Lost In This Great Big World

by Lance Ekum on · 47 comments

fbc graffiti lost
Creative Commons License photo credit: zen

“Just think how happy you would be if you lost everything you have right now, and then got it back again.” ~ Frances Rodman


Let’s go back about five years.

It all happened so fast…

We had a camping trip planned with several families.  A hot summer weekend to be spent at a local state park.  Enjoying the trails, the lake, the s’mores, the friendships.  Fun and relaxing.  We’d go early, get setup, and have extra time to explore this park we’d never been to.

Setup done, some snacks in our bellies.  Time to enjoy.  Some of our friends were there.  Kids ready to play together.

“Can we go biking?”  they asked.  Our two oldest children, about 7 and 5 years old at the time, ready to go with their friends.

“Sure.  Just stick together.”


And off they went.  Around a big loop in the campground.  Separated from the rest of the park by fields and forest.

Pretty soon the boys came back.  And one girl.  Where was B?  She must be right behind them.  Not long and they came back again.  And still, no B.  Where was she?  We stopped the kids and asked them.

“I don’t know, she was right behind us.”

“When did you see her last?”

“I don’t remember.”


We grabbed our friends, and began to look.  She was nowhere to be found.  We looked through the campground.  Nothing.  Nowhere.


And all of the sudden, this nice campground we were at seemed like a big, scary place.  With too many places to get disappear.

I would take the car and head further out of the camp area to look.  The others would find the camp host, and notify them of our lost daughter.

I jumped into the car and headed out of the camp area, toward the main entrance to the park.  Roads in different directions.  Trails leading into the woods.  Trails leading to a swamp.  No sign of her bike.

A terrible pit in my stomach.  Could this really be happening.  Does she know she’s loved?  Is she safe?  Where can she be?  Did I go the right direction out of the camp area?  Did she take a trail?  Questions bounced through my head.  My eyes peeled for any sign of her.  While the pit in my stomach grew bigger.

I reached the main gate to the state park.  About a mile from the camp area.  Still, no sign of her.  I jumped out of the car, and ran to talk to the park rangers in the office.

And there she was…


The most wonderful feeling in the world!  She was found.  She was safe!  Joy.  Pure joy.  At finding what was lost.  That which we treasure most – the love of another being.  Lost, then found.  All was right in the world.  Forget crime, corruption, poverty, all the world’s ails.  At that moment, everything was right!

She ran to me.  I ran to her.  Tears in her eyes.  Tears in my eyes.  A big hug.  The best hug in the world!  A hug, that a few minutes earlier, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get again.

“Is this your daughter?” the ranger asked.


“Do you have some identification?  And, when is her birthday?” he asked, looking for proof that I was indeed her father.

My wallet, did I have it along?  Yes. But, when was her birthday?  Too many thoughts bouncing around in my head.  I can’t think straight.  It’s January, but why can’t I remember the date.  I’ve got to get this question right.  They can’t take her away from me, now that I’ve found her.  What is the date?  Think!

Having found that which mattered more than dates, more than a camping weekend away, more than life itself..having found her…nothing else mattererd.  At that moment, all else was forgotten.

And then, I remembered.  Slowly, it all came back to me.  Dates no longer lost.  She could come “home” with me.  Her bike loaded into the car, down the road we went.  Shortly down the mile drive back to the camp area, we met my wife and our friends coming toward the park office.  We stopped.  B, with tears still in her eyes, seeing Mom.

“I got a sucker.”

All was right in the world.

At this moment, all was right.

Lance writes stories from his heart, aiming to inspire and motivate, as you align more fully with YOUR true peak. When he's not here, you can find him hanging out with his family, riding a bike, or just generally acting goofy.   Sign up for the Thoughts from the Treehouse newsletter and get additional inspiration in your email inbox!
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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim September 4, 2008 at 7:55 am

Finding a lost child is the absolute best moment in life.


Writer Dad September 4, 2008 at 8:06 am

I lost my daughter in Walmart once, for less than five minutes. That five minutes felt like five hours and each of the stretched three hundred minutes had me feeling like the world’s worst father.

