Next round of thank-yous — to the Prayer Warriors

Really, I feel as though I was prayed home. My parents and sisters prayed. The congregation at First Presbyterian in Argenta — our church — prayed. And so did countless other churches and prayer groups and, well, people all over this state, many of whom have never even met me.

Several people have noted the timing of my rescue: 12:45 p.m. Central Time on Sunday, pretty much right after church services concluded.

I did a lot of praying myself, granted. But there’s something about knowing that others out there are doing a little chatting-up with God on your behalf.

My mom prayed that I wasn’t scared in Rick’s absence. And you know, I wasn’t. Once he left, I actually felt relieved, because we’d finally made the decision that we both knew was inevitable.

Mainly, I focused on the stars that first night. Out in that part of Texas, where it’s so desolate that there just isn’t light anywhere, the night sky is magnificent.

The Friday after we returned to Arkansas, Rick and I went to our primary-care doctor for follow-up care. He ordered some lab work, which worried me a bit. At the hospital, I had four different IV sites during my time there. And there were a couple of failed attempts to find veins on my hands. I wasn’t confident that there was much left for the lab technician to work with.

“Sorry,” I said, as she poked around for something usable. “I’ve been in the hospital. I’m the one who was lost in the desert.”

She stopped, looked up and grinned.

“I’m one of the Prayer Warriors who prayed for you,” she said.

“Thank you,” I said. “Tell the others it worked.”

I also need to thank the many people who brought over food — first for my parents and kids, and then for Rick and me.

We’re fortunate to know some really talented cooks, so not only are we not in the kitchen, we’re eating food that’s better than we would normally make!

Lastly, there are our many friends who sought to help my parents, who were trying to shield the children from what was happening even as they took calls from Rick and remained in constant communication with sheriff’s dispatchers in the area.

They visited my folks at our house, handled all of the media calls and kept the kids distracted.

Which brings me to one of the little miracles that occurred in our absence.

The Sunday that we were due to return, my parents knew that they would have to tell the children that we weren’t coming home and why. At that point, I remained missing. One of my sisters drove up here and prepared to explain — or to try to explain — everything to our kids.

But that day, just before she sat down with them, one of my friends (Moody Mom, in fact), arrived at the house and offered to take the children over to her place for awhile.

As the kids played over at Kristina’s house, the call came: I had been found. Alive.

That means that when my sister had to tell the children that we wouldn’t be home that night because I had been lost, she also could quickly add that I had been found.

It was only one instance of divine timing.

On Saturday, my dad opened a bottle of champagne he had bought to celebrate our return.

My mom wanted to offer a toast to someone she thought needed toasting. She spoke briefly.

And then, as our glasses clinked together, she mused, “I bet that’s the first time someone made a toast to God.”

Pen and Ink drawing of First Pres in Argenta by Dr. Mary Ann Stafford.

Pen and Ink drawing of First Pres in Argenta by Dr. Mary Ann Stafford.



I once was lost …

First, a big thanks to my fellow Little Rock Mamas for their love and support.

I return to work tomorrow, and can’t wait to see them and the rest of my newsroom family.

As for my rather harrowing adventure — yes, I was found naked. I’ve been giggling like a a teenage boy over all of the media accounts of my nudity when rescuers stumbled across me.  London’s Daily Mail account is by far my favorite. It manages to use “naked” four times in the top third of the story.

(Yeah, humor is my favorite coping mechanism.)

I will be writing a story about everything that happened out there. Because, yes — writing also is a form a therapy for me.

Right now, however, I want to thank the many people who worked tirelessly to make sure that I was found.

Tucked under my little shade-tree/bush, I felt so tiny in that vast desert.

I yelled at the helicopter each time it flew over me. I periodically called out for help, just in case any search-and-rescue teams might be nearby.

And then, Sunday, that team of men and women rushed down into the arroyo where I had drifted in and out of consciousness.

I was stunned by the number of people who had been looking for me. And I was even more stunned when I found out that my searchers included not only those in the air and on the ground, but also Arkansas State Police, politicians in Arkansas and Texas, and federal authorities working from both states.

I was not, however, surprised to learn of my newsroom family’s efforts. I knew my friends and bosses would be making calls and hounding anyone they thought might be able to help. So even while lost in the desert, I comforted myself with two facts:

My husband, if he was still alive, wouldn’t quit until I was found.

My newsroom friends would be just as tenacious.

When I refer to those friends, I am including those who used to work at the paper before changing careers, by the way. You can take a journalist out of a newsroom, but …

Anyway, thank you, ALL of you.

I’m on the mend. Recovery is quite a bit slower than I’d like, but I’m trying to be patient. Right now, most of the pain comes from my knee — which may mean yet another doctor’s visit — and from the cactus thorns that remain in my hands and mouth.

(Mouth? Uh. Yeah. I ate a lot of cactus out there. Turns out that even the pulp contains tiny, hairlike needles. Ow.)

I leave you with a photo of my poor, battered, scratched-up legs. (Hubs took this picture in the hospital.)

Yes, they look pretty awful. But those legs served me well. And I have a new appreciation for my body — for both its strengths AND its limits. I would, however, prefer not to put them to the test again anytime soon!