That first second, the moment when you realize you've missed the plane, is only the beginning. It is merely the moment of impact. After the initial punch, the thwack between the eyes that arrives with the delivery of the news that you have now moved from going somewhere to heading absolutely nowhere, comes the main event.
Mini explosions ignite with a flicker and then "to do" lists combust in your head. Bang goes the airport pickup, bang goes the hotel booking, kaboom, there goes those fancy dinner reservations, and you can kiss those online tickets to the show you were hoping to see goodbye.
And then the real pain stabs you in the depths of your stomach - you need to make the phone call. The phone call that begins with "I've missed my flight".
G missed his flight.
We had plans. Plans for fancy dinners, hotel rooms and tickets to a show. We also had no plans, the no plans that every parent dreams of, maybe we'll catch a movie, maybe we'll go for a walk, maybe we'll do stuff. Just stuff. Instead of that, I drove to pick up the little travelers from Granny's house and waited for the next lot of flight details.
Granny changed her plans. My sister changed her plans. People wanted to know why and how. I told the same story again and again. He was in the lounge, there was no boarding call, he was talking with friends. He was flying a different route than usual, a different carrier. He just did.
And then we drove back to Adelaide. I was tired, it was cold. We visited the most disgusting toilet block and all four travelers needed to go, and then it started to rain.
I'm not meant to be here, I'm meant to be in a nice hotel with my husband.
After we'd been on the freeway for about twenty minutes, enough time to gain momentum and feel like we were finally closer to our beds, we saw the flashing lights, lots of flashing lights. The policeman told us we were going to have to turn around and head in the opposite direction, he reeled off the names of a smattering of towns, and when I looked confused he said "just follow the traffic love". Our four hour drive had just become a five and a half hour drive.
And just as I was about to moan to the children about how this just wasn't my week, a little dose of guilt dropped into my conscience. The lights ahead. Was that an ambulance? A fire truck? Why were there so many police? What had we escaped?
I was going to see my husband tomorrow.
When we pulled up outside of the airport this morning G raced towards the car, the little travellers were squealing and people who were lined up for taxis turned their heads in our direction to try and understand the commotion. The travellers crawled all over his body and told the most important stories first "I hand fed a possum". "I did jobs and saved for an iPod". "I can go to the toilet at Granny's house all by myself". "Look how frizzy my hair is, I had it braided".
And then, we were a family together again. Just like that. Normality restored, the numbers added up, we were even again. A table for six.
There was a breakfast, a drive, a trip to the shops. Little hands slid comfortably into big hands as roads were crossed. Together again.
"Did you miss us Dad?" asked the fourth little traveler.
"I did mate, I might have even cried, just a little bit, when the plane came down to land. It's been a long couple of days".
"When I was at Granny's house, I think I missed you more than Mum because you were further away"
"Thanks mate" G said while giving me a wink.
The news reader told me it was a six car collision. The lights, the ambulance, the firetrucks, they couldn't help everyone - someone didn't make it home. In a split second, a family changed last night, plans cancelled, life never to be the same.
The variance of each families moment of impact. How was my week? Not too bad, all things considered.