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Old Phone He didn't call.

And he always calls. Always. Husband, that is.

The day was drawing to an end. I was on a call that spanned beyond Nanny's 6pm quit time. And when I finally emerged from my study, I apologized and cut her loose. And then the girls and I had a marvelous time. Drawing pictures. Reading books. Melting down. The day was drawing to an end.

And when the clock ticked past 6:30pm and Husband hadn't called or texted to say he was homeward bound, I startled. (I will pause and allow you your moment of envy. I know plenty of you do not arrive home or have partners who arrive home at this sane hour.)

Moment over.

He hadn't called.

And I tried calling him. At the office. Voicemail. On his cell. His phone was off. His phone is never off. Unless he is on a plane. And 99% of the time I am on that plane with him and that means I am not calling him. But it was off. Or dead. And I know he has that cute little white charger at work, so I was a bit baffled.

Maybe he was on a subway when his phone died. Maybe.

And then 7pm rolled around. Which is the universal faux bedtime around here. So we marched toward bed. And though a wee bit panicked, I put up a good front. Toddler and I put Baby to bed. I held tiny hands. I brushed tiny teeth. I kissed tiny cheeks.

And then 7:30pm. At this point, my heart chimed in. Pounding strong. Toddler lounged next to me on Mommy and Daddy's big bed watching her third and final Max & Ruby of the evening (judge away) as I fiddled with my phone, starving for answers.

I was freaking out.

I actually picked up my phone to look at the New York Times website to see if anything terribly tragic had befallen Manhattan, and my man, but then I saw I had a call!

From Mom.

I picked up and she asked how I was. I told her that I was fine, but that I was beginning to worry about Husband because he wasn't home and he hadn't called and this never ever ever happens.

And I was hoping for reassurance. But no. Just silence. She is a mother after all. She knows worry like the back of her hand.

Thankfully, that silence was short-lived. Call-waiting. It was Husband. He'd been stuck in a meeting for three-plus hours during which his phone had died.

Of course. Of course.

I clicked back to Mom. I told her that all was fine. But I also told her that I had a good twenty minutes of pure, unadulterated panic.

"Welcome," she said. "Welcome."

And then she told me a story she'd told me before. But this time? This time, I heard it. It was a story about one day when I was super young and I left home early one morning to meet my friend to take the bus across town to school. About how that friend called Mom thirty minutes later when I hadn't arrive to meet her. About how my mother lost it, lost it, and went to school to find me. To make sure I was okay.

And I was. I was.

And there was hardly a complicated explanation. I had waited five minutes for my friend at the bus stop and when she didn't come, I hopped on and rode to school. I never thought much about it.

A delay at a bus stop. A meeting that runs late. A dead phone.

Pure panic.

I am fine. He is fine.

Fine.

But for several long terrible minutes last night I was far far away from fine. I was scared beyond measure. My imagination, my treasured tiara and toolbox, ran wild and free. It wasn't pretty.

But maybe these stretches of panic, however pure, are good for us. Because they remind us, however cruelly, about what matters. What really matters.

And then they end. And we choke out giggles of relief.

Husband walked through the door last night. He caught the last two pages of Toddler's bedtime book. And then we sang our nightly song. And planted kisses on opposite sides of her sweet face.

And on the other side of her bedroom door, I kissed his cheek. And realized how scared and lucky I am everyday. And that I suddenly and unwittingly had fierce fodder for another blog post.

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  • Have you had moments of profound panic when you couldn't contact someone you love?
  • Do you think living in this digital age where we have grown accustomed to abilities of insta-communication has made us more prone to panic?
  • Does your imagination run wild when you aren't privy to immediate answers?
  • Do you think we writers - with our wild and woolly imaginations - are more vulnerable to moments of real-life panic?
  • Have your parents regaled you with stories of your childhood that help you make better sense of the intricacies of your adulthood?
  • Do you agree that panic reminds us, and cruelly, of what really matters to us?
  • When do you or your partner arrive home? Am I spoiled?

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