It was early morning and KJ had gone back to bed. Gage wanted to play outside under the dense, grey clouds and I saw no reason to say no. I put my bathrobe on and opened the back doors to the patio. He put on his rain boots and I kept the door open but closed the curtains. Our windows are huge and I didn't want the neighbors to see me in my bathrobe.
Gage played and I worked on an email and then I realized I couldn't hear him playing.
I opened the curtains and walked across the patio.
He wasn't there. You guys, he was gone. I looked both ways and there was no trace of his blond hair or the red cape he wears every day. My heart started to pound.
I went to the center of the grassy field behind our house and called even more loudly, "Gage!"
I looked down and remembered I wasn't dressed. I ran in, pulled on some pants and a sweater and sprinted around the block. My throat felt like it was closing up; I couldn't get enough air.
"Have you seen a little boy?" I called to a distant neighbor? "A little boy! Blond!"
"Have you?" I asked an old lady, taking her trash can to the curb. "His name is Gage, he's wearing a red cape."
I ran around the block again and then I called Steven. He was somber and serious and said he'd come home. I called 9-1-1.
My mind was going everywhere. Did someone take him? Did he get hit by a car? Is he hiding in the moving van across the street? Is he cold? Will I ever see him again?
There were people looking and calling for him and all I could think was:
He picked me some flowers and I didn't even put them in water.
"Here Mommy, I picked these for you," he'd said.
I'd looked up from the computer and "uh-huh"ed him.
"I'll just set them here till you can put them in a gwass."
I found him in the front yard; I saw the sun glinting off his hair and ran to him and pulled him into my chest and sobbed.
"My heart was looking for you."
That's what he said to me when we both stopped crying.
We thanked all of the helpers and shakily came back into the house. My feet were red and covered with wet grass and little rocks.
When Steven came in he choked back a little sob and pulled Gage into his arms.
My hands shook for hours.
I will never let another flower die on the porch.
I spent the rest of the day thinking about hearts.
Gage's heart was looking for me. It found me.
My heart has been widely ignored by me lately. I've developed a habit of saying to myself, "Brooke, yes, you are feeling this way. But no, you do not need to think about it right now. You have this, this and this to do and then if you have time, you will deal with what you are feeling."
My heart has been missing my husband. He works so hard for our family and lately that has entailed long hours. I miss him.
My heart has been heavy for those close to me who are carrying burdens that I can't take away from them.
My heart has been abused by the things that I feel and say about myself and my body.
My heart has been pricked by spiritual moments that could lift so many burdens if I would give myself the time to ponder.
My heart broke when I couldn't find my little boy.
This isn't all sad, guys. Listen. It's actually happy. Life has taught me a broken heart is an opportunity to change.
Losing Gage - even if it was only thirteen minutes - was the reminder I needed. I have some things I need to change. I have some humbling to do and some learning to do. I have some feelings to deal with and some hurt to really feel.
And the good news is, I know how to heal a heart. It is through love. I'm so blessed to live a life that is abundant in love.
My heart is protected by my husband.
My heart is a shield for my children.
"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." (here)