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.
A little getaway for the weekend sounded perfect! We’ve been going non stop to finish building the house by the fall – and we’re tired, really tired.
I packed in advance, we got a good night sleep, and I even had time to detail my car before we left. Aside from a few meltdowns and a less than mediocre truck stop breakfast, the drive to Branson, MO 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 two museums, lots of swimming, and other touristy things.
Like going to a water park. The kids were SO excited as we arrived. As we approached the entrance, a family with extras gave us free admission tickets – which were not cheap! A good day so far.
We all went to the kids’ section of the park together. Our older two, John and Vivi, immediately took off to the big slides, but the whole thing was a bit too much for a two year old. Hanky baby wasn’t up for the slides and massive amounts of water shooting out at every angle from everywhere.
So Big John and I decided to take him to the baby splash pool at the other end of the park, leaving the big kids with family.
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. A missing child in 2017 doesn’t mean the same thing as it did 30 years ago. 99.8% of children who go missing are found. But when a true abduction occurs, the recovery and survival rates decrease drastically with each hour that passes. 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….”
But it was always to other parents. Moms, Dads, Grandparents, other kids, Aunts, Uncles, other people. The water park staff were not concerned.
5 more minutes passed. I’ve been up and down and through every part of the park. She is gone. There are so many people 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 please evacuate the pool. “My daughter has been missing for at 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 left 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.” I made the right decision. I will never regret coming home to them.
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. I trust you, but what are you trying to teach me in this? Why her? Why me? Why us? Where is she? 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.”
Two little girls walked up to us. “We found her crying by the showers, so we took her to the gift shop.”
“Thank you. Thank you.” I say, crying.
My daughter Vivian, searched for by so many people who could have chosen to look away from the frantic mother running around calling for her child. I pray for protection for my children, but really – they don’t need to be protected from Heaven.
Their days are already numbered, just like mine. God knows when He will call them home, and that’s a tough pill to swallow – that really, I have no control over that.
But I do believe, my prayers are worth it. To protect them, not from meeting Jesus at their time – but from evil, from a life apart from God.
I am thankful to have my daughter with me still, I am thankful God protected her form evil on this day, and I know, that when her last day arrives, she will close her eyes to this world, and open them to the face of Jesus.
I am thankful, that it wasn’t this day, not just yet. My daughter, Vivian – stay with me, a little while longer.