Before going to bed on Friday night, I thought about how excited I was going to be for tomorrow. I decided I would finally make that box of Cinnamon Streusel muffins I’ve had in the pantry for months and let Riley help me make them since she loves helping me cook. My first session of 2018 was a maternity session that I was so excited for because I have never been able to do one yet and was bursting with ideas.
When Saturday morning came, it was like all our normal weekends. Riley climbed into bed with us and give us all the cuddles. She’d giggle when she poked out noses and we’d laugh as she would try pry our eyes open to tell us she was hungry. It’s always the first word out of her mouth. She grabbed a book to read while we were still trying to wake ourselves up. When she was done we finally started getting up. We dressed her in this new super cute yellow shirt and blue overalls dress that almost makes her look like a Minion and she cried cause she doesn’t like dresses anymore so we tried to distract her with something else.
Saturday’s are our chore days so I told Tony to start gathering up is laundry so I could throw it all in while I brushed Riley’s hair and teeth. I set Riley free and she ran downstairs. I went in to check on the laundry and to ask Tony something. I saw him on the bed and his face just sunk. I figured it was a celebrity death, or something wrong with a movie or show that we watch.
He read the words, “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
I ran to my phone and saw the same words.
What do we do?
Where do we go?
I ran and grabbed Riley and I was just shaking. He grabbed the car keys but we didn’t have anything ready even if we wanted to leave and again, we didn’t even know where we should go.
My dad told us there isn’t anything we can do but wait. We only have minutes. And if we wanted to hide, we could go in our bathroom.
We only have minutes.
Minutes to live.
My nephew had called and wanted to know what he should do. I told him just to go back into his work and stay away from the windows. He told us to make sure his mom was awake cause he knew she was still sleeping. I told him I loved him and Tony ran to wake her.
Meanwhile, I took Riley into the bathroom and soon Tony joined us and we put some towels over us incase the mirror shatters.
While sitting there, I then thought about how I should have gathered some food for Riley, or some water…It’s breakfast time and she doesn’t understand…At least it would keep her busy… Or maybe I should’ve grabbed a favorite toy or book for her to play with but I couldn’t bring myself to move.
I texted a few friends to tell them what was happening, while Tony tried to call his parents and couldn’t get through.
In this moment, I stopped.
We only have minutes.
I didn’t care about me, I just wanted to know if there was anything I could do better to give Riley a better chance to live? God, I just hope if this is the end, that it happens quick so we feel no pain.
I didn’t have my life flash before my eyes like I thought I would. Instead I just thought about the future we weren’t going to have. We weren’t going to be able to see her grow up. We weren’t going to have anymore trips to Disney or New York or where ever else we decide. We weren’t going to grow our family. There were so many things we weren’t going to be able to experience.
It wasn’t supposed to end this way.
I looked at Riley on my lap and gave her a hug. She cuddled into me and I held Tony’s hand.
I started to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. She looked at me and smiled and did her cute little butt wiggle that she does when she is happy.
At least if these are my last minutes, we are all together. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
It was 38 long minutes later after that initial text we received the message saying it was a false alarm.
We let out the biggest sigh of relief.
Riley ran back downstairs her normal happy self. Meanwhile me and Tony took a few minutes to just stand where we were and hug and say more I love you’s.
Tony turned to a little stress eating with Riley while I started to make those muffins I told myself I’d make as a way to TRY get back on track with the day. Riley fed her ducks like she does every morning now.
Then we continued our day with a Target run, her nap, my photo session, then went to swim at my Bestie’s house, before going to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner to get some good food and well deserved drink.
We felt like horrible parents because in all the hustle and bustle, we came to realize that none of us had eaten since those breakfast muffins I made. No wonder she was so angry by the end of the day. When we got seated, she was literally begging our waitress for “eeeeeeeeeeeats”. We watched in awe as she took down a slice of bread, almost her whole kids pizza, some chips from our spinach dip AND the rest of my Mac and Cheese. We just kept apologizing to her and just watched amazed at how much she was putting down. We visited my grandma who is in Hospice to say goodnight before heading back home to go to bed.
I won’t lie here to say that I let Riley stay up just a little bit past her bed time just so I could see her smile and listen to her laugh just a few more times before bed. Because after today, you really just don’t know when you don’t get that tomorrow. I just needed to hear and see those from her before I could let myself take her to bed.
This event is not something that will be easily forgotten. I will never forget the intense fear that overwhelmed us followed by the utter defeat of just waiting to die. Just trying to keep your little one calm when they have no idea what is happening and just wondering if there is anything you could’ve done differently to save them. What surprised me that in the midst of it all, I did still managed to stay calm. While I was scared, I was happy that at least we were all together. And that’s what mattered to me the most. Had one of us been somewhere else, I know my reaction would have been a very different story and likely even more fearful.
Coming out of this, I know one thing for sure. Life really is too short.
Don’t waste it on being angry with someone. Love this life that you have even through all it’s ups and downs. Love each other, Hug and kiss your loved ones. Forgive those you may be bickering with because holding onto resentment is just too much wasted energy. We are stronger together than apart. Cherish every moment. Put down your phone and watch your little ones grow up. They are such cool little humans to let them grow up behind your screen. Take in every cuddle, smile, and laugh that they give you because you never know when life is going to take a sudden turn.
I’m so thankful for that false alarm to give us more days to enjoy with each other. I love all of you and I hope we never have to experience something like this again.