It’s a moment you never want to witness.

The sharp intake of breath. A name called out, then a panicked shout. Energy explodes outward, shocking through the people moving blindly by, exposing them to one family’s life changing pain.

It’s the moment a child disappears.

Two siblings in turmoil. The older one’s face is splotchy, contorted, tears streaming down her cheeks. Loss embodied in a sister. The younger one stands stunned, silent, confused by angry voices surrounding her and a flurry of frantic activity.

Mothers descend on one of their own, rooted in the spot she last saw her child. “How old is she? What does she look like? What’s her name?” They scatter, desperate to return her to the fold, to prevent a horror from becoming this family’s story.

The unraveling begins.

Panic sparks anger, then accusations. I tell Bear how hard it is for parents who lose a child. How pain and terror rip through them, sometimes ripping them apart, sometimes for good. It’s a permanent tear in the fabric, a shift in the family’s collective memory. Even when the child returns there will forever be that one moment.

I see them standing shell shocked long after their daughter is found. I breathe in the pain of their panic then breathe out strength for the road ahead.