“Danny, did you see Mackenzie?”
“She was just standing there in the middle of the yard,” he says, pointing to where my less than five-year old daughter was last seen.
Dusk ascending, I scan the yard, searching for movement. Nothing. I listen. Nothing.
“Mackenzie!” I begin. “Mackenzie!!!”
“It’s not like her to take off,” I say aloud, to no one. Everyone is inside.
I walk, and call out, “Mackenzie!!!” I survey the yard again for movement. Nothing.
A sudden rumble in my ears, I spot a grain truck heading towards the farmyard, behind the quonset, past the spruce bluff, beyond the old granary.
My feet hustle towards the grain truck. “Mackenzie!” I holler again, my voice drowning in the grain truck’s roar. Still nothing. No movement from a little girl in pink.
My mind gets away on me. Fear seeps in. Where is she? I wonder. She was inside with us just a few moments ago. I never left her on her own for long.
Halfway to the farmyard, I continue to call out, “Mackenzie!!!” She wouldn’t have come this far on her own, I tell myself. I turn around and head back towards the house to look for her there.
Feet sprinting this time, I stomp up the back steps. Panting, I yell, “Is Mackenzie in here?”
They sense the urgency in my voice … “No,” they say, glancing around, rising from their chairs ready to assist my search.
I run back out the door, gravitating towards the farmyard once again. The storm within me builds. She has to be out where the guys are … my mind swirls … that Alberta family who just lost their three daughters in a grain truck full of canola. Missing children posters. I expect to find her in a crumpled heap, crushed by a grain truck. It’s getting dark … they wouldn’t see her.
I travel past the place I turned around last time, still skeptical that she would have gone this far on her own.
I spy the grain truck now. The auger swallows canola. I secretly pray that the auger hasn’t swallowed up my child. Please, please, please be here. Please be sure they know she’s here.
I make my way around the back of the grain truck. Nothing.
I cut under the auger, looking towards the half ton. Nothing.
Finally, from the opposite side of the grain truck, I hear, “Mommy!!!”
Oh, such … sweet … words.
“Mackenzie!!! You scared Mommy!!! I didn’t know where you were.” I gather her into my arms, and the storm slows.
“Oh, she’s just helping us get the grain in the bin,” my uncle explains. “I told her she could stay and help some more. She wants to push the button when the auger is done. Don’t worry. I talked to her about staying back.”
My heartbeat eases, and I am immediately comforted knowing that she wasn’t lost at all. The storm building in me was my storm and only mine. I do my best to hide that from her.
My daughter was happy; she was soaking up all the kindness, all the tenderness, all the teachings that only a great-uncle can supply. She was excited and grateful to be spending time with this exceptional man … a man who always has time, especially for his family, even during harvest.
Remembering that the rest of my family is out hunting for her, I travel back towards the house, leaving my daughter there with uncle … allowing them to continue working on their memories of one another.
Of course, on my way back, I thank God. Thank you, oh Lord, for continuing to keep my children safe. Thank you, oh Lord, for these two special gifts. There’s no way I could do this without you, oh Lord. The storm settles. Thank you for reminding me how precious my children are, how precious life is. Thank you, oh Lord.