She didn't log them in correctly, so there was no record of them ever being there. No video surveillance to capture who took them. No witnesses whatsoever since they were the only ones there besides the daycare owner, who for whatever reason was out of the room.
And now they were gone.
It felt like a hot knife had opened me up, my vitals then falling to the ground with a slow-motion crash like glass splintering into billions of sharp slivers. Slivers that I had to crawl across emotionally while the Mama and me grappled with our loss.
The details were so painfully real, which is why I nearly wept when I awoke this morning, not wanting to recount the terrible dream, not even wanting to share any more of what I remember here (and I still remember too much).
It's one of parents' worst nightmares -- having a child abducted. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that each year:
- 797,500 children (younger than 18) were reported missing in a one-year period of time studied resulting in an average of 2,185 children being reported missing each day.
- 203,900 children were the victims of family abductions.
- 58,200 children were the victims of non-family abductions.
- 115 children were the victims of “stereotypical” kidnapping. (These crimes involve someone the child does not know or someone of slight acquaintance, who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.)
Over 2,000 reported missing each and every day. Dear God.
So this morning, I spent even more time playing with my girls, holding them in my arms and burning the memories into my mind like faded photographs of happier times from my own childhood.
That was when I wept.