lost in the quiet

We lost Rylie on Sunday.

Or, rather, Rylie lost us.

I wasn’t even there and, yet, I cannot stop thinking about it.

Rylie is a shadow… she sticks close.  So close that often I have to physically push her away to make dinner. Read the mail. Take breath.  Losing Ry has never been a problem.

There is one things that Ry loves more than her parents, and that is Apple. So when she and Curt went to town on Sunday to fix the disaster that was his iPhone, she was immediately at home with the iPads and the nanos and the iPhones.  All those screens.  All those those shiny, beautiful screens.

When Curt stepped forward to talk to the salesman, he stepped out of Ry’s line of sight.  When he turned around a couple minutes later to do a visual check-in, she was crying.

You know that feeling…

when your kid thinks they’re lost and you know they weren’t really lost but they’re terrified and so you’re terrified for them? It will break your heart.  Curt told me that 5-second story as we were falling asleep Sunday night and my heart still aches.

There are days when we completely forget that Rylie cannot talk like the rest of us.  Her disability is invisible, and from a distance she looks like every other kid in an Apple store… thrilled.  Even the getting lost part… totally normal kid experience, right?  Everyone’s been lost at one time or another. It can be easy to forget- we celebrate days we forget– that she’s got this little thing called apraxia!

But then the ending slaps me back into reality.  How does my child ask for help?  If Curt weren’t there, if I weren’t there, if her teacher her friends her brother weren’t there… how would she tell someone?

She can’t.  

She can’t verbalize our last name, our phone number, our address. She just knows she’s supposed to be with us.  And so it’s taken 6 years to realize my greatest fear- that her jumbled voice means she literally cannot ask for help.  Cannot explain to a stranger why she’s crying.  Cannot find her way home.  Ry is amazing at getting her point across… but this is one area that is beyond her.  Because when you’re afraid or hurt, nothing comes out right… for anyone.

Practically, I need some ideas.  Phone numbers in her clothing? A medic-alert bracelet?  What? What do you do?

Spiritually, I need some calm.   I cannot live every day worried that she will come to harm. The world is a hard place, but Ry brings out the best in it.

Emotionally, I need some courage.  Plain, old-fashioned courage to let that girl grow up and walk away from me.

And I’m thinking my neighborhood, my village here, can help me with some of that.

We love you here at TexasNorth.

About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

19 responses to “lost in the quiet

  • Jim B

    I would think a medical alert braclet with glitz would work and she would love the glitz

  • Catherine Fruisen

    This is scary even for little ones who can talk! (When Gray was smaller, he could talk, but wouldn’t… especially when he was afraid.)

    I thought the same as mentioned in the comment above: a bracelet could be pretty… something from Things Remembered. But maybe that would be too tempting a toy. I can’t wear jewelry because it either bothers me or I play with it and, in either case, I take it off.

    I’m sure you’ve seen custom labels used by seamstresses? You could stitch one onto Ry’s every hem (on the outside, like a fancy designer label). –>

    Trusting God with our kids is the ultimate step of faith, is it not, Katie? I am begging him, “Be with my son, Lord,” because I often CANNOT be there… new school, new sports (that he’s rather not play), new everything. And I pray and trust, and my son still has bad days because, as you so astutely observed in this post, the world is a hard place. Thankfully God knows Rylie’s limitations and yours and he loves you both and is on top of it, and we’ll all be praying for you, too.

    “God, protect Rylie and Katie and all of the Mulders, and bless them indeed. Amen.”

  • Corrie

    I agree with Jim. A medical alert bracelet with name and phone number. They also make temporary tattoos with name and phone # too, which I know will be a big hug in our house with Tyler one day. And while Rylie has her challenges and characteristics that make her truly unique, I think every parent goes through the same fears and concerns at some level. You are not alone, cousin. And if I ever lose Tyler, I’m going to assume he’s hitch hiked to Michigan to get into some shenanigans with Gus.

  • Bev Vanderwell

    oh Kate,
    Practically? bracelet is a good idea. or necklace. Etsy shop Brandy and Derek Mesa Dreams makes cool leather tags and bracelets.
    Spiritually? I prayed for you as I read this. I also was reminded of a sermon I heard just last Sunday night. It was on Abraham obeying God’s call to give up his son to God for the sacrifice. Abraham trusted God with his son, even to the point of death. I am so far from that level of trust, but I am growing. God is holding Rylie in his hands and NOT ONE THING can snatch her out.
    Emotionally? huh. I could use a dose of that too. there is a quote from We Bought A Zoo that fits here. “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” Here is to insane courage supplied by God and brought into action by one step or one word from us.

  • Miriam

    A few years ago after a surgery – it hit me. The nurse was concerned that Blue wasn’t sitting up and talking. Um…he can’t!!!! I came to this same realization through that experience and wrote this post about medic alert bracelets and the companies we’ve used.


    You are thinking along the right tracks and doing a great job, Momma!

    Praying for that IEP!

  • Kelly

    Katie, I remember a time when Evan was lost from us at Chuckie Cheese. His speech was so bad, he could not say his name. I remember that panic. I’m sorry you are feeling that now.

    How about a road ID? Since the boys started doing triathlons, I didn’t like them being out without ID. They now wear them everyday, not only while out running or riding. It has my name and number on it, and emergency
    Personnel can call an 800# for more info.

    Good luck, Katie. You will all be OK.

  • Kathy in Chicago

    I saw this once on Oprah & immediate had one for my son who didn’t talk made…. an ID bracelet, not one of the catalog ones, but one we picked out together (I think it had a heart on it). On the front it we had “REWARD” engraved. On the back was my cell #. All he (or someone else) had to do was look at the bracelet & know that Mom was just a phone call away. When he finally did talk, he thought it was great, he kept wearing it because “I don’t have to remember your number”.

