Monday, January 29, 2007

Just Can't Shake It

I had a dream Saturday night that I just can't seem to shake. It scared the bejeebers out of me, and I can't explain how it felt letting Juliana go to school today. It felt like it was the first day of preschool again, and I was somehow abandoning her... and it ripped my heart out. She got on the bus an hour ago, and I still feel this... mmm... pressure on my chest. Anxiety. Yes, it's anxiety. As if I might not see her again.

The dream was so real, and very much the stuff of a mother's worst nightmare.

It started out with me dropping Juliana off at school, which has only happened once when I overslept and she missed the bus. In this dream, we had missed the bus again. I went home and went through my regular day, except when it was time for the bus to drop Juliana off, she didn't get off the bus. I called the school, and they told me that she never came back in from recess. Of course I lost my temper and asked them why I didn't receive a phone call immediately, but they told me that they assumed she was hiding and were still searching for her, but didn't want me to panic. I called the police, but they didn't take me seriously. Even though she's only 6 yrs old, they wanted me to wait 24 hours before reporting her as missing. They wouldn't even go interview the school officials or myself, but assumed that maybe she ran away because she was mad at me.

I begin to panic, and get the other girls in the car to go look for her. The police wouldn't help until the next day, but even then they wouldn't take me seriously and kept hanging up on me, telling me that they would have to arrest me for filing a false report. The feeling of panic and frustration was overwhelming. No one would help me. No one seemed to know where she was.

On the third day, I called the police again, and the female detective was being condescending to me until I found a ransom note in my mail box for $160,000,000. My first reaction was "What stupid kidnappers, they kidnapped the wrong kid. If they knew anything about us, they'd know we can't even afford a ransom of $160!" Suddenly, when I told the detective about the ransom note, she got serious and showed up at my door for a formal interview. She made calls to the school, who refused to take responsibility even though she was kidnapped off of the playground on their property.

Then I get a phone call while the detective is sitting with us, and it's from the kidnapper. It's a man with an Arabic accent, and he's telling me that he has my daughter hostage. He begins making demands, but all I can think about is how she is, if she's scared or hungry. He was telling me how he had her tied up and locked in a room alone, but I kept interrupting to ask him if she was eating and drinking well, if she was sleeping, etc. He sighed and said she was afraid to sleep, and her appetite wasn't very good although she kept asking for apples and chocolate milk. In the background, I could hear a phone ringing and a cash register dinging. I realized he was calling from a Pakistani restaurant. I could hear Juliana in the background crying for her Mommy, and I started to cry.

Suddenly, I'm in the car and it's stuck in the mud, but I'm at this restaurant. I go to walk in, but before I can, this young Pakistani girl comes out and says "Oh, you must be Juliana's Mommy. She's really hungry, she doesn't like Pakistani food. I hope you brought her something to eat. She needs some bandages too, she fell and bumped her head yesterday." Apparently, it was day 5 and we'd spent 2 days looking for the restaurant. The police were imbeciles who didn't realize that they didn't need to tap my phone because the restaurant phone number was on Caller ID, and even though I realized it, they wouldn't let me leave my house. Apparently, I had escaped to go find the restaurant myself.

I managed to get inside, and ran to the back rooms, banging on every door I could find. I could hear her crying, and I finally found the right door. She was sitting on a dirty old bed, set up with video cameras and musty old stuffed animals. She ran to me and hugged me, and it was the best feeling in the world.

I woke up crying. I couldn't stop hugging and kissing her all day yesterday. I still feel anxious about this dream. My leg is shaking just remembering and writing all of this down. I'll be anxious until she steps off that bus safely this afternoon.

I know she's safe, and I know her school is vigilant about knowing where every child is. They have security officers patrol the campus whenever the kids are outside, and every single child is always under supervision. But I still can't shake this feeling of dread, anxiety, loss, and fear.

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