*UPDATE: Reports started surfacing after I posted this that she is believed to be safe. Which is a huge relief. I thought about taking this post down but honestly, the thoughts and sentiments here are bigger than this one story and things like this will most certainly happen again. I feel there is an important message here. xo
For the few that do not know, Abby Sunderland is a 16-year-old junior in high school attempting to be the youngest person to sail solo around the globe. Right now a rescue operation is underway to find her in the middle of the Indian Ocean because she set two of her emergency beacons off last night.
No one knows if she is alive or not.
I’m not really here to comment on her story, though…I am going to talk about the reaction to it and the massive backlash that is hitting her family right now.
Abby seems like an AMAZING young woman. Very skilled and very passionate. For me personally, as a mother who has lost a child, I know I could never sign off on my 16-year-old sailing solo around the world, no matter how passionate and skilled they were. I could not, simply could not take that risk when I have already had so much taken from me already.
But that is ME.
And I am the first to admit that like MANY who are knee-jerk reacting to this story without knowing anything about her, her qualifications or her history, I don’t know nearly enough about the situation to comment on her story adequately.
I am also not her parents.
But I don’t need to be her parent to empathize from one parent to the other about the basic worry of the welfare of your child. No matter what my own choices would be.
I am sure they are extremely worried right now.
As I went around reading different articles, the comments were pretty horrifying.
Everyone seemed to want two things: The parents to be held accountable and to know how much the rescue effort would cost and who will pay for it? (Said in much, MUCH harsher, ugly lingo as is wont to happen on the Internet, of course.)
Even if they were wishing Abby well and safe it almost seemed to be an after thought.
Look, this is an unusual situation and I know many are bewildered, upset and are thinking and voicing their opinions about her parents and this venture and also about all the other people who seem to do risky things only to have other people put their own lives at risk to go bail them out and the money involved. (These, especially the latter, have valid points to them. Especially when others are put at risk to rescue .)
BUT NOW IS NOT REALLY THE TIME FOR THAT.
Let’s get her home safe. See what the situation is and stop hurling all this horrible, ugly crap at a family who is trying to see if their loved one is alive or dead.
This story hit me hard.
I thought of all the hell I went through when we lost Matthew…and how it would feel to try and cope with that along with hatred and ugliness from so many.
My empathy is one that goes above blame. It’s base and almost automatic from one parent who has lost a child to others who are fearing for theirs.
I ache for them.
Because I can tell you, if something has happened to her?
Those parents will be in a much worse hell than most can imagine and they will have to live with it and play and replay and regret and hurt and have guilt like no others. And it will not just be the hell in their own heads…as I have seen today the weight and judgment of the world will crash down and do its best to pulverize them into the earth out of their own sense of outrage.
It seems to happen again, and again when tragic situations happen. The blame. The anger. The self-righteous judging and hateful comments hurled on grieving and worried people that are in the midst of crises.
I can see why people are upset that they allowed her to try this but I also feel strongly that until they know the fate of their girl people should just back the hell off already.
Whether I, or anyone, approves of what they allowed or not.
It’s just the decent thing to do.
I truly hope she is ok.