growing up on the spectrum part 7

Hey everyone, I felt really compelled to write this story as is one of the hardest to write and one of the lesser known.

The day she got lost…

When I was 12 and in the beginning of my 6th grade year I had a typical day. Went to school, anticipated the end of the day and when 3:30 pm rolled around I was ecstatic. Once the bus left the school  and we were in the middle of rush hour small town traffic my friend turned to me and said “hey that looks like your sister.” I completely ignored her comment because I knew that Rachel was on the bus on her way home. When I was dropped at my stop I made the 10 minute walk up to my house only to be greeted by my mama in tears.

“They can’t find Rachel”…

In that moment my entire world shattered and I began to lose my grip on reality. How could the school lose a 10 year old Autistic girl? Well this is how…

Apparently the bus driver, a woman whose name I cannot remember, called the school and said she would be running about 20 minutes late. Rachel knew she needed to get home, so what did she do? She began to walk. She ended up walking from her school to Rattlesnake road, which according to google maps is only  a 3.1 mile walk averaging about an hours time. We had everyone in our family out looking for her. I remember when my mama was on the phone with 911 her describing what Rachel was wearing and that was an ever harder thing to hear. Rachel was obsessed with purple at the time so a lot of what she wore was purple. She had on a white shirt with purple shorts and white tennis shoes with white and purple socks. I remember hearing that description and my heart breaking. We were fearing the worst at this point. I was on the phone calling friends who may have seen her. It was at almost an hour after I had been home that I told my mama I was going to walk down to the end of the road just in case she did walk home.

During this walk all I remember was praying. Praying that she was okay. Praying for her to come home and praying for all the courage I could get in case something had happened to her, I was ready to be a rock. A car that I recognized was driving up the road towards me. When the driver came into focus I realized it was my mama’s boss and long time family friend Tommie. When she got up to me she rolled down her window and said “Look who I found” When I opened the door there was Rae, in her purple and white outfit. She was scarlet red from the heat of walking and even more sweaty. I remember grabbing her and hugging her and asking “what the hell were you thinking” Never had I had such a moment of total and complete bliss in that moment holding onto her. When Tommie got to our house and my mama saw Rachel she  hugged Rae, sent she and I inside to get Rachel changed and get some water. I however sat outside and watched as my mom held Tommie and sobbed uncontrollably. About an hour later my Aunt Nana and some cousins came by to check on Rachel. Our cousin Victoria, who is closest to me in age told me about how when she was trying to ask people if they had seen Rachel, she was crying so hard nobody could understand what she was saying. People had seen her and mentioned the direction she was going. The crazy part is, Rachel knew exactly how to get home to us. She knew when to cross the street in traffic. She knew what landmarks she had to pass. She knew she needed to get home.

Never before in my life have I been more terrified. You will never understand the feeling you get when you hear  your special needs sister is lost. I am not a mother nor do I know how my mama felt when she received the news but I know how I felt.. I felt weak, and sick. I felt 100 percent helpless. I remember thinking what if I never see her beautiful face again? What if I never get to make her laugh? All I wanted was to see her in her purple and white outfit.

This happened 15 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember everything. In all my life I have never felt so insanely lucky that she was found safe. I never knew fear until that day. Having her in my life has been such a blessing in so many ways. I thank God, Buddha, Zeus, Gaia, anybody for keeping her safe and bringing her home.

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