When we were on vacation we stopped by beautiful Shell Falls in the Bighorn National Forest in Northern Wyoming. The interpretive site had about a half-mile worth of trails but there were very few straight spots in the trail. It was like a figure-eight loop concrete walkway with numerous overlooks to see the 120-foot waterfall that dropped down to the surrounding granite faces. It is a narrow channel that Shell Creek flows through, but the beauty of this location is memorable.
After walking around for twenty minutes, Josiah and I became separated. I was taking pictures of a marmot with Zeke, while Mo had left to use the restroom with Hadassah. These marmots were cute, and I wanted to get a good picture of them so I could remember them. I was focused on my photography and I didn’t hear Josiah when he told me that he was going to find Mom. Mo was already too far down the path to be found. He was gone.
Zeke and I continued our walk and finished the figure eight when we ran into Mo and Hadassah.
Mo asked, “Where’s Josiah?”
Me: “I don’t have him, I thought he went with you.”
Mo said: “I don’t have him.”
I said: “Stay here!”
I went running around the figure-eight screaming for Josiah. There was a huge amount of fear running through my veins as I lost my little boy. In the matter of seconds, I had a million thoughts run through my head. What if he fell over the cliff and into the water? What if he got to the parking lot, only to be kidnapped? What if he was circling the same way I was, and we wouldn’t see each other? Where is he? Who has him? Why didn’t I notice he was gone? Was that stupid picture worth it? God help me find him!
Along with these questions came my tears. I didn’t want my boy to be missing. I need him in my life. He is my oldest boy and a joy to raise. I love how God uses him so often to speak into my life. I love him with all my heart and daily I give up a little of myself to allow him to know how loved he is. I didn’t want the pain of separation to be real, or last long. I wanted to find him.
So, I picked up my speed and volume. I didn’t care if people looked at me for yelling. I didn’t care that as I asked people if they saw a little boy, I didn’t stop to hear their answers. I imagine they could see the fear on my face. I even figured they could see my heart beating as I could feel it beating out of my chest.
Mo and I are usually really good at keeping tabs on our kids in public. We’ve read The Shack, where Missy gets taken, and that is one of our greatest fears. We are good about communicating who has whom, but this time I missed it. The fear was so real in part because there was a small parking lot with lots of cars coming and going, someone could have taken off with Josiah and…I can’t even think about it. That would be my worst fear realized. Like I said, I need my boy.
I got through the first loop and onto the second, before I found Josiah. He was huddled up against the center of the walkway crying. Real, huge tears were in his eyes. I had in that moment picked him up and snuggled him and kissed him and cried with him.
“I’ve got you buddy.”
“I was scared, where did you go?”
“I was scared too, Bub, I love you man!”
I walked him back to Mo, Hadassah and Zeke. On the walk back, the tears had slowed for both of us. And emotionally we were glad to be in each other’s arms. Josiah wanted to see Mo and she snuggled him and let him know how much we love him. The emotions took a lot out of us, and we were spent. But the joy of finding the one that I lost overwhelmed the tears that I had. And the love that I have for Josiah drove away my fears.