A scare at the beach...

We are on vacation at my in-laws.

They live in New Jersey right across the river from Philadelphia. Cherry Hill to be specific.

I love coming hear. Barnes & Noble 5 minutes away. Large oak trees in the backyard. Balmy east coast air. Starbucks about every 1 square mile in any direction you decide to drive. 3 movie theaters within 10 minutes. Parking lots on site for the girls to ride their bikes. 2 playgrounds within walking distance. Italian ice 8 minutes away. A McDonalds playland if you're in the mood to catch a communicable disease. It's all here begging for your love.

But, by far, my favorite facet of where my in-laws live is Ocean City beach which is about an hour away give or take 15 minutes based on traffic patterns. It's 10 degrees cooler at the shore. There is always a stiff breeze. The sand is white, the waves are foamy, the water is salty. It's beautiful.

We enjoyed a wonderful day with the girls today. They boogie boarded for hours, dug trenches in the sand for their castles, and played with each other like they were toddlers again. I love seeing the redemption of innocence in certain settings. The shore brings them to life, suspended in time, lost in an unconscious stream of consciousness, if that makes any sense. Their laughs are hearty and robust. Their play is pure and passionate. Their smiles are serendipitously unconjured. I love watching them.

As we were packing up to leave, a woman started yelling out for her daughter. "Lindsey. Lindsey! LINDSEY!" You could see panic starting to set in with every shout of horror. People began asking what she looked like and how long she had been missing. The mother said something about pigtails and a bathing suit that was a bluish color. 5 years old. She was going to get a bucket by the water and in a moment, she vanished into thin air.

People began to send out informal search parties. I walked the beach in both directions looking intently for anything that resembled her discription. I thought I found her at one point, but the little girl I was shouting toward didn't respond to the name Lindsey, and I didn't feel like abducting her from what looked like her parents carving a sand castle under an umbrella. She seemed way to settled in her environment to be a lost little girl.

After about 20 minutes, I got a phone call from Heidi that they had found her about 6 blocks north. I was relieved, though I secretly wanted to be the one who heroicly found her and returned her to her mother.

The whole time I was trying to imagine what it would feel like to be looking for your lost daughter on an overcrowded beach. My mind could conceive that thought about as well as it conceives the borders of the universe. I would be bouncing around the beach in shock screaming and convulsing in fear. Veins would be protruding from my neck. Sweat would be streaming down my boiling body. I would be living with pure adrenaline until she was found.

My protective spirit has been boosted just a bit toward my daughters since that scare. Part of me is still combing a beach screaming for Lindsey inside, the other part is typing at a computer in an air conditioned room.


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