Yesterday I was remembering a tragic event that took place over 5 years ago when I wasn't quite 13 years old. The young cousin of a good friend of mine had gone missing. Before Mom was even off the phone Dad was up and told the boys to get ready 'cause they were going to go help look for her. Even though I had recently prepared for bed, I asked to go as well. After a brief hesitation Dad agreed as long as I was ready in time. Was I ready? I was at the door before my Dad and brothers were.
The little girl that had gone missing wasn't even 5 years old. During the 45+ minute drive there, I prayed for her safety. She was so young and had been missing for several hours already. Shedding a few tears, I soon felt a peace and firmly believed that wherever she was, she was safe.
When we arrived the divers were just preparing to check the large pond that lay in front of the house. A helicopter was above, searching the area by air and an ambulance was parked ready if needed. I was hesitant in what to do and after standing about for a few moments, my older brother suggested that I go into the house and find my friend.
Not knowing what else I could do to help I followed his advice. All the girls of the two families (the cousins were visiting from out of state) and the moms were inside with the younger ones. I joined my friend on the couch and her younger siblings showed me the new puppies.
The anxiety and tension couldn't be missed. Everyone was on pins and needles waiting for news. After some time passed I walked to the kitchen window which overlooked the pond. There was no sense of time while there. I still don't know how long I was there, though if I asked my Mom she could probably tell me how long we were gone that night.
From my position I could see the ambulance, but there wasn't enough light for me to tell everything that was going on. To my right was a door leading to the porch. I was there when a man walked into the house. I didn't know who he was or what he was. The young girl's mother had been pacing the kitchen floor while holding her youngest on her hip, but everything seemed to come to a stand still when he walked in.
I don't remember all that was said, but I think the mother asked if they had found her. Right then my heart reached out to that man as he answered "yes."
Have you ever witnessed a mother's grief at the loss of a child? It's indescribable. I watched helplessly as the mother sank to the floor crying out to God, her anguish heartrending. She looked so alone.
The man standing next to me, his expression one of pain, asked me if I was a relative. I shook my head, holding back the tears and answered, "just a friend."
He nodded slowly and said something which I can't quite remember, but I think he might've said this, "I'm glad. They're going to need friends like you." He walked out, shoulders hunched.
I stood there, not knowing what to do. How could I, a young 12 year old and a stranger, comfort the mother just deprived of her daughter? I walked back to the living room and sat on the couch and for a few moments just watched my friend cry not far off. I couldn't take it any more! My heart was breaking for them. I moved and curled up next to my friend, holding her in a close embrace.
I have no idea how long we sat there together, but before I knew it, my brother found me and informed me that it was time to leave. I reluctantly got up and said good-bye. She thanked me for being there for her.
On the drive home my mind was in a daze. How could this have happened? I had felt such peace that she was safe! Then it hit me. She was safe. I had prayed asking that wherever she was, that God would keep her safe. What better place of such assurance than in the arms of Jesus Christ?!
Not a year goes by without me thinking of it. Though I was there to witness a mother's grief firsthand, I can't even begin to imagine what the loss of a child would feel like.
How much more pain do we cause our Saviour when we sin or stray from his loving arms? The love that He has for us so strong, that He sacrificed His ONE and ONLY son! Wow.