Yesterday my friend and I were talking about the child left alone in the car incident. From there, we went to abductions and missing children statistics. The problem with being a parent, we agreed, is walking that line between protecting your child and teaching them to be independent. Dangers, known and unknown, are everywhere. There are predators all over the place. And yet, we have to teach our children to live in the world - they should be able to walk to school by a certain age, or walk to the corner store with their friends by a certain age. Exactly what age, obviously, depends on circumstances.
Yesterday, while my friend and I were talking about this, a man came out of the bushes at an elementary school less than three blocks from my house, and directly across the parking lot from the RCMP station. He approached a girl who was on the edges of the field and had wandered from the rest of her class. He grabbed her, tried to take her with him. She fought him off, screaming, and got away.
Police were called, dogs were brought, but it had begun to rain and there was no trace of the man.
Yesterday, while the dogs were trying to pick up a scent, I was having coffee with my friend. We were rolling our eyes, half-laughing, and saying "What a world! I sometimes wish I hadn't even had kids - they've got such a tough job of growing up, that's IF we can get them there alive."
Yesterday we joked nervously about it, while not truly believing it would ever happen.
But yesterday it nearly did.
Today, somewhere in my neighbourhood, a mother still has her daughter.
She nearly didn't.
Tonight, somewhere in this town, a little girl is going to bed in her own room, with the door ajar and the hallway light on. Her parents are staying up in the living room so she can go to sleep to sounds of safety.
How tonight could have been different for her, I don't want to think about.
Today, it's not an abstract anymore. Today, it's a buzz of fearful conversation over fences, new bonds formed between neighbours as we talk about walking each other's children to and from school. Today, it's a pit in my stomach: nauseated horror.
Yesterday we were speculating on what could possibly happen.
Today we know that, among us, someone else has thought of it. Someone decided to do it. Someone nearly succeeded, right here in this small town in broad daylight and within earshot of police.
In one day - in one minute - everything can change. Everything nearly changed for that girl, for her family.
And I know that living in fear is bad for people. It's bad for me, it's bad for my children.
We can tell ourselves it couldn't happen here, that the chances are a million to one against it happening.
I don't care if it hardly ever happens - even once is too many times.
It's not worth the risk.