One of the things that I very rarely ever mention here is my life when I was married. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is that I have zero desire to revisit those days and reopen those wounds.
I need to mention one event from those days now though, because it's relevant.
I had a stepson, and when he was I guess about 18 months or so old, I woke from an afternoon nap and went to get him up from his own nap. I opened the door to his bedroom.
The first thing I noticed was that he wasn't there.
The second thing I noticed was his window.
He'd managed to push out the screen and, I knew right away, had fallen out the window.
From his window to the ground outside was about eight feet. Coincidentally, that was the same as the distance I had to walk from his bedroom door to get to the window.
Walking to that window, expecting to see my baby's broken body laying on the ground outside - well I probably don't have to describe how terrifying that was. I probably couldn't describe it anyway, not with any kind of accuracy. Easily the scariest eight feet of my life.
So I stuck my head out the window, and I looked down.
There was nothing there. There was nobody there. There was no body there.
We lived in a mobile home, and the skirting wasn't completely installed yet, so I thought that he might have rolled, or crawled, or bounced, under the house. I went out the front door and around the house, trying to imagine what I'd tell my wife if the worst had indeed happened.
I got to the back of the house and looked under it.
Nothing. I remember checking the ground for blood. Nothing.
At about this point I guess I started to panic, because I don't remember much else.
I ran back into the house and grabbed the phone. I called the base police and told them my baby was missing and probably injured. I called my wife and told her all I knew - that he'd fallen out his window and I couldn't find him. I pounded on my neighbor's door and managed to convey to him that I needed him to get in his car and drive through the trailer park while I looked on foot.
I don't remember calling his name, as I ran through yard after yard. I'm sure that I did though. I'm sure that I was screaming his name. I flagged down the policeman that had responded to my call. He was going to drive around and search, just like my neighbor was doing, but he wanted to meet me at my house first.
I ran back to my house, and I sat on the steps, with my face buried in my hands.
When I looked back up, the baby was standing in front of me.
Just as I can't describe the terror I'd felt walking towards that window, what I felt when I saw him alive - there are just no words.
He didn't have a mark on him. Shit, he wasn't even particularly dirty.
I don't remember talking to the policeman when he got to my house. I don't remember calling off my neighbor's search. I don't even remember when my wife arrived. What I remember is clinging to that kid.
Sometimes life provides its own metaphors. I may be the only one that recognizes this one, but that's okay, because I'm the one that needed to recognize it.
I'm awake now, but while I slept she fell out the window. I need to find her and make sure she's okay.