We've watched this tragedy unfold daily since January 13th and today two more bodies were recovered from inside the cruise ship. Many posts and news reports have gone over the why's, the how's, and the story of Captain Francesco Schettino and his ill-fated "fall" in to a lifeboat.
Years ago when the movie TITANTIC made movie history for James Cameron, 14 year olds everywhere couldn't get enough of the song ""My Heart Will Go On", sung by Celine Dion. The "romance" of Jack Dawson letting himself go from the piece of wood Rose was sprawled on and dying so she could live was the center of the movie. It pricked a nerve with me and I had a long, heartfelt talk with my best girlfriend at the time.
I asked her, "if you were on a sinking cruise ship, would you go in a lifeboat and leave (husband's name here) behind on the ship, knowing he would die?" We both had two children under the age of five at the time. We really batted this dilemma around. She reasoned in the end that she'd go in the lifeboat because she had children to raise. And that's the reason "women and children" were always put first for lifeboats or other emergency procedures in life. The preservation of the race. For myself, I dithered back and forth. I said I couldn't imagine floating away in a lifeboat and watching my husband become a pinpoint image on a sinking deck, but neither could I imagine dying with him and leaving our children behind.
Fast forward to 2003 and we took a cruise ourselves in the Caribbean. This cruise line was responsible and held the life jacket/life boat drill before leaving port in Florida. We lined up on our deck with a couple hundred other people wearing orange lifejackets. It was a long way down to the water and I couldn't help noticing how small the lifeboats appeared, given they were telling us they'd hold up to 25 people each. Women around me were glancing at each other as the employees gave us intructions on how to enter, be seated, stay calm, etc. I realized we were all nervous and we hadn't even left port. I slipped my hand in to my husbands' and got a reassuring squeeze. He has no fear of water, loves the ocean, and is adventurous. I'm afraid of water, having almost drowned in a quarry at 15 years of age, have a healthy respect for the ocean's ability to reign down terror on boats, and am adventurous when the odds are on my side.
That night in our cabin, I told him about my conversation years before with my friend. And I told him I'd realized, standing on that deck sweating buckets in a life jacket, that I'd never be able to get in one without him so he'd better not decide to be the hero if something happened on our cruise. Our children have named guardians in our wills and would be well taken care of!
It's true. I wasn't being a hero myself, I just realized in the reality of the moment that I could never leave my husband behind. And I'm sure of the 18 people still missing and the bodies of the people that've been recovered over the past 10 days, they likely couldn't leave their loved ones behind either.
And I can categorically say that falling in to one of those lifeboats, even with the ship tipped over on it's side, would be a circus act of derring-do comparing to falling off the ship and in to the ocean, given the same trajectory.
May all the lost rest in peace, and may the survivors grab their second chance at life and life it to the fullest.