Lessons Learned From Being One of the Children Missing in Montana

The most terrifying experiences are when we are children and when the world is so big to us.

For a short time, when I was 8, we lived in the vast countryside of northern Montana, where I was schooled in a one-room schoolhouse.

The adults were visiting together in a country building nestled inside a large area with rolling hills.

It was midafternoon, and a group of us children explored the countryside. It was glorious, hiking for miles in what we believed was previously uncharted territory. We discovered hidden nooks inside tree groves and small streams where the cows had obviously lived awhile…

It was late fall, so darkness arrived sooner than we had expected.

In a matter of minutes, all the power we thought we had was gone.

The dark took it away.

It was the 80s, no one had a flashlight app to light our path. We stumbled around in the dark, trying to determine which direction to go so we could at least make it to the road so our parents could find us.

This is the middle of Montana country, and there was no traffic on the road so we could not hear which direction to go. We were tripping over rocks and trees. We could hear the pound of fear in our own chest and the other children as we huddled together.

We were officially LOST.

At first, we were angry at ourselves for not paying attention to our direction, then for not turning home sooner before it got dark, and eventually, we became angry and resentful at not only ourselves but also at the oldest child who was ten years old and who should have been caring for us better.

Our hunger seemed small compared to the sharp cold of the shaded hills. As we huddled together in the dark, in the mind of panicked 10 to 6-year-olds, we believed our parents may never find us.

That was a terrifying and powerless experience in my life.

I often think back and imagine how empowered and confident we would have felt if the same journey was filled with full daylight!


 

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Samantha Postman

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