You don’t know what you don’t know! Thankfully there were things I never had to “know” years ago as I went about my life living as if I was exempt from the sorrows and the trials that only plagued “other families” I never imagined that I could and would soon become a victim of my own mind.

“She was stolen, she is lost, she is being sold, she was hurt, she is dead” It took ten minutes for these thoughts to run through my head when Ella got lost in Italy. She had been under anesthesia an hour prior and was in a stroller in the grocery store because she is disoriented after being sedated. Imagine a grocery store twice the size of Wawa. She must have gotten up when one of us turned to grab some food for the evening and that was it. I thought she was with Hut and he thought she was with me. In a matter of minutes we realized she was nowhere to be found. Almost everything went blank…it was a big fuzz all around me and I couldn’t hear anything but my own voice screaming “Ella!!”

Imagine forgetting how to say daughter in Italian, how to say anything because your mind goes blank, all you can do is scream that your daughter is gone!! We searched the store which took a quick minute and ran outside. People were staring as we were screaming as seconds turned to minutes. The police showed up after about ten minutes asking for pictures of our precious Ella. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Suddenly a crowd drew and we found some amazing people who could speak English. Italian people who became our lifeline with the police and who would become our friends still today.

After 30 minutes I had every worst scenario played out in my head and there was still no Ella. We were almost a mile from our “home” at the hotel so after searching the pond behind the store and the local stores Hut decided to run back to the hotel.

Forty minutes after Ella went missing my phone rang and it was Hut. Ella made it across two bridges, past the pond, up the elevator stopping at the second floor in the hotel to end up going to the fourth floor, walking to the last room on the floor where she sat in front of our door waiting for someone. When he called me I remember falling to my knees unable to talk but only able to cry. Ella was alive and we were granted such a miracle that afternoon when she safely made it alone at 6 years old back to where we would find her.

I knew how lucky we were especially after the police shared with us that just last week a child was taken at the Food Expo in Milan where over 115 countries were participating (where we were supposed to go the following day) As of that day the child was not found.

We went on with our trip and their testing and were eager to get home.

Months go by, maybe years and I never realized how that moment affected me.

The last two years I have started to realize just how much that day has changed my life.

The situations may be small, they may not be worthy of worry but in an instant it takes me back to her being gone and all the terrible things that could happen to her. I remember how these feelings came out early this year when Hut told me the bus passed and Ella did not get off, but the other boy did. I remember not being able to breathe as I watched the seconds tick away on the clock hanging in the kitchen. Did Hut have the wrong bus? Was she late? She is normally home by now. Seconds turned into minutes as I called the school and after what seemed like forever Ms. Finnegan answered and helped me. As she put me on hold, I was texting Kristin, and watching the clock tic… that is when I really knew how NOT normal this was. I was losing my shit and… and nothing! Kristin said Sophia was home so why wasn’t Ella? The anxiety grew until I thought I heard a bus… at the same time Ms. Finnegan came back on the phone and said the driver was running late and she should be home any minute. I apologized first, then I thanked her and hung up.

I didn’t realize how much I was shaking until Ella ran to me like normal and as I hugged her I could feel my body shaking from inside like a cold winter’s day. After getting her safely inside I had to take time to compose myself, but as I did this, so much came rushing back and I realized just how much I was affected by that day years ago in Italy.

Something as simple as putting the kids to bed in one spot and waking at 3 to check on them is normal but for me when someone changes spots, even before I look in other beds my heart races and my mind becomes my enemy sending me to the depths of the darkest possibilities.

This PTSD is every growing unfortunately and it has happened numerous times since the bus incident. It’s horrible and I can’t imagine an end.

I go to bed and pray for those in situations where PTSD takes away your joy, makes you scared and makes you a prisoner in your own mind.

I once said that being a prisoner in my own mind feels like I am being buried, but my dear friend said “Becky maybe you were just being planted and need to bloom”

I pray every day that I get closer to acceptance and healing from all of this and it propels me forward with new lessons learned and growth to be grateful for 💙❤️


~ by Rebecca on August 6, 2020.

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