Writer Dads last blog post..Wiped Out and Ready For More


Wendi Kelly-Life's Little Inspirations September 4, 2008 at 8:15 am

My oldest daughter was once lost in a strawberry picking field, the kind of place your whole family goes out for a fun day of picking berries. She was five. She saw a flatbed truck of workers heading back to the main garden house so she hopped up on the back to go get a new basket for more berries. I’m telling you one second she was there and the next she was gone in a blink. I was TERRIFIED.

When we got her back…a very short but seemingly endless time. later..her face was berry red and smiley happy, she had enjoyed a fun ride on a nice big truck, met new friends and ate a basket of berries. I had aged a decade. KIDS. Grrrrrrr……still the best part of life.

yes, I can SO relate to your story……

Wendi Kelly-Life’s Little Inspirationss last blog post..Changing Colors


Annette September 4, 2008 at 8:25 am

My daughter escaped out of the house when she was barely two. I will never forget the panic I felt when I discovered she was missing. I called the police. I found her before they arrived. I saw that my neighbor’s door was open, so I ran over and knocked. I heard her precious giggle. My neighbor was at work but had left her door open. My daughter was under the Christmas tree playing with the kitty. When she was in my arms, I vowed to never let her go again. That day I discovered child proofing devices and became a more aware parent.

My heart goes out to those still looking for lost children and those will never find their child on this earth again. When you find something/someone that has been lost, hold onto them tightly and cherish each moment for you never know how many moments you will have!

Annettes last blog post..Clarity and Peace


Stacey / CreateaBalance September 4, 2008 at 9:26 am

… As a mom and as a little girl who got lost during a family vacation at age 7, I feel your pain and your joy.

Stacey / CreateaBalances last blog post..Drum Roll for My New Blog Roll!


Mark Salinas September 4, 2008 at 10:22 am

Oh yes…I know the feelings… The feeling in the gut, of helplessness, fear and finally ahhh…..the find! Such a wonderful feeling, how nothing else seems important! What a great post! Puts much into perspective! 🙂

Mark Salinass last blog post..Core Challenge


Brandi Magill September 4, 2008 at 10:51 am

Knock on wood, I haven’t lost the kids yet but there is still time as I now have an adventure seeker in the making. I have on the other hand, been lost. We were at our families cabin in the mountains and myself and two cousin all between the ages of 7-11, went for a walk in the woods and decided to take a “short cut”. Little did we know we completely passed our destination by about a mile or two. Two hours later we finally found a house and thank God they knew our family and exactly where to bring us. That was the longest 2 hrs of my life at the time, I can’t remember now if my family even knew we were missing:~( I have told my daughter the story many times to make sure she knows the consequences of venturing off on her own, so far it’s worked!

Brandi Magills last blog post..My Inner Brandi


Kayren September 4, 2008 at 11:08 am

There is no age limit on kids getting lost either…had 3 pre-teen girls go for a ‘walk’ in our near by woods….3 hours later they were found, a little banged up and scared crazy, but otherwise fine, they stay a lot closer to home now.


Urban Panther September 4, 2008 at 12:23 pm

Oh, this brings back memories, only I honestly thought my son was dead. We camped at a place with wonderful shallow rapids. All 3 of my children had several levels of swimming lessons, and are all very responsible, so I would leave them for periods of time. I came back, no son. I asked my daughters and they didn’t know where he was. I started screaming his name but time stopped. It was like walking through a thick pea soup fog. Do I look in the pools above the rapids or below? How long has he been gone? I won’t be able to see him in dark river water! He’s dead. I’ve killed my son. No, he had wandered back to the campground, but hadn’t taken the roadway, so I hadn’t passed him. After all the hugging and kissing and tears were done (on my part) I hauled all 3 of them to shore to reiterate all the water safety lessons. But it was a long time before I left them alone again, just because I never wanted to re-live that kind of scare again.

Urban Panthers last blog post..Acting under pressure


Ellen Wilson September 4, 2008 at 1:08 pm

Oh man, I’ve had this happen with my son a few times. Mainly in big box stores. Once, a security woman said they would have to do a “lock down.” I did not like these words: lock down.

