The pretend end of the world.

This is the look that Wookie gives me when she wants a treat.

We had never heard them that loud before.

Yesterday was the Thai king’s birthday, and since we were in India at this time last year, we’ve never been in Thailand when this major holiday is celebrated. We could witness a lot of it, since the back of our house is right up against the municipal government buildings, where many holidays are celebrated. All the government officials were out in their military dress in the morning, with gleaming medals on their chests, there were parades, and marching bands, and monks chanting, and flags and yellow ribbons everywhere. (The king’s color is yellow.)

Kenya helped me make dinner early so that we could watch a movie after, for our movie night. I was just about to get Isaac to bed, when the loudest fireworks I’ve ever heard started going off. They were directly above our house, exploding and then falling all around us.

The level of chaos that ensued in the next five minutes and into the rest of the night hit us like a shock wave from the impact of the fireworks. There was a terrified runaway dog, a screaming baby, a wailing five-year-old, a shouting seven-year-old, and a desperate girl and boy, nine and eleven years old. The fireworks were deafening and so very close, and each of us made a frantic grab at Wookie’s leash as she took off running out the door, driven crazy with fear because clearly it was the END OF THE WORLD. She couldn’t even hear us calling. She ran around the yard but couldn’t get away from the END OF THE WORLD so she ran out the gate and down the street. I sprinted after her, barefoot, and was passed by Kai, who raced after her for all he was worth, but she was just too fast.

Things got crazier. Our neighbor came over to hold Isaac while I got on the scooter with Solo and tried to find her. Kai came back eventually, winded, sobbing that she was too fast and she had gone down to the bridge, every one of my kids began wailing, Leafy shouting that we had to tell people because one of the big street dogs was going to kill her, I wound my way between tourists in the evening market, shouting her name and asking people if they’d seen her. I came across Kai, Kenya and Leafy, with two neighbor children, showing the many police officers a picture of our dog, right after one of the police officers had told me that they had our dog at the police station.

Solo and I pulled up at the police station and there was a young backpacker holding Wookie in his arms. He had seen her running frantically into traffic and grabbed her leash, he said, just before she ended up under the wheel of a car. I nearly adopted him on the spot, uncaring of whether he wanted to be adopted or not. I thanked him two hundred and twenty-six times, took my little dog on the scooter and drove back down the street, through the walking street night market—the t-shirt sellers and noodle stalls, the Pai postcard sellers, the meat-on-a-stick sellers, the pad Thai stalls, and the Turkish kebab guy who always calls out to be as I go past, and tries to fill my pockets with meat from his meat-wheel (what are those things called?) whenever he sees me.

Isaac was still crying when I got home, and I washed my arms quickly (Wookie had pooped all over herself in her fear) and took my baby from our kind auntie neighbor, and calmed him down. The kids greeted Wookie with tears and hugs and told me in many different ways about how scared they had been. I got Isaac to sleep and cleaned Wookie up. We had been planning to watch Home Alone for movie night, but it was too scary for Solo and I wanted to watch something all together. His call was Madagascar, but we’ve seen all the Madagascar movies many times, so I put The Penguins of Madagascar on YouTube and partly watched, partly cuddled our dog, who was still very scared, and partly went upstairs to get Isaac back to sleep whenever more fireworks would go off (in the distance, thankfully) and he woke up again.

We prayed and thanked God together for helping us to get Wookie back, and everyone went to bed and drifted off to sleep. I was left feeling extremely thankful. I was thankful for the fact that we know everyone on our street and that they banded together to help us find our dog. I was thankful that we found her. I was thankful for Thai police and kind backpackers, for a place where I didn’t worry at all when I found my kids running around on the street talking to the police and others about a lost dog. I was proud of Kai and Kenya for being innovative and brave, speaking to strangers in Thai, asking if anyone had seen their little white dog. (They are still very shy with the Thai they are learning.)

I was thankful for my house, for getting past the hard parts of learning about a place, for the fact that when someone told me to go to the police station, I knew it and had been there before. I was thankful for stability, for comfort, for my bed that I crawled into, for curling up under the blankets, for hearing my baby breathing beside me, and for the fact that all the fear had been for pretend things, that we actually have nothing to fear and that it is not the end of the world after all.