    You are lucky that Rylie doesn’t wander off…. if my son saw or heard a dog, he was over playing with it before I knew what happened. Didn’t matter the size… I remember his pulling on a St. Bernard that was taller than him, and having to apologize & explain to the owner that Jon didn’t talk, but he loved dogs, & he just wanted to show me the dog.

  • Amy L

    I just read Numbers 6:22 – 27 this morning; I pray this blessing for you.

    Have fun picking out a bracelet or id band: great ideas above. Now comes the choosing and having Rylie involved is a wonderful idea.

    You are not alone in your worry for letting your child(ren) out into the world. I carry these worries at times but have to remind myself {often} that I cannot be with them all day; every day. I lean heavily on prayers and my relationship with God in those moments.

  • Julie T

    My son Nick had a necklace which he hated. Then we got him a bracelet which he tolerated because it had a fire engine engraved on the front side. On the back I had his first name, my phone number, and ‘learning to speak’ engraved on it (because who else knows what apraxia is?). I’m sure you could find cute beaded things on Etsy that could be personalized and not be so “medical.” We also made sure he understood why he needed to wear it, and how he could use it to ask for help.

    • Kim Aguilar

      I just keep thinking about what I would do if I found a lost child that couldn’t talk to me. And it’s actually happened a few times…you know, when you find a little one in the store that’s wandered too far. Usually these kids are reticent to talk to strangers and don’t know what to do, even if they CAN communicate. But I love Julie’s idea of putting her child’s name, her phone number, and “learning to speak.” That would clue me in as the person who had found the child, to not try so hard to communicate with them, and to just DO for them, if that makes sense. If I found Julie’s son, I would just say to him, “Oh! Okay, let’s call your mom, okay Nick?” and start dialing. But I think the kids have to understand that they need to show the id bracelet/necklace to the person that is trying to help. I like the idea I’ve seen on pinterest of teaching kids to find a mom with little kids and ask for help, which in this case would mean physically going up to the mom (stranger) and pulling on her arm to get her attention, and then show her the id. I think that should be practiced at home, where someone pretends to be the stranger. Maybe you invite someone (with kids in tow, just to solidify that they look for a mom—not someone who is alone even if they look nice—to help) to your home that your kids don’t know well in order to practice, or better yet, go to a park or other public place so the surroundings aren’t familiar either.

      As for how to calm your heart and give your soul courage. Katie. That’s what you do. You do it everyday. Through your God and your words and your family and your love. But know that you DO have a community here of friends. We are blessed to have your words to soothe and inspire US. Hopefully, you can feel us giving back to YOU with our thoughts and prayers. We are here. And we love you.

      I lost Clark yesterday for a moment. He was mad at me and ran away from me as we were leaving the school. He got so far ahead I couldn’t see him, and my heart hit my knees. I think it’s easy for us to jump to the worst conclusions, but in reality, the worst is (thankfully) very unlikely. We need to take deep breaths. Wow. Who ever thought motherhood would be like this?!

  • kayleempage

    What about something like a shoe charm? Something that’s out of the way, none annoying (who wants to wear a bracelet all the time!) but that still shouts to the world that this girl is the amazing Rylier Mulder!

    Grace. Peace. Courage. And Calm. Be unto you this day!

  • Nicole

    I saw these charm necklaces on etsy too that you could put her name and number. http://www.etsy.com/shop/LillyEllen

  • Renee Swope

    Hi Katie, I’m one of the new {In}able moms. And I can’t tell you how thankful I am that God helped me find you. My heart aches for you and with you. But oh Im so grateful to know Im not alone. I am in need of these very answers.

    I have a 4year old with Apraxia and just the other day she wandered away without either of us realizing how far she’d gone and it was horrible. We were at a cross-country meet for my 14 year old. I thought she was with my husband. He thought she was with me. Suddenly I looked up and saw a little one dressed in bright pink waaay across the field near some buildings skipping and chasing imaginary butterflies. Thank GOD I had dressed her in a color I could spot easily. But it took days for my heart to recover from the panic and the new “what ifs…”

    Aster has been glued to my side ever since we brought her home from Ethiopia 3 years ago. But we only found out she has Apraxia a year ago {along with other developmental delays}. Ive wondered if severe anxiety comes with Apraxia.

    Praying for you and Rylie!! {and researching cute ID bracelets}

  • Mandi

    I came across this and thought it might be a good idea: http://www.yoursafechild.com/parents-safe-shoes-child-id.html.

    I’m so sorry you are feeling that mama-anxiety! I pray you find the practical solutions and peace you are looking for, Friend.

  • Heather P.

    When Carol was younger there were days she would escape from the house. She has since learned to stay with an adult and not to leave the house without permission. However, when she did take the dogs for a walk without permission and without me knowing, I was frantic. Looking around the block, getting neighbors in on the search, and so forth. That has been one thing that has helped me. Letting the neighbors know the capabilities of my daughter and “using the village to raise the child.” Even at church, people know that if Mom is not close by, Carol is probably not where she is suppose to be. Just last week we went to the Endocrine doctor and she got out of my line of sight while I was registering her. Staff and Security notified and child found playing on the elevators in about one to two minutes. Not fun, but know how you feel. Alert your friends and neighbors and more than likely, they will help. 🙂

  • amanda (@HabitOfBeing)

    Our 4yo has the same problem as your sweet girl and we have found that the medic alert bracelet is the way to go. He can’t get it off so it’s there, through thick and thin.

  • campbell c. hoffman

    I don’t have any answers for you, friend, but I’ve got prayers. You’re covered in ’em.

  • Margie

    I just love all the responses here. The phrase “showered in love” comes to mind.

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