Then I found him wandering the aisles crying for his mamma. I was so happy to see him I couldn’t scold him.

Good story.

Ellen Wilsons last blog post..And the Winner is…California!


Glen Allsopp September 4, 2008 at 2:10 pm

I love the quote at the start of this and the message that is in there:

“You don’t know what you’ve got till its gone”

It’s great that you found her again, sadly, not all parents are so lucky.

Glen Allsopps last blog post..PluginID August Update


chris September 4, 2008 at 2:13 pm

I feel you dawg…

chriss last blog post..A Ray Of Light, Part 7


Dave Fowler September 4, 2008 at 2:31 pm

Lance, this sent chills down my spine. Fortunately I haven’t lost one yet but I’ve often been temporarily unable to find them…. Which isn’t quite as serious as lost.

I remember as a child I would sometimes go on long cycle rides for hours on end without telling my parents. I remember the anger and the delight in my mother’s face when I’d return. It’s funny how two seemingly opposing emotions can exist at the same time.

Great stuff Lance!

Dave Fowlers last blog post..A Policeman’s Lot Is Not A Happy One


Vered - MomGrind September 4, 2008 at 4:33 pm

“Tears in her eyes. Tears in my eyes.”

Tears in my eyes too!

Wow, this was powerful writing about a powerful experience. The sinking feeling in your stomach. The joy upon finding her. Thank you for this post. It made me FEEL.

Vered – MomGrinds last blog post..How To Lose 100 Subscribers in 4 Days


Lanceman September 4, 2008 at 4:44 pm

@Kim – It sure is!

@Writer Dad – Yes, it’s amazing how a short amount of time can seem like forever when this happens. For us, it was probably a 1/2 hour of time, and it seemed like days.

@Wendi – Yes, it’s scary when there all of a sudden gone. Sounds like she wasn’t affected, and probably enjoyed the whole thing, while Mom was a nervous wreck. See her return had to be such a relief.

@Annette – That had to be scary. So young, and then gone. Calling the police was a very smart choice. And my heart goes out to those who have loved ones missing that have not returned. That has to be heart breaking.

@Stacey/CreateaBalance – As a parent, you know what that little person in your life means to you. It is the worst feeling in the world when they disappear. That had to be scary getting lost when you were a child.

@Mark – It does put things into perspective, doesn’t it. When this happens, you really do know what matters in your life.

@Brandi – I bet that was scary as a child. Two hours probably seemed like many more. What a relief to find someone. Sharing this with the adventure-seeker is good, sometimes fear can be a good thing.

@Kayren – It’s easy to get lost. I can still manage to get lost if I’m in a city I don’t know. I’m usually in a car, but still. It can happen to anyone. Woods, especially, can be an easy place for this to happen.

@Urban Panther – OK, that had to be really quite scary. When water is involved, even with good swimmers, you just never know. And, why do kids have to take paths off the main road, anyway? Is it there way of keeping us on our toes? Glad to hear everything was ok. And, as a mother, I’m sure it was such a feeling of relief to finally have found him.

@Ellen – Yes, stores are easy to get “lost” in too. They’re not like a grocery store with nice neat aisles. And they can scoot off so fast, you blink and they’re gone.

@Glen – Right, sadly this isn’t the outcome for everyone. We were lucky, and I’m very grateful for that.

@Chris – Right back at you. It was quite a day…

@Dave – As kids doing this, it just seems like your going out and doing your thing. As parents, we look at it completely different. Interesting what a few years age will do.

@Vered – Thank you. It was a day of experiencing extreme lows, and then extreme highs. And not one I want to go through again. And not one I would wish upon anyone.


Stacey September 4, 2008 at 5:05 pm

I don’t have kids, but I have a niece and nephew and the minute I lose sight of them I panic. I think that’s why I don’t have kids. I don’t think I could handle it! I can imagine, though that you experienced every emotion possible that day…and I’m glad to hear there was a happy ending.


Robin September 4, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Hi Lance – that was gripping, and I loved your conclusions – about it being more important than anything else. I got lost once when i was little on holidays – I went to the shop and turned the wrong way as I came out and was found walking along the highway – my poor parents.

