It’s been a tense and turbulent time in the Gerritsen household lately, an experience I hope never to live through again.
For four days, my son went missing.
He’s been traveling solo in the Philippines. A week and a half ago, he told us he was going to be backpacking up to northern Luzon and staying in a village somewhere, without electricity. He told his wife he would be back in the city on Thursday and would call her. Thursday came and went. No call. Nor was there a call on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
In the meantime, the news out of the Philippines was horrifying. On Thursday and Friday, after days of rain, there were massive mudslides in northern Luzon, right where my son was supposed to be. Many villages were buried under tons of mud and hundreds of people have died. Bodies are still being dug out of the mud, and many people are missing. The slides have blocked roads and hundreds of thousands of people are stranded, or in evacuation shelters.
For the past few days, I’ve scarcely slept. I’ve sat staring at my computer, watching as every single email popped up. Nothing from my son. My daughter-in-law, poor thing, has been a nervous wreck. I didn’t want to share my worries with her, for fear of making her more frightened. I suspect she’s been trying to spare me as well.
Finally, last night, I couldn’t wait any longer. I faxed a letter to the American embassy in Manila, telling them that my son was missing somewhere in northern Luzon. Just as the fax went through, my computer pinged with a new email.
It was from my son. The son who has managed to age his mother twenty years over the past few days. The son who scared me to death last year, when he got hospitalized with a mysterious tropical disease picked up during yet another backpacking adventure in Asia. He announced that yes, he’s alive and well, after having hiked and slogged his way out of the wilderness, past flooded villages and mud-blocked roads. He is safe and sound.
I’m so happy, I could strangle him.