I've had the Navy hymn on my brain during the past few days. On Friday, two teenage boys from South Florida headed out to fish. They have yet to return home. Lots of people have been doing lots of searching, but the field is vast.
Their boat has been found much further north, but no one knows how many life jackets were on board. Could the boys still be alive?
I hold out hope. I think of the South Florida grandmother, Tillie Tooter, who went to pick her relative up from the airport and both she and her car vanished for days. She was forced off the road and over the edge of I 595, where her car landed on the tops of trees below. She caught dew in her socks and in her steering wheel cover while trapped in the car in the sweltering heat.
I know that the boys face larger odds, as the ocean is even more harsh. I hope they have water.
There's a Yeti cooler that's missing. A trainer at my gym says it's a high-end cooler--indestructible and unsinkable. Maybe they're clinging to it. Maybe there was water inside. Maybe a sandwich or two. But they can go without food. I don't keep my sunscreen in a cooler, but I hope they have sunscreen.
My short story class has been reading Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat." That naturalistic depiction of the ocean seems particularly timely right now.
Many of my colleagues at work are aghast that two fourteen year old boys would be allowed to go out fishing all alone. Even with what has happened, I still approve. I suspect that those boys are fairly well-equipped to handle what's happened to them, since they've been on boats since they were very young.
Ordinarily the ocean seems a safer place than land. Then an incident like this reminds us of the power of the sea.
I have no boat and no plane. I can't join the search in any meaningful way. And so I fall back on what residents of the shore have always done: I hope and pray and sing the old songs to calm the anxiety.
Here's a beautiful rendition of the first verse of the Navy hymn, if you, too, could use some calm.
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