It was February of 1999. I was 27. At the time I was working at a pub downtown, bartending. I worked every Saturday with my best friends, Tina and George. I was dating Sam(antha).
I got a call, like so many I had received before. It was my baby sister. It was the night of the snowball dance, which in case you don’t know what that is, its like the homecoming dance except without the football game, and its winter which in these parts of the country means it is COLD. For a sophomore in high school who is highly social, its a big deal. There are hair appointments, nails to ‘get did’, flowers, you get the picture. It really is a whole day affair getting ready for a big night like this.
So baby sis called and said that mom was ‘out of it’ which is code for she is at the very beginning of a binge and that would render her totally unavailable for mom duties. Her dad was out of town on a work trip, and he was not available. She had a thousand things to do, and didn’t want her night to be ruined. “Can you come?” she asked. (Adrenaline kicks into high gear here)
Shit shit shit. This was not a new question to me. I have been here before, and in the past have been able to have jobs where getting the day off was not a problem. But this day – there was no one I could get a hold of to cover my shift. I tried and tried for over an hour. Finally, Sam offered to go on my behalf. The comic relief here is really lost – and is best shown through actually seeing the people that my baby sis and my former partner are. Having a girly day fest could not be a more foreign concept to Sam. She is not the most externally feminine person I know. (I still think of this request that I made of her, and just believe that she is one of the most amazing humans I know.)
The day really is a flurry blurry haze for me. Moms husband was called home, errands were run, I was managing the initial needs from behind the bar, 25 miles away. Cassie got off to the dance, for the time being, everything seemed alright. The next late morning I got the call that would change my life. It was the call I hoped would never come. “Had I heard from my mom?” It was my dad and step-mom calling.
The pieces and parts of the story of what had happened would rapidly start coming together. They had to, we had to call the police. We knew the drill. Call the police, tell them she is missing, and then wait to file the official missing persons report 48 long, seemingly endless hours later. We would start looking right away, in all the usual places. But this time was just SO DIFFERENT. In so many ways.
First, she had a breakdown over a humongous big deal of a day for one of her kids.
Second, she showed up at my dad and step-moms house. This had never happened, and was only discussed so that we knew what it meant. She had established with her therapist (and my dad and step mom) that if she ever felt that her life were in grave danger, she could go to my dad and step-moms home, as a safe haven of sorts, and would be welcome anytime of day or night, no questions asked.
The doorbell rang at just passed 2 in the morning.