Robins last blog post..Think And It Shall Be So


Jenny September 4, 2008 at 10:11 pm

I can’t even imagine how I’d feel if this really happened but I have had dreams about losing my sister when she was younger, I never did but I’d imagine she got lost and the emotions just flowed, even though it didn’t happen. I can only imagine what it really feels like because I can tell you what I felt was not nice!

Jennys last blog post..Laughter is the Best Medicine


Sara at On Simplicity September 5, 2008 at 12:53 am

If only we could remember to appreciate the gifts we have without giving ourselves heart attacks… I would never say that I’m happy you had to go through those gut-wrenching moments, but the pure joy and love that followed let your girl know that she was loved and wanted in a way that few other experiences could.

Thanks for sharing this; it certainly helped me put a few valuable things in perspective.

Sara at On Simplicitys last blog post..What Could You Accomplish If You Truly Freed Yourself?


Lanceman September 5, 2008 at 5:19 am

@Stacey – Oh, I’m sure you could handle it! We actually surprise ourselves with what we can do when we really need to. And, you bring up another interesting point, when we are with other people’s children – it can be just as much panic, if not more, if something like this happens. We have been entrusted to care for this child from another parent. And, yes it was a very emotional day, and I’m glad it ended with very much positive emotions.

@Robin – I think this is harder on the parents than the kids. As parents, we feel responsible for a child. And the child, sometimes doesn’t even know they are lost. Or they “recover” more quickly. I think we’ve all given our parents a couple of gray hairs, in one way or another. Glad to hear you were “found”.

@Jenny – Yes, just imagine your feelings from the dream really happening. It was one of the most scary moments in my life (if not the most scary).

@Sara – Well, that’s an interesting point Sara. Sometimes it takes moments like this to make us realize what really matters to us in life. When this was all happening, I knew exactly what really mattered. Three hours earlier I was more concerned with making sure we had taken all the supplies we’d need for camping than if I’d hugged my kids and told them I loved them.


Marelisa September 5, 2008 at 9:29 am

What a horrible ordeal Lance, not being able to find one of your children, and especially in such a large and potentially dangerous place as a state park. I’m so glad that you found her so fast! I’m not sure if someone has invented a GPS device you can pin on children to make sure that you always know where they are if you’re at a mall, Disney World, camping, and so on, but that would be a good idea.


POD September 5, 2008 at 12:43 pm

That was a very compelling post and very beautifully written if I do say so myself. 😉

PODs last blog post..Control Freaking


Cath Lawson September 5, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Hi Lance – It’s an awful feeling isn’t it. I lost my daughter in one of the pavillions in Epcot. She was just running round playing and I was following her, but the next minute she wasn’t where I thought she was.

I was terrified. She was found in minutes but a few minutes can feel like a long time when a child is lost can’t they?

Cath Lawsons last blog post..Reaching Over The Fence


FitMom September 5, 2008 at 2:29 pm

Haven’t lost my kid yet, but lots of other scary things have happened! My kid would/does just up and wonder off, which kills me!


Tammy Warren September 5, 2008 at 4:26 pm

What a horrible feeling. I am so glad she was ok. I cannot imagine that feeling. One time in my yard, I lost my son. He had drifted off. I remember having the same thoughts. I so feared he had been kidnapped. It still impacts my thought process today. I seem to always be watching over the shoulder of my children.

Tammy Warrens last blog post..Daily dose of the morning radio show


Lanceman September 5, 2008 at 8:40 pm

@Marelisa – It really didn’t take too long to find her, probably a 1/2 hour or so. But it sure seemed like a lot, lot longer. GPS – I like that idea! Then we know where they are at all times!!

@POD – Thank you.

@Cath – It is an awful feeling. One I never want to experience again. It doesn’t matter where we “lose” them – Epcot, state park, local store – it’s always scary. Epcot is a big place with so many people, that seems quite an ordeal too.

