I just now finished up posting all of my reviews for the movies we watched at Ebertfest this year. It was a splendid group of films, as per usual. Lots of things I hadn’t seen this time around, which is always fun. I was shocked I hadn’t ever seen Hair or Being There, but I hadn’t. I loved the documentaries as well, particularly Mind/Game about Chamique Holdsclaw’s struggle with mental illness. She was eloquent and brave and open. I also really enjoyed Elle, disturbing and confounding as it was, and The Handmaiden. The storytelling in The Handmaiden was smart and creative. It was, as I said, a fantastic experience once again… except…
For a brief terrible time, day four, midafternoon, our little Riley went missing. We were on a break from the festival, searching for a little chocolate to sate the sweet tooth, and in that vein had wandered into Cafe Kopi (our favorite coffee spot downtown). We’d chosen a couple of small bars and also a little snack pack of some meats and cheeses when K got a text from our lawn guy. He’d left the gate open, thinking the dogs couldn’t get out to the backyard, and Riley had run out. We threw our goods back into the case at Kopi, literally, and ran toward the Jeep. We didn’t even, right away anyway, tell Mom, who was inside the theater, or our friend Ann, also inside the theater, that we were leaving, we just left. I drove too fast and sort of like a maniac to get home. K’s daughter had been called by our lawn guy as well because he hadn’t been able to get ahold of K right way. She was on her way to our house at the same time we were, though slightly ahead of us. She hadn’t made it to our house yet when she spotted Riley running down a street fairly near our home. She stopped her car in the middle of the road, jumped out, and called to Riley, sitting down on the side of the road to try and be calm for Riley. Riley though, given her poor eyesight and the panic she was probably feeling at the time, ran the other direction. Mary, K’s daughter, called K, who I dropped off, and K started chasing. She also spotted Riley, on another street, way far way and up head. She called to Riley, but at just that moment our gardener drove past K and we think Riley saw him (who she was afraid of) and continued to run. K chased her on foot for a bit, not seeing her anymore, but circling around. K eventually came back to the house and got on her bike so she could be faster and cover more ground. Mary walked around as well, in other areas, and this whole time I drove around our neighborhood, all the places we walk (which are many). We talked to everyone we passed, asking if people had seen her. Some had and pointed us in one direction or another, others hadn’t. It was terrifying and heart-breaking. We cried a lot, though we were trying not to, trying to stay focused, trying to keep on track. My Mom, who we’d contacted, left the theater and took an Uber to our house. Once she got there she stood out front, with the garage door open, just in case Riley came back.
Four hours this went on. Four hours of looking and not finding her, of asking people, of circling and driving and riding and walking. At one point we took Weston out thinking if Riley heard or saw him she would come to him, but he eventually got too tired and we had to take him home. I walked and ran and yelled and asked and drove and asked and drove. K walked and rode her bike and eventually got in Mary’s car with her and they drove around and around. Mary walked and ran and drove. My Mom paced in front of our house, showing anyone who walked past Riley’s photo and asked about her. Weston fretted in the house knowing something was wrong, probably wondering where his little sister was.
We missed a film at the festival. We didn’t care.
Finally, four hours later, I was driving along a street I’d been up and down many times, when a man, who I’d stopped and asked about Riley earlier, waved me down. He said he’d just seen her running West. I knew that was toward our house. At the same time, I got a text, but I didn’t check it because I was then trying to get home to see if she was around there anywhere. I pulled up toward our house and my Mom looked at me and gave the biggest smile, pantomiming that Riley was there, that she’d shown back up.
Relief. Total relief.
K and Mary showed up shortly after and we were all reunited. Other than being really thirsty Riley acted totally normal. She lay down of course because, well, she had been running pretty much non-stop for four hours, but she was fine. Totally fine.
As I said, relief. Your mind tries not to go to all the scary dark places it could during these times… but they are there, inside of you, haunting you throughout. It’s a huge amount of stress.
We made sure Riley was fine, that the gate was locked, that she had sufficient cuddles, and we then took off, back to Ebertfest. We’d been willing to miss the rest of it if we’d had to if we didn’t find her, but since we did, we didn’t want to miss any more than we had. We had that luxury. Life was back to normal. We were lucky. Riley was lucky.
Life throws things at you like a missing dog, a missed film at Ebertfest because of it, the anxiety of it all followed by the elation. In a nutshell, it’s a rollercoaster.
I appreciate life so much, not just because of this incident, but I would include this incident as a factor. You never know what’s going to happen so hug your people, tell them you love them, hug your pets, tell them you love them, look at the sky and the trees and feel the wind in your face. There’s beauty and love and light everywhere.
Riley came home. And we’ll just get Pleasantville, the movie we missed at Ebertfest, from the library.