I lost Piper tonight. For maybe three minutes. It was enough to make my mommy heart panic. We were downtown with friends listening to an outdoor Irish Rock band. It was a perfect summer night: kids were playing tag, parents stood in clusters drinking beer, we knew all the songs. And then. Just like that. Piper wasn’t in sight. She’d been told to stay on the grass. Between sentences I counted my kids. 1-2. 1-2. Sissy. Piper. Sissy. Piper. Sissy. Piper? I scanned the outlines of the grass. I walked from corner to corner peeking behind groups of kids. No Piper. I saw her Daddy cross the green lawn. “Where’s Piper?” he said.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I’m scared.”
“I’ll find her,” he said because that’s what he does.
We went in opposite directions and kept eye contact. The band started back up after their break. Piper wasn’t on the lawn anymore. Then it hit me. Piper would go hear the band. She would dance. I walked to the front of the band stand. She wasn’t there. Then I scanned the crowd for dogs. Because if Piper wasn’t up front with the band and she wasn’t back with the kids, she’d be with the dogs. Then I saw her. Her entire body was curled up on the cobblestone street spooning a huge St. Bernard. He was twice the size of Piper. She took off her headband and tried to put it on the dog. He licked her face. I grabbed Piper by the wrist and hauled her out of the St. Bernard’s lap. I told myself to calm down, to breathe, to be grateful. Piper was never in danger. My heart was.
“You scared me, Piper. You weren’t supposed to leave the grass. You can’t run off without telling me where you are.”
“I was right there,” Piper said, pointing to the dog. “I was right there.”
And she was. It wasn’t far. It was just too far for me.