@FitMom – Kids have a way of doing scary things. We have one (our youngest) who likes to wander off. He usually never too far, just enough to be out of sight and make us worry. Sounds like you have one of those too…

@Tammy – It was a horrible feeling. The not knowing. Terrible thoughts running through my head. I was never happier than the moment I saw her safe and sound.


workout mommy September 5, 2008 at 11:35 pm

I got lost as a child and I still remember the fear in my heart when I realized that I was all by myself. And now as a parent, I feel that same feeling every time my son disappears from my view. My husband calls me a helicopter mom, I call it being protective. 🙂

i’m so glad you found your daughter again! how scary for both of you.

workout mommys last blog post..Kind of like a twinkie, but not really


Dr. Cason September 5, 2008 at 11:53 pm

I seriously couldn’t even get through the responses- I had a pit in my stomach reading your story and tears in my eyes when you say you found her. It’s that scary. We all need to remember sometimes to be grateful.

Dr. Casons last blog post..Oh My Goodness What Was I Thinking?


Lanceman September 6, 2008 at 5:06 am

@Workout Mommy – I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be lost yourself. The “all alone” feeling must me very terrifying. Having been there, I’m sure as a parent you are protective. And that’s ok. You do that with the purest of intentions. A helicopter mom – I like that term – I’m guessing that means if someone disappears from site, you’re spinning in every direction looking for them. You care. And that’s what matters.

@Dr. Cason – It really was that scary. The not knowing. The what if’s. How big the world seemed all of a sudden. We do take for granted what we have sometimes, and don’t realize that until it’s gone.


CG Walters September 6, 2008 at 6:33 am

The intensity of that connection, joy, is always there. How unfortunate for us that our lives get so busy that we lose awareness of our joy until it is threatened.
Thank you for this reminder, Lanceman.
many blessings to you and all you hold dear,

CG Walterss last blog post..Serialization of Sacred Vow: Dark Visits


Lanceman September 6, 2008 at 7:01 am

CG – That’s right, sometimes we take that joy for granted – until it’s gone. That’s when we really realize the connection.


Evelyn Lim September 6, 2008 at 8:57 am

Oh my…what an account! I can just imagine how it feels like. I’ve experienced it once or twice with my own kids. My heart almost dropped.

It’s great that she was found by someone responsible. Thank God!

Evelyn Lims last blog post..An Enchanting Vision From My Angels


meleah rebeccah September 6, 2008 at 12:28 pm

That has been my biggest fear. I would FREAK out if I ever lost my son. I can only imagine the relief you felt when you found her and she was safe and unharmed.


meleah rebeccahs last blog post..Is This Really Who Was Want As A Vice President?


Mike Foster September 6, 2008 at 10:35 pm

Man, I feel your pain. Getting lost used to be (and still is, at times) one of my biggest fears. Used as a metaphor for life, this post is even better…and it’s pretty good either way.


Mike Fosters last blog post..Bananarama


Linda Abbit September 7, 2008 at 1:17 am

So poignantly written, Lance! I could feel your panic and your relief and gratefulness

We also lost our son, age 2, once at a park with a lake. Complete terror until we found him wandering around about 10 minutes later, which felt like eternity.

Sorry I’m so late to the party — finally catching up on my reader tonight.


Barbara Swafford September 7, 2008 at 4:23 am

Hi Lance,

What a heart stopping story. I can’t imagine what you must have gone through, but reading the part of when she was found brought tears to my eyes. Thank goodness your story had a happy ending.

Barbara Swaffords last blog post..Open Mic – The Need For Speed


Lanceman September 7, 2008 at 5:49 am

@Evelyn – It is so scary losing a child, even if for just a minute.

@Meleah – It really was a feeling of — “can this really be happening to us”. It seemed so unreal – like something you hear about on tv. And so scary. I don’t ever want to feel that way again.

@Mike – Getting lost, really lost is a fear many have. As a metaphor for life – yes, sometimes we do get “lost” in our own lives. What an excellent point. Because sometimes we don’t even know we’re lost, and we just keep drudging along – not knowing where we are going. Lost in our own life…not even knowing it.

@Linda – Whenever water is involved, it always seems worse, I think. I’m sure that ten minutes was an eternity – especially with your son being so young. Panic is the key word here – there was so much of it, and real panic. And it kept getting worse as I drove along, until I finally found her. And then, relief. As, I’m sure, you felt when you found your son.

