This morning Neirin disappeared. We couldn’t find him. We searched and searched, at first with irritation and then with growing panic. Huwyl and I called, looked in every room and called some more. I looked outside, I ran to the pond my heart pounding, he was no where.
We searched the house again and again, I looked in his cupboard, under the beds, in every nook and cranny I could think of. It took about 30 seconds. I called his name but no response. I could hear Huwyl outside, calling his brother, searching everywhere; inside the silence was complete. Choking.
At 20 minutes I was hysterical, I phoned Stephen screaming, I didn’t know what to do. At 25 minutes I was in the car driving up and down the road than runs by the farm. He’s never gone up the drive or near the road, I knew he wasn’t there but I couldn’t think where else to look. Over and over I kept saying This is Hell, I’m in Hell. I feared that I had slipped through the ice into the bad reality, that somehow madness had taken over.
At 30 minutes I think my heart stopped beating.
My mind kept saying that he couldn’t have left the house. He was upstairs asleep, Huwyl and I were in the office downstairs, we would have heard him come downstairs, we would have heard the door. I ran back upstairs, to the rooms I had already searched, the rooms I’d run through calling then screaming his name, crying into the silence.
I gave it one last try, I calmed my voice and called “Neirin, Neirin darling are you there? Tell Mummy where you are darling, I have ice cream for you, we’re going to eat ice cream”. Then I heard him crying. I heard him calling me and I felt like I was born again. I ran into his room and still couldn’t see him, he’d tucked himself in the back of his cupboard and stayed there in silence. Silence.
I held him so hard and he clung to me, I cried and sobbed and asked over and over Why did you hide? All he could tell me was I don’t know, I just did it. We called Daddy to tell him we’d found him, I cried on the phone for a while as Neirin clung to me. We went and found Huwyl and he sobbed and hugged him just as I had.
Then we called Grampa, who informed me that when he was three he used to do the same thing. Huh. I suppose we know who to blame then. Then he told Huwyl a story to cheer him up, a story about Sammy the Seagull and his friend Neville who gets lost in a cave. They found him in the end and we all felt better.
Eventually we had to go out and run errands, then we went to the thrift store and bought crazy stuff for the dressing up box. Whatever the kids pointed at I bought, they got crazy robes and silly hats; Neirin is now the proud owner of a stuffed tiger. A really big stuffed tiger.
On the way home I bought them ice cream. My heart still hasn’t settled down, I think it might take a while.
I have no words of wisdom or final finishing line to this story, but this quote seems to fit,
It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane. ~ Phillip K Dick.
I think I need to lie down. With the children in full view.