As my daughter and I were leaving the mall last weekend, we came upon a woman who was shaking, crying, and yelling out someone’s name. Not far away was a man, yelling the same name, with a look of sheer panic on his face.
As a mother I knew that look, I recognized those cries. I knew that in a mall full of Black Friday shoppers, their child was missing.
We approached the man and discovered that he did not speak English. I asked him if he was looking for a girl or a boy. He scrolled through his cell phone and showed me a picture of a beautiful brown-haired girl with two pigtails, about 4 or 5 years-old. Her name was Nala.
Without saying a word to one another, my daughter and I began walking in different directions, calling out the girl’s name. We entered each store, questioned the staff and asked them to look out for her. And the further we went from the mother of that child, the louder her weeping became. My heart was beating out of my chest, quickening with each of her cries.
After several minutes, I walked back to the mother, but the girl had not been found. The mom was hyperventilating now and other shoppers were holding her hand. So I walked off again, stopping other shoppers, asking them to help in the search.
Each mother I stopped sprang into action. Their eyes recognized that fear. Their hearts knew that horror. And our common bond said “It’s no longer time to look for a bargain, it’s time to look for that girl!”
After what seemed like an eternity, with a swarm of people looking for little Nala, she was located by a shopper who led her to her mom.
Dozens of searchers gathered around and cried tears of joy as Nala’s mother embraced her . I didn’t understand a word the Mom said, but my heart felt each and every one. I wiped my eyes and whispered out loud “There’s just nothing like a mother’s heart.”
Minutes later, when we found each other, my daughter was annoyed with me. She’d been dialing my cell for a while, but I hadn’t noticed, as my mind was focused on the search.
I apologized and tried to explain the unexplainable. To tell her that mothers share a bond that only we understand. A bond that transcends language and race, religion and time. And a missing child unites us in a way few others will.
She forgave me, smiled and we headed for the exit. And as we walked together, I thought, “She’ll be a great mom one day.” Because without one word from me, her future-Mama heart had sent her searching for Nala too.
To all of the mothers out there, God bless your Mama hearts. The world is a better place when we look out for each other’s children. And caring for others should never grow old, because everyone was once somebody’s baby.