@Barbara – It really was probably the scariest moment of my life – when you don’t know what has happened to another life that you care deeply about. The ending was happy, the happiest of all possible endings.


Bamboo Forest September 7, 2008 at 12:00 pm

This is a great lesson. And we should meditate on this day and night. We simply don’t stop to appreciate what we have. Are our hands healthy? Can we grasp a cup, no problem? Why then – do we not express gratitude for it, even if its just a thought.

I’ve always believed being grateful for what we haves requires a conscious effort. We are wired to take things for granted. Thus – we must take it upon ourselves to do the work of being grateful, all the time.

Bamboo Forests last blog post..The Stain Demon Can and Will Taint Your Life


Lanceman September 7, 2008 at 3:06 pm

@Bamboo Forest – I didn’t appreciate what I had (my daughter) until she was gone. And then, once gone, I realized how much I took for granted her being around. And it does take conscious effort or we do take that which we love for granted (because it’s always there). And that does take work…


Tara@From Dawn Till rusk September 8, 2008 at 5:46 am

Just come over from Writer Dad’s site and loved this post. All parents have the horrible sick feeling when in a split second their child is out of sight. I remember watching Minority Report with Tom Cruise which is a pretty lowbrow all action flick, but it featured a dad who lost his son at an outdoor swimming pool and never found him again and that lived with me for a very long time.

Tara@From Dawn Till rusks last blog post..Am I the only one with fond memories of 9/11?


Lanceman September 8, 2008 at 7:42 am

@Tara – Thanks for stopping by! Yes, the Minority Report – a great example of losing someone – and it’s so accurate as to how fast something like that can happen. It is a horrible feeling – one that really makes you second-guess yourself, and question what if…


rebecca September 12, 2008 at 7:34 pm

lance – i cannot think of anything worse in this life than to lose a child. the world is so very different now than when i grew up and it becomes even more scarier and more dangerous the older i get. yes, at that point when your child is lost, nothing else in this world seems to matter anymore. nothing. your own is out there and you don’t know where she is, is she safe, did someone take her, is she hurt, so many things go through your mind. and you make so many promises that if only she is found safe, you’d never allow this to happen again, etc. five minutes can seem like an eternity and i empathize with any parent that has had to go through that. and i am so happy yours had a happy ending.

blessings and light to you dear friend,

rebeccas last blog post..Affirm Life – 911


Lance September 13, 2008 at 6:09 am

Rebecca – Yes, it was the worst feeling in the world. And seemed to last forever. And finding her, really was the best feeling in the world. It all seemed so unreal as it was happening. Like it wasn’t (couldn’t) happening – even though it was. I think it was because I was numb with thoughts racing through my head.


Jim July 20, 2009 at 12:41 pm

I just stumbled upon your web site. How true. A missing child is the worst feeling I have ever experienced. Mine ran off at a county fair. I could picture someone swiping him (he was 3) and throwing him in a pick-up as I frantically searched the fair grounds. He was gone probably 8 minutes which seemed , as we all know, much longer. Some mom found him and was carrying him around looking for us. What a relief when we found him.
I once frightened my parents too. When I was 7 I use to go and watch my parents at choir practice at our church on Friday nights.
I usually played with some other kids that were there. Well this evening no other kids
came along with their parents so I was there alone. After playing for about an hour I got bored and climber under a pew in the back of the church. Somehow I nodded off.
Well, choir practice ended and my parents couldn’t find me. The whole choir looked for me for at least 20 minutes before the police were called. The chuch was located in N.E. Philly and there were some rough areas around. They thought I might had wondered off somewhere.
Finally my mom, in tears, went into the sacntuary and sat on a pew and began to pray that God would help them find me. As she was praying I was one row behind her still sleeping under the pew but heard her voice and woke up.
What an answer to prayer that was.


Lance July 21, 2009 at 7:11 am

Jim – Thanks so much for stopping by. It can be so scary, and seem like forever when your child disappears. I’m glad it all worked out and your son was safe. Those moments are some of the most difficult we can face as a parent. And thanks for sharing about your childhood too. Prayer…I have no doubt that played a part!


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