom and possibly cost her job, or do I just wait here like a forgotten rag doll?
After what seemed like forever, the owner showed his face. I asked for my mother, and he told me she got off work at 8:00 pm. That was when the panic really set in. I thanked the owner and left the store frantically searching all the places she could’ve been waiting. My eyes were like a chameleon’s, jutted orbs circling on its own axis, methodically scanning every corner. Horrible images of twisted strangers abducting my mother filled my head. It didn’t help that I had seen Split (2016) two days before.
I walked around wondering if it was even worth asking all the carefree strangers about my mom. I determined my description of her would’ve been too vague and it wasn’t like she stood out from the crowd. As I walked outside into the night, I got out my cellphone and said, “Okay, okay, calm down. Think Sherry, think.” I took a breath and began to log into her iCloud account, determined to see if I could locate or signal her somehow. Just as I got to my car, Dad called and I could hear the sound of my mother’s voice in the background.
“I found her on my way out,” he said. It meant she had started walking back home, where there were several unlit areas and a Graveyard she’d have to pass through. I angrily demanded to know what happened. Apparently, Mom hadn’t seen my car parked at the usual place.
“But I was there since 7:30!” I fumed. She whined a ‘sorrrrry‘ in the background. I felt a sense of relief, like if you were to climb up Mt. Rushmore and then jump downwards– having been tense the entire way up, the moment of descent felt light and loose in comparison.
When I got back home, Mom called out a cute greeting from a place where I couldn’t see her. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to express myself face-to-face, I announced how angry I was and slammed the door.”You must be angry,” she said as I came around the corner. When I saw her, safe and sound and whole, I clung onto her and broke into waves of loud sobs.
“I was so worried!”
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” she said as she gently patted my heaving back. “You must’ve been really frightened, right? It’s okay.” I continued to wail, my face buried in her shoulder. “Alright, alright, no need to cry.”
“Alright, no need to cry,” Dad urged in the same tender manner. “Let’s eat.”