Well, what a few days actually.
It all started on Friday morning. We decided Julie should go to the hospital after some more pregnancy issues, so we asked her mum to meet us there to look after Chelsea. I had my friend’s graduation from the Police Academy at 1:00pm, so when the scan still hadn’t happened at 12:00, I decided I’d better leave. I would take Julie’s mum’s car back to our place, then pick up our other car and drive it to the graduation.
But first I had to find the car in the carpark. Once you pay for parking, you’ve got 15 minutes to find the car and leave the carpark, but what happens when you didn’t park it there and you have only a vague description of where it is? You spend 15 minutes finding it, that’s what. Thankfully it let me out, but I now had just 45 minutes to get home from the Mercy, then get out to Glen Waverley.
I made it home fairly quickly (15 minutes), but by the time I’d swapped cars I still had only 25 minutes to get to GW. I jumped on the Eastern Freeway because our other car is one we’ve borrowed from Julie’s grandparents, and since it doesn’t have an e-tag, I didn’t want it to charge them for the trip. Anyway, I noticed the fuel gauge was low, but since it’s a similar car to my old one, I knew the fuel light would come on when things were desperate.
The fuel light never came on, but the car ran out of petrol halfway down the Eastern.
In fact, about 1 and a half kilometres from Burke Rd. to be precise. In my rush, I had forgotten to pick up my mobile phone, but thankfully I did pick my hat in case the ceremony was outside. Did I mention it was a 36 degree day? It was a 36 degree day. Wow.
So I made it to Burke Road after bush-bashing my way through the undergrowth (there are fences that prevent you walking along the freeway), and had to decide which direction to go up Burke Road. Being a fairly major road, I thought there’d be little issues either way, but I chose left. Turns out either way wouldn’t have yielded a result, but left took me past about 5 kilometres of residential area. Not even a phone box. I finally made it to East Ivanhoe shops, and the first public phone. I rang Julie. We got it sorted out. Needless to say, I missed the graduation.
Then we had inspiral and went to bed. Next day arrives.
Shane and Em’s wedding was at St. Judes at 1:30, so we jump on the tram (at least it can’t run out of petrol…) at about 1:10, and make it there on time. As we enter the church, we see the massive storm cloud approaching. The storm hits not long after the service begins. In fact, the first peal of thunder is heard during the silence following the minister saying “If anyone knows any reason why this man and this woman should not be wed, speak now or forever remain silent.” Hilarious. Anyway, we had a wonderful time catching up with old Whitley friends and showing Chelsea off to them. We come up our street after the massive rainstorm to find that it had flooded massively, washing away much of the nature strip, but the real shock comes when we get inside and realise that Cassie is gone. There’s a hole under the gate that we block with a wooden board, but she’s obviously been so panicked by the storm, she’s moved the chair holding the wooden board in place.
Now Cassie hates thunderstorms; she freaks out completely and is inconsolable. We realise that not only is she gone, but potentially, she’s been gone for over three hours. If she escaped at the beginning of the thunderstorm, she could be absolutely anywhere by now.
Every time she’s escaped before, we’ve found her right outside the gate, or nearby. This time, however, she’s nowhere to be seen. We scour the streets and laneways. After we’ve circled around on foot for a while, we decide to go in the car and on the bike in different directions. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. She could literally be anywhere by now – in any direction, and after looking for an hour, she has about a 4 hour headstart on us.
I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so gutted as I did then. I’ve been fortunate enough not to lose anyone close to me, but I imagine it must feel something like this. The worst part was not knowing – if she was ok, where she’d gone, if she’d ever come back. Your mind goes over the worst case scenarios – she’s hurt, she’s stolen, she’s dead…and she’s so very much a part of the family. I was utterly convinced we would never see her again.
Then, as I ride down Lygon St after over an hour of searching, I spot her. Tied up outside the newsagent with a piece of string, and Julie and Chelsea had just seen her too. The guy explains that she came into the newsagent just as the storm started, and was sniffing around for while before he realised her owner wasn’t there, and so he tied her up assuming we’d come past sometime. She had made it across Lygon St unscathed. As far down as I’d felt just seconds ago, I was now equally up – completely elated. I still can’t believe how lucky we were to find her, or have her found. The odds must be unthinkable.
The storm, meanwhile, had dumped a massive amount of water. Aside from the flood in our street, the place at Merri Creek where I go to pray every morning was massively affected; in fact, so much water went down that area that the whole landscape is irrevocably changed. The water level rose by as much as 6 feet; in fact, in the place I would normally sit, it would have been more than a foot above my head. The step on which I would normally sit has been washed away, and in the place of the bank there is a whole lot of new stones, pebbles and sand. I even found nine golf balls washed up at the water’s edge when I went there this morning.
So all up, a fairly eventful few days, and those were just the drama-packed moments. Looking forward to a few quiet ones now.