The Day I Lost My Child in Charles de Gaulle Airport


I heard the timid voice from the seat behind me, followed by a flight attendant handing over a miniature can of Coke.

The accent was almost perfect, the delivery immediate and flawless. It was only five words, five words in the course of a day that was supposed to span nearly half the globe, one that included two delayed flights out of Barcelona, two missing pieces of luggage, and an impossible connection time in Paris.

It was five words and in less than two hours, I would lose that little person speaking French in Charles de Gaulle International Airport: my 11-year-old son.

Sprinting back and forth along Terminal 2E, I yelled his name over and over as the heads of nervous and concerned travelers followed me from their moving sidewalks. “Oliver!” I yelled at the top of my lungs, “OLIVER!!!” hoping my voice would carry into every nook and cranny of this huge terminal.

Every night as a family, we go around the table and each person lists off at least one highlight from their day, something for which they are particularly grateful.

Almost without fail, the highlights of our day, our week, and our year are found in everyday, mundane exchanges made exceptional by their authenticity:

“Playing on the trampoline with my brothers.”

“Going to the store with Maman.”

“Going for a bike ride with Papa.”

This trend remains consistent no matter whether we’re sightseeing in Paris or holed up in our home on a rainy day. And yet, even with entire journals filled with simple highlights, we’re not immune to seeking out the Eiffel Tower moments of life, especially when we’re traveling. We still fill our itineraries to overflowing with this museum or that monument, and then wonder why they never make the highlight reel at the end of the night.


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