I lost a child, in my own house, for thirty of the most frightening seconds of my life.
Getting up from the computer I went to check on the girls — I hauled Aurora out of the pack-n-play because she climbed in and couldn’t get out, her usual MO. But Aria… was nowhere to be found. So I hollered her name, because she usually comes running and giggling at me when I do that — she’s usually just hiding in the shadows, ninja style at that time of night, doing something with her toys.
The way our house is laid out, with the gates and locked doors, there was nowhere for Aria to go. The upstairs is blocked off, the downstairs is blocked off… everything is just a big play-area of kitchen + living room + enclosed porch-like-area.
I called again for her.
Panicked, I dug into the pack-n-play (it has giant stuffed animals) incase she was in the dark pile where Aurora had been sitting and something bad may have happened. Graciously and infuriatingly, nothing. I run around the room like a chicken with my head cut off looking anywhere there was to look. Nothing. No Aria. I start shouting in a weird, shaky voice — in a rare ready-to-cry form.
Then I heard Aurora’s little voice barking, “ARIA!” And at first I thought she was just mimicking me in my upset as that’s been going on a lot recently. But she was shouting at the couch not mimicking me casting my voice off in every corner of our downstairs. So I ran over and snatched the blankets up on the couch, hoping…
There was Aria.
Aurora had been hollering at her missing half, who was hidden in plain sight — comfortably wrapped in a blanket, facing away from the TV, totally covered up, and totally passed out.
To not miss a beat in challenging my rapid mood-swinging from panicked to elated, Aurora shouted, “ARIA!” one more time and immediately bopped her sister on the head.
Aria snorted, swatted back at her sister, grabbed back her blanket and threw it back over her head.
That satisfied Aurora who sauntered off.