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A Familiar Name

What if Noah had wandered off the beach and somebody lured him into a car? He could be miles away by now.

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“Noah!” I yelled. Could my five-year-old son even hear me over the crashing waves and the noisy buzz of the Labor Day crowds on Oxnard Beach? “Noah!”

I ran across the sand, my heart racing, weaving through a forest of beach umbrellas and sunbathers. Every few feet I stopped to ask, “Has anyone seen my little boy? He’s got dark hair, blue eyes, three feet tall, in camo trunks?” No one had.

I looked up toward the road, at the bike-riders and skaters zooming by.

What if Noah had wandered off the beach and somebody lured him into a car? He could be miles away by now.

Normally, I wouldn’t have let my son out of my sight. Today, though, we were with our extended family. It was our first big outing together since my husband’s mother, Noah’s beloved grandma Anita, passed away, two months earlier.

With all the extra eyes around to keep watch, my husband and I had felt secure in running back to the car for some beach toys Noah had forgotten. We returned to find our 23-year-old daughter, Tawny, near hysterics. Her husband, Jeff, was trying to calm her.

“He was right there, playing in the sand,” Tawny said with a sob. “I only turned around for a second and then, when I turned back, he was gone!”

We called the police, and split up to comb the beach and the surrounding neighborhoods. At first, I told myself not to worry. Noah ran like the wind, but he never went far. Maybe he’s scared and hiding, I thought. He’ll come out if he just hears a familiar voice.

I’d taught Noah never ever to talk to strangers, and to approach only a police officer or someone he knew and trusted if he got lost.

Five minutes turned into 10. Then 20. I was growing frantic. Lord, please protect Noah….

I heard my cell phone ring. It was Tawny.

“Noah’s all right,” she said. “Jeff found him on the street, walking back to the beach with two elderly ladies.”

I almost fainted with relief. I found our family gathered around Noah, but the two Good Samaritans had just left.

“They told us they knew somebody had to be searching for him,” Jeff said, “but he wouldn’t say a peep. Until one of them introduced herself. She told him he could call her Grandma Anita.”

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