1. Visit relatives over the holiday weekend.
2. Allow children to venture into the hills and woods into which they always venture, and in which they have never gotten lost.
3. After several minutes, realize the children did not apply bug repellent.
4. Agree with sisters-in-law that children need bug repellent.
5. Head outside and call for children.
6. Feel annoyed when they don't answer.
7. Tell Atticus that his voice is needed in order for the kids to hear the summons.
8. Watch Atticus return to the house with a worried look, saying he hasn't heard or seen the children.
9. Panic a little, but silently, because Ramona is listening. Fan out. Search, call, lose your voice. Pray. Keep Ramona calm. Imagine the worst, imagine the best. Imagine yelling at your children because you are so frightened. Wonder how many ticks Ramona might have on her at this moment. Realize that only 10 seconds have passed. Pray.
10. Continue searching and yelling and getting reports of "nothing" from husband and sisters-in-law for the next 30 or 45 minutes (who knows how long? Time has been standing still although at the same time, it feels as if half your life has passed.)
11. Suddenly hear sister-in-law say, "We found them!" and hear small voices saying, "We're found! We're here!" and allow tears of relief to spring to your eyes. Realize you have no control over the angry tone coming out of your mouth before the children are even in sight, as you say, "Where were you? We've been looking for over half an hour! We were so worried!" And then realize you never really felt angry, but anguished, because you knew they were lost and not hiding.
12. See your husband leading your sobbing children toward you. Fall into a mass of arms, hair, kisses, sweat, tears and hugs. Take children inside and then hug your niece and nephew too, and reassure them that you were not angry with them, only frightened and worried. Tell them you just recently explained to your own children how fear sometimes sounds like anger.
13. When next you pray, realize that your regular nightly prayers of gratitude for your husband and children may sometimes sound rote. Know that they are not. You really mean this. You are grateful beyond all imagining for these people and you hope to never again feel the fear and panic of what life could be like without them.
14. Hug them. Repeatedly.
15. Even though you weren't really angry, remind yourself to tell the kids that if they ever again leave the trail you will have to ground them until they are of legal age.