|WOODSTOCK, Ga. (BP) -- It was St. Patrick's Day earlier this year when my newly divorced son, actively serving in the U.S. Navy, decided to spend a fun weekend with his three children at Balboa Park in San Diego.
He made a special trip to the base the week beforehand to purchase tickets for an exciting and fun-filled day since only a few months before he had returned from a deployment overseas.
Before deploying he had intentionally taken the time to form an everlasting bond of love with his children, one they would never forget.
That morning, Jonathan, 14, Joshua, 9, and Stephanie, 5, were taking in the museums, attractions and venues when out of the cool, clear, blue sky, Joshua was gone.
Joshua is a smart little guy, often becoming sidetracked, wandering off to take a closer look at something he finds interesting or peculiar. There was so much for his curious mind to absorb and he couldn't wait to investigate all Balboa Park had to offer.
Once Joseph realized Josh was missing, an agonizing and intense search ensued. Joseph and Jonathan, with Stephanie in tow, ran, searching frantically, through the park for an hour, but Joshua was nowhere to be found.
Out of sheer terror, Joseph decided he had a decision to make and reported Joshua as missing at the information booth.
His decision was made, and Balboa Park came to a screeching halt. An Amber Alert was issued, the gates were locked and doorways into the museums and other attractions were forced into lockdown mode. Everybody -- moms and dads, police and park staff -- joined in the search for Joshua.
As Joshua's Nana, I can't begin to imagine what was going on in his mind. I'm sure he must have been just as frightened as Joseph was. He must have run through the park too, thinking, "I'm in this huge place with all of these people. How on earth am I going to find my Dad?"
Finally, in his 9-year-old mind, he made the decision to return to the spot where he thought his dad would eventually come looking for him.
The search drug on for nearly half an hour when Joshua finally was found in the enormous parking lot, shaking nervously in the mid-day sun next to his dad's truck amongst a sea of other cars. By the time he was found Joshua was pretty shaken up, as was the rest of his family and everyone at the park that day.
All he could think of to say was, "I thought you left me."
Joseph lovingly responded, "I will never bring you someplace and then abandon or leave you. Do you believe me?"
"Yes," Joshua said with his head hanging in embarrassment and relief. Continued...