Her name is Vivian, she’s four years old, ash blonde hair, she’s wearing a navy one piece with a white ruffled skirt and small pink flowers.
I packed in advance, we got a good night sleep, and I even had time to clean my car before we left. Aside from a few meltdowns and a gross truck stop breakfast, the drive to our weekend vacation was great. I got to have uninterrupted conversation with my Husband and finish reading a good book.
We didn’t have an agenda for the weekend with my in-laws – which led us to doing lots of touristy things.
Like going to a water park. The kids were SO excited when we got there.
We all went to the kids’ section of the park together. John and Viv immediately took off to the big slides, but the whole thing was a bit too much for Hanky. He wasn’t up for the slides and massive amounts of water everywhere.
So Big John and I decided to take him to the baby pool at the other end of the park while Johns mom watched the big kids.
A half hour passed, Hank was having a blast. John decided to go check on the big kids. 10 minutes passed. I picked Hank up and started the walk back across the park to see what everyone was up to. I never made it.
I met John halfway.
“We can’t find Vivi.”
“They thought she was going down the slides but no one has seen her for a while. She’s not in the kids’ area for sure.”
I don’t remember what I did with Hank, I guess I handed him to John. And then I started running. No one could tell me exactly how long it had been since she was seen last. Maybe 10 minutes, maybe 15, maybe longer? I do not do well when I don’t know where my children are. Like, my mind immediately goes to the worst: drowning, murder, abduction….my worst fears.
I ran until I found the nearest lifeguard. I told her my daughter had been missing. She continued motioning for slide riders to get out to make room for the next person to come splashing in. I told her again that my daughter was missing, and asked her to do something. This must happen several times a day, because it wasn’t until I screamed “MY DAUGHTER IS GONE, HELP ME – SHE’S ONLY FOUR” that I got her attention.
I watched her take her time walking somewhere to do something. I couldn’t wait for her. I started running through the park calling Vivi’s name. Other parents began to notice and immediately joined me in searching for her.
“What’s her name? What does she look like?”
“Her name is Vivian, she’s four years old, ash blonde hair, she’s wearing a navy one piece with a white ruffled skirt and small pink flowers.”
I can’t remember how many times I described her. “Navy suit, white ruffles, small pink flowers….she’s only four….”
5 more minutes passed. I’ve been up and down and through every part of the park. She is gone. There are so many other families now looking for her, but still – we go mostly unnoticed among the huge crowd soaking up the last bits of summer sun. The waves continue in the huge wave pool, so full that you can barely see water, let alone the bottom. I scream for them to evacuate the pool. “My daughter has been missing for at the very least 15-20 minutes, please!” They do nothing. Nothing.
May 21, 2013
I go to bed early. I am very tired, very pregnant, and have a very fussy toddler. Any day now, there will be another.
May 22, 2013
It’s 1AM. The back pain wakes me. It is time. We head to the hospital
It’s 9:32AM. “It’s A GIRL!” the nurse says. I know, I think to myself. We didn’t find out, but I’ve known in my heart all along. My Vivian, I already know her. We’ve already been together 9 months. “What’s her name, Mom and Dad?” “Vivian.” my husband tells them.
May 22, 2014
I thought she’d at least have some hair by now. I fasten a huge bow to the few strands she does have. We eat pink cupcakes and sing to her. One year. My Vivian.
March 2, 2017
I quit my job a couple of months ago, time was passing too quickly. We’re sitting in the car. She jumps on my lap in the drivers seat, gives me a hug, and says “I’ll never forget you, Mommy.”
August 19, 2017
Its 1PM. The big kids are having a blast on the slides. We take Hank to the baby pool. We didn’t want John & Vivi to see us leave. I never said goodbye…..
5 more minutes pass. I beg them to close the entrance gates. “We have people looking” is the response I get. I keep running, looking for my Vivian.
What is the purpose of this, I ask God in this moment. Please. Send her back to me…
A man in a bright green shirt with a walkie talkie grabs my arm. We found her. She is with someone in your party. “Where?” I scream. I don’t give him time to answer. “Where is she? NOW. TELL ME NOW.” He is aggravated with me now, but points toward the center of the park. I start running again. 10 seconds pass. I see John, he’s 6’5″. Hard to miss him. There are people everywhere. I see that he is holding Hank, walking my way. I can see little John holding his left hand. I take a few more strides, the crowd thins, navy suit, white ruffles, puffy eyes. My Vivian.
I run faster, she runs toward me, I pick her up, we find a little tiki hut with flimsy beach chars to sit down. She’s so light, she always has been. That’s why we call her “Tiny”. She’s barely 30 lbs. I hold her and we cry for a long time. My eyes stay closed. After a while, I open them and look down at her. My Vivian. Four years old, ash blonde hair, navy one piece, white ruffles, and big pink flowers.
I bought this suit for her 2 years ago. It’s a bit tight by now, but it is her favorite. I’ve seen it almost every day this summer, we practically live at the pool. I was wrong. I told everyone small pink flowers. They are big. I was wrong. Why did I think they were small?
She looks up at me. “Where were you, baby girl?”
“I was looking for you, Mommy.”