I sit up in bed in a panic.  The digital clock reads 1:20 a.m, and when I open the bedroom blind, the porch light casts a bright light across the front lawn revealing an empty driveway. Ella, my 18 year-old daughter, has not returned home from a late night dinner with friends.  

An hour earlier, I had texted her, requesting that she check in and plan to come home.  The thing about my daughter is that she is never far from her phone and checks her social media continuously, so when I wake to find her not home from dinner, my concern turns to panic: My earlier text messages had gone unanswered.  

I wake my husband, but he does not express much concern about the absence of our daughter and instead insists that she is probably with her friends playing board games and not paying attention to her phone. According to him, Ella is safe. Then, he rolls back over and falls into a deep sleep.

I, however, rise from bed, walk into the kitchen and check my Find my Friends phone app which shows Ella near a large Baptist church about two miles from where she supposedly ate dinner with friends.  The orange circle places her on a street I don’t recognize as her friends’ home addresses. My fear meter rises to the irrational level.

My theory of the danger Ella faces goes something like this: Ella is abducted as she walks to her car after dinner; her kidnapper forces her into his car and then drives off in the direction of the Baptist church, stopping to toss her phone into the parking lot dumpster to eliminate any tracking possibilities.

Unreasonable, I know, but when cortisol starts coursing through my veins, unsettling scenarios like this play vividly in my mama bear mind. I send a new, more urgent text.

I’ll give you until 1:45 a.m. and then I’ll come looking for you.  I’m worried.

Salvation! A few minutes later, the text ellipses begins blinking.  Ella is typing her response. Relief washes over me.

I wasn’t with my phone.

Coming home now.

I was at Kevin’s house with Mollie, Brooke and Kristen.

I sigh, thankful my daughter is alive and well. I quietly creep back into the bedroom and slip into bed just as the front door opens.  Ella turns off the porch light, locks the door and walks up the stairs to find me.

“Mom, I’m sorry I made you worry.  We were busy playing a game and I wasn’t paying attention to my phone,” she explains softly.

After a quick hug, my heart calms. Ella leaves for her room, unaware of the dangerous perils she faced in my imagination just a few minutes earlier. For now, there is no need to explain my nightmares to her.  If and when she becomes a mother, she will experience her own worst case scenario thinking, a symptom of a mother’s love for her child.

I turn away from the clock, close my eyes, and whisper to my husband, “Ella is home. You were right. Everything is okay.”

12 thoughts on “Nightmare

  1. I can relate to this scenario that you described so aptly. I tend to ruminate and worry over such things all the time. I ask God, “How is a mother to get any rest with this inate protective nesting nature you have given us?” My husband sleeping soundly all along, my mind can go
    crazy with worst case scenarios all through the night.
    Your description was absolutely perfectly dead on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your post brought back clear memories of nights with the same nightmare experience – one of the hardest things about being a mom – so good to not wish it on your daughter too soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I would have panicked, too! You had me hooked at the very beginning and I had to keep reading to find out what happened. I am glad the story had a happy ending!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh wow – I know those crazy cortisol moments. I love this line when your daughter returns: she is “unaware of the dangerous perils she faced in my imagination.” Too true. Glad that the danger remains imaginary; may you sleep well tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

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