I don’t know where to start. I’ve stared at the blinking cursor for ten minutes now and I still don’t know how to tell this story. So I’m going to do what I tell others to do when they tell me that they don’t know where to begin. I’m going to start in the middle. Where it hurts.
My baby left the building.
When the social skills group session ended, she and her little buddy, Lou were let out into the waiting room. Alone. Lou took her by the hand and together they walked out the door.
No one saw them go.
They’ve known each other since they were in the same integrated classroom in preschool. Two little girls with very different strengths but similar challenges – both on the spectrum. They had a play date planned. Lou’s mom was to pick them up and take them both back to her house. She was running late. By two minutes. TWO minutes.
She happened to arrive at just the right moment to see them walking blithely along before they disappeared around the corner. They were still holding hands.
They had managed to cross the street. They were a block away from the center.
“We’re walking home,” her daughter said matter-of-factly when she stopped them in their tracks, panicked.
After the bend in the road, the next turn is onto a major thoroughfare.
I saw the e-mail at 3am.
“Jess, I’m so sorry.”
“I’ll be extra vigilant.”
“I can’t apologize enough.”
“Wandered from my notice.”
No, you can’t apologize enough.
I couldn’t breathe.
At 4:30, I wrote back.
I haven’t known how to respond. I’m grateful that you wrote, and I know that you will do what needs to be done to ensure that this won’t happen again.
But it’s 4:30 am and I’m wide awake because I can’t think of anything other than our two little girls walking hand in hand to God knows where – and what might have happened had [Lou's mom] not come exactly when she did – happening on them by chance before they were simply out of sight. It’s absolutely terrifying.
Please talk to EVERYONE at the center. Use this Holy Crap By The Grace Of God We Got Lucky moment as an opportunity to educate EVERYONE who works there in ANY capacity so that there is absolutely no possibility that this can EVER happen again.
Luau will be coming by today to talk about this further.
I’m shaking. It’s hours and hours later and I’m still shaking.
Sleep never came.
They walked out of the building, crossed the street and were headed around the corner.
By the grace of God, they are safe.