That morning went by in slow motion. I paced, phone in my hand, from the window to the clock and back again. The clocked ticked, my heart beat, and the phone was silent.
An hour passed, and then another. Then one more. Silence still from the phone. I tested the phone a few times to see if it worked. It did. I phoned my husband's cell phone wondering if he had just got distracted. It rang and went to voice mail. I didn't dare leave a message. I dialed again, and thought better of it... he must not have it on him by now or he would have answered.
Time went by slowly while I held my breath. My heart beat louder and faster. Silence screamed through my kitchen that morning.
What do I do? Do I phone someone? Do I panic now or wait? Will my team leader laugh at me and tell me to relax and wait if I panic this soon? What do I do? Where do I start?
Another hour. The kids grew restless. Why aren't we doing anything? Can't we play outside? Won't you take us biking? My brain did not register all their requests. Then they asked to go to a park to bike - a place they can go alone. I gratefully gave permission and began to help them get ready. This would get them out of the house before the news came so I would have a few minutes to pull myself together before facing them.
We were still in the middle of gathering all they needed and making sure they had their shoes and jackets when the phone rang. I looked at the number and saw it was from my team leader. My heart fell.
He asked if I had heard from my husband. I told him what I had heard and when and asked him what he knew. He sounded grateful that I already knew there was a problem and told me the story. That one man saw what happened and when he was somewhere that he could phone from, he phoned and told what had happened.
Tears began to fall, running unchecked down my face. I sounded calm and quiet as I asked for details. Both? When? Where is the other now? Ok. Yes, I understand. Yes, I will be ok. Yes, I will check on the other wife. Yes, I have the number of the other wife who is not near by. No, she won't answer that phone -try this one. Business conducted with tears falling fast.
The kids began to come into the kitchen ready to go, so I wiped the tears and got them ready to go, hurrying them out the door. Then sat staring at them ride off down the street with smiles on their faces....
Where was their daddy? Would we see him again?
Then I stared at my phone knowing I needed to call someone. But who? Who would understand and be able to be here? What did I need? Who would know how to support me and not dump more emotions on me? What did I need to do? How do I figure this all out?
Two of my good friends were out of town on a trip for two weeks. I wanted them. My mind drew a blank of who else to phone. So I phoned my son's teacher, the husband of one of my friends. Knew I could count on him to help me think, to not be too emotional, to not let me panic.
Talking to him, I remembered who I needed to phone. She came. A good friend. Arrived as fast as she could and wrapped her arms around me. Then I let the tears fall again. We cried. Over a cup of very sweet tea, we made plans. She would stay with me until the kids came home. Then she would take my boys to her house. I would not tell the kids right away - hoping for more news by tomorrow morning - and only tell them that they could have a sleepover. My daughter would go to her best friend's - the daughter of my son's teacher. These two have been best friends since the first day of kindergarten.
A few more phone calls. To the wife of the man who made the call, who saw what happened. He was shaken. He needed to get home. His wife is my friend, like a sister to me. We had traveled together recently and grown closer. I phoned her, and she could not talk because the tears were falling and the fear was winning. I phoned another from our team and asked them to go be with her.
Then we sat in silence drinking tea and trying not to imagine what was happening to these men over there. At least we know who has them, we said. At least the other man got back safely. At least it is us as team leaders going through this and not people under us while we sit in safety. At least... Yet silence sat in long stretches in-between conversation.
Then the phone call from the other wife. So good to hear her voice. But what do you say? Yet such a relief to talk to someone who is with me - to whom I do not have to explain, who does not say, "I can not imagine what you are feeling!". I was so glad not to be alone. Yet it was difficult... I love both of these men, my husband and our friend... and his wife.. and his family... We told each other, "We always knew this day could come." Silence settled again... as if being silent enough might allow us to hear the slightest whisper of what was happening over there.
My friend stayed that morning with me. She thought of the practical things. We straightened up the house preparing for the people that would be coming. We planned how to shield the kids. When they came home, we found our smiles and got them ready to go to her house. Trying to be cheerful. So thankful for her ability to put a smile in her voice and be a place of shelter for my kids who did not know yet. Not everyone could do that without betraying that there was a crisis. The boys left laughing at the fun they would have.
My friend's husband came for my daughter. He walked up to me and hugged me. I wasn't sure he would... or what he would say... but I needed that hug. Then he picked up my daughter who giggled at the thought of staying with her best friend and left.
Silence reigned again in the house. No one came through that whole afternoon. I sat on my kitchen counter staring out at the trees on a little hill and tears ran a steady path down my cheeks. Waiting. Watching. Would I ever know?