Monday, November 17, 2014

What Once Was Lost

     What once was lost, now is found.  
     It finally happened, only not quite the way I thought it would.  I thought I would get a call from the police or a kindly soul:  "Is this Stephanie?  We have your grandmother here."  I was prepared for that.  I wasn't prepared for a long, mostly sleepless night.  I wasn't prepared to wonder if she was scared.  I wasn't prepared to contemplate all the possibilities:  Will she stay in the car with the heat on?  Will she think to pull over and ask someone for help?  Will she/Has she been in an accident?  Has she had a stroke or another pulmonary embolism and may not be found until it's too late?  Where the hell can she be?
      The phrase, "Choose to trust," kept rolling through my head like a mantra.  The prayer of "I know you're here with me, and you have your eye on her, and that is enough" was repeated many times.  And, as always, Jesus came through.
     Last night my grandmother went out about a quarter to eight to eat at the restaurant she frequents.  I give her two hours of "You're not aloud to freak out, Stephanie" whenever she does this while I'm home.  The two hours passed.  Every other time I've worried, it's always been fine -- she went to visit with someone or she stopped somewhere for gas.  The third hour passed.  I sat in the kitchen, legs crossed with a foot swinging, arms crossed looking at the clock every five minutes distracting myself with a movie on TV.  The fourth hour came.  It was close to midnight.  She never stays out that late, even when she's playing Yahtzee at her one friend's place.  So I got in my car and drove by the restaurant.  I drove by other restaurants.  I drove by the post office.  I drove by gas stations, through my uncle and aunt's neighborhood, through the parking lot of her one friend's apartment complex.  She was no where.  I came back home and called the emergency room -- no one by that name had been through that night.  I called my uncle and aunt's.  By this time five hours had passed.  It was now near 1 AM.  Back and forth and waiting by the phone for another hour or so.  My uncle called the local sheriff's office.  The deputies came by, got a description, advised they had deputies scouring the (very tiny by the way) city.  
     Around 3 AM I crawled in bed wide awake.  The clock in the next room was tick-tick-ticking (me off), so I pulled the battery out.  I kept listening for the sound of my grandmother pulling into the garage or the doorbell ringing or someone banging on the front door.  I put on a movie and tried to sleep.  I got maybe an hour.  The sprinklers outside woke me at 5:15 AM.  I had decided the night before, no wait, correction, I had decided a couple hours before that I would go into work today.  Didn't want to sit around the house doing nothing.  Waiting.  There was still no word from the police.
     Driving to work, a raven flew over my car, and the spark of a little girl heart's dream flashed: oh that I did have the power to speak with birds; I would have them search all the land for my grandmother.  But then the Holy Spirit reminded me that he doesn't need birds; he knows right where she is, and again the prayer: "I know you're here with me, and you have your eye on her, and that is enough."
     After I'd been at work about half an hour, a call came on my mobile.  It was a woman named Susan -- God's answer to my prayer.  My grandmother had driven to a gas station.  Susan noticed something wasn't quite right and thought maybe this woman needed help pumping gas, so she went to the car and tapped on the window.  My grandmother told her, "I don't know where I am."  Susan asked if there was someone she could call.  "Well, my granddaughter, but she can't come get me; she's at work."  "I'm sure she'll come get you," Susan had said to her.  By God's grace, my number was in my grandmother's purse.  
     Susan gave me directions to the gas station, her cell phone number and said she would stay with my grandmother until I came.  I told her my grandmother had been missing since last night, and it was a good thing that she called me.  She had asked that, whether or not she had been right to call.  "Oh no, it's very good you called me.  She's been missing since last night."  She said she got goosebumps by that.
     So I went to pick up my grandmother who remembered going out to eat last night, but the twelve hours after she left the restaurant (according to the receipt she had left about 9 PM) are a mystery.  She'd told Susan (who was kind enough to give my grandmother some water even) she had left the house this morning to go on errands and couldn't remember how she got there or where she was.  I told my grandmother, "No, you went out to eat, and you didn't come home.  We had the police out looking for you."  She was baffled.  After making sure we were okay Susan left.
     My grandmother's legs were shaky from having sat in the car all night.  It took a few minutes before she felt strong enough to walk from one car to the other.  I drove her home where my aunt met us.  She waited for my uncle, and the two of them retrieved my grandmother's car.  Then we all went out for lunch.
     As I told the police, and my answered prayer Susan, this is the first time something like this has happened.  Thankfully, my grandmother is safe.  The redeeming part about her memory loss is she won't be traumatized by this.  As she doesn't remember what passed in the twelve hours of her leaving the restaurant and driving into the gas station, she won't remember if she was scared or cold or ashamed.  We've revoked her driving privileges, took away her keys.  She took that well, though she is a little put out she can't drive to see her one friend whenever she wants.  But, like with her medicine, that too will blow over.
     I am tired.  My head aches from tears I refused to shed.  But at least she is found.  And she is safe.  Thank God Almighty for that.