Day 23: Agawa, ON to White River, ON — two perspectives

Frances Daniel
5:22 a.m. I woke up, my brain foggy. It took my brain a few seconds to re-register that my heart was worried about something. As soon as it hit me that Daniel hasn’t contacted me for almost a day, I hurriedly checked the laptop to see if there is anything from him. The hypnotic experience of it all took away the tiny bit of energy I had, and I immediately drifted back to sleep afterwards.
6:09 a.m. The phone rings. As if a reflex, my body jolted forward and hurriedly picked up the phone. “Hi, Frances, I hope I didn’t wake you up.” It was Chantal, Daniel’s mother. We spoke for a bit, and she informed me that Daniel’s father got a phone call from Batchawanay Bay last night, around midnight. We couldn’t call the number back — it seemed like it was a call from a public phone. Batchawana Bay was several kilometers away from Agawa Bay, and we were both relieved that this might have been from Daniel. We both agreed that I should call the Ontario Police and let them know of the situation.
6:25 a.m. I call the Ontario Police, and it was a rather eerie experience having to describe my last communication with Daniel, his physical traits, what he was wearing. I know deep within my heart that all of it wasn’t necessary; that he was doing well, that he is tucked and safe, even if he was in the middle of nowhere. Daniel, Daniel, I said out loud after I hang the phone, please promise me you’ll never let me go through this experience again!
6:35 a.m. I sat on the bed and closed my eyes for a while. I imagined Daniel telling me with his signature phrase, “everything’s gonna be alright.” Everything’s gonna be alright.
7:49 a.m. I stared at the telephone. Ring, please, ring.
8:32 a.m. I tried to get back to sleep. At that point, I felt a certain numbness creeping up my body. I had feared too much, and at that moment, I didn’t feel like there was anything else I could do.
9:01 a.m. I dozed off. The paralysis that captured my body brought me into a zone of nothingness, a looping vacuum that held me by the heart.
9:32:23 a.m. The phone rings.
9:32:24 a.m. I dash to the phone, expecting a cold voice.
9:32:25 a.m. A voice that was a little less than a squeak came out of my mouth: “hello?”
9:32:26 a.m. “Baby?”
9:32:27 a.m. I blinked. Did I really hear what I just heard?
9:32:28 a.m. “Baby?” The voice on the other line said once more.
9:32:29 a.m. I felt my body floating. My knees were weak, my heart felt like it was melting, my hands wanted to let go of the telephone.
9:32:30 a.m. “Oh my god,” I whispered. It’s you, it’s really you, I silently uttered.
9:32:31 a.m. Daniel explained what happened, but my mind was just floating somewhere else. It was such a surreal feeling — I felt like I was being released from some kind of toxic prison that kept me from breathing consciousness in. Moment after moment, hearing Daniel utter word after word on the other side of the line made me slowly regain my psychological balance back. I did not understand everything he said, I was just simply elated at the fact that he was alive and breathing. And that I am about to see him soon.
12:44 p.m. We had agreed that we will meet at the motel I was staying should he be able to arrive in Wawa before 3 pm. Otherwise, we will meet at the bus station.
3:01 p.m. I was on my way to the bus station. I heard someone walking up the stairs. I turned around and there he was — my dashing prince who, despite having been trapped in the wilderness of nowhere Ontario, still looked as beautiful as ever. And I was not able to recall happier moment like that in my life, a moment when I appreciated his presence in my life more than ever.
7:02 a.m. I opened my eyes for a bit. I found myself on the beach, tightly tucked in a sleeping bag. I was confused, and my tired mind and body didn’t have any energy at all to even allow me to move my eyeballs.
9:09 a.m. I woke up and realized that I have just been out of contact for almost a day. I jumped out of the sleeping bag, and found beside me the trailer of the campers who helped me last night. They gave me food to eat for breakfast, and I went right away to the camp office to call Frances, who must be so sick worried about me.
9:32 a.m. I dial her number at the motel, incredibly relieved at the sound of a phone ringing.
9:32:23 a.m. She picks up.
9:32:25 a.m. “Baby?” I said, with a twinge of guilt inside me. I expected her to break down at some point. Instead, she silently listened to my story, gently responding here and there. I could hear in her voice how worried she was, though. She then told me that she called the police to look for me — Wow, I said to myself. It was at that point when I truly understood that my whole family must have been incredibly anxious about my situation.
9:40 a.m. I take a sip of coffee, and set off for Wawa, where she was. People kept on stopping me, telling me that the highway was closed. But I was determined to cross that construction area.
1:40 p.m. I arrived at the point where the highway was closed. There really was no space to pass through on the side — it was a construction point 20 feet deep, which covered the entire street. So I took my bike, put it on my shoulder, and went down the hole. The workers were all looking at me, appearing confused, perhaps not knowing if they should intervene or not. One of them simply pointed where I should go on my way up.
3:01 p.m. I finally arrived at Wawa, where I finally got reunited with my girlfriend. It was such a consoling moment, seeing her look so reassured made me feel so happy to be alive. We had lunch at Subway, and I then set off for our destination for the night: White River, ON.
The wind was in my direction, and I felt like I was simply cruising along. I arrived an hour earlier than I expected, and I arrived as Frances was crossing the highway, just in time for her to take a photo of me with the colors of the sunset perfectly tinting the sky.Despite all the craziness both of us went through, we were still able to make it to our destination, to be on schedule. It is amazing how much one person can do in a day, and how much one day can mean to someone. When you’re cycling for a cause, you cannot afford to lose a day — there is always a destination, and that destination has to be reached no matter what.
Anxiously waiting for that phone call

Anxiously waiting for that phone call

Triumphantly crossing over that 20-foot construction hole that started the craziness that was yesterday and today

Triumphantly crossing over that 20-foot construction hole that started the craziness that was yesterday and today

Reunited and it feels so good

Reunited and it feels so good

Triumphantly arriving in White River, ON

Arrived just in time at White River, ON

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One thought on “Day 23: Agawa, ON to White River, ON — two perspectives

  1. I will always remember those hours wondering if you were OK, trying to reassure Frances, trying to sleep, convincing myself that you had found a way to keep warm, to eat and to survive. I was so relieved when Francois, your father, told me that morning about the phone call at midnight. That call meant you were alive and you would find a way to get our messages telling you where Frances was waiting. At 9:40 the call came, not from the police, but from Frances. You were fine, on your way to join her at Wawa. Relieved and happy we asked Dan to buy a GPS system so we could track him if needed. They were on scedule and happy, I got up to get my next patient and even if I was late on my scedule I was happy and smiling. Love Chantal (MOM)

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