It was. Just one second or really, maybe closer to a minute or so. Just this afternoon, she was wading and swimming. I was watching and talking and watching and talking. When I looked to the sandbar where she had been moments before, I saw a gaping wall of emptiness. Silence where there had been a little girl, just newly 7 years old, in a pink striped bathing suit frolicking in the waves. Her young friend sat near my umbrella and when I asked her of my Blair's whereabouts, she replied that she was in the water the last time she had seen her. If she was in the water then she had drowned, my mind thought in that cataclysmic moment.
I stood and looked, walked towards the giant sea and scanned the waves, the horizon, the beach to my left and right, nowhere. She was nowhere. I could hear my breath rush through my ears and my heart pounded visibly in my heaving chest. Where could she be?
I quizzed those around me, the faces joyful and laughing a minute before were now long and pale; hiding panic is obvious to the panicking observer. I swept my eyes across the water once more, scooped up my toddler son and headed to the deck in my search for the daughter that I hoped has slipped by me unaware. I left my friends standing and shifting while looking longingly at the ocean and I moved quickly through the hot uneven sand and when I rose to the top of the deck, I turned and hungrily looked again. I wondered how I would be able to call my husband and tell him I had lost her.
It was only a few seconds and she was gone. My last glance provided no sudden speck, a tiny figure in the waves or my daughter now walking towards me on the beach. I stifled a sob and breathed in deeply. I may have prayed but I can't be sure. When I headed down the steps towards our house, I saw her. Her small frame was running towards me as she passed by the pool dragging her old blue and red boogie board. Barefoot as always and my face provoked her own crestfallen expression, her wide smile melting as she neared her mother. She had told me she said, told me she was going to get her boogie board but I had not heard.
I love you, I told her. I was worried, I told her. Next time, make sure I hear you, I told her. Life changes in just a second and that second chance was a gift that I will accept and be thankful for and hopefully, learn from the moment that could have been life changing. It was just a second.