merchant mariner families

...a highly unusual, sometimes maddening,
but mostly comical way of life.

October 13, 2015

be safe...

  I say those words to my husband every time I drop him off at the airport when he heads back to sea.  It's the last thing I say as he walks through the terminal doors.  

And I say them every time we get off the phone while he's working--I even end my e mails and texts to him with those two words...always.  

     Over the past twelve years of our relationship, it's become more important to me than saying 'I love you.' It's much like a talisman, making me feel as if I have some sort of control over what occurs to him out to sea if only I remember to say that all important phrase. It's become so ridiculous, I've even called him back if I thought he didn't hear my request. Silly. 

'Be safe' means everything to me...stay away from the side rails, watch all of the lines, don't walk in front of the cars you're loading, steer clear of bad weather, wear your safety gear, blah, blah, blah.  Honestly, there are times I'm surprised I can hang up the phone with him and continue on normally with all of the crap buzzing around in my head.  


     So when news of the El Faro hit, the first thing I wanted to do was fly out to L.A., march my husband off the ship, and bring him home where he would instantly be swaddled in bubble wrap and tucked away in a closet for safe-keeping.    

      But instead, I spent my time rather unproductively, dipping my toe intermittently into the pool of insanity imagining it was my husband out there lost at sea, trapped in the ship as it sank, or even the poor, lifeless soul the Coast Guard found in a survival suit.  'How lucky am I?' floated in and out of my mind every day as I watched more and more coverage, but 'This could've been him' hammered at my head incessantly and so much louder. So after finally being able to hear Beady's voice, I was instantly relieved, glad to give up the pessimism that had settled on my soul for a moment.  A false sense of security crept in as we continued to speak and I began to think that this sort of thing couldn't happen to my mariner, not to my husband...but after we hung up, I knew that of course it could. My husband isn't special, he's not immune to this type of tragedy, and he's certainly not invincible. This absolutely could've been him and the realization of that, the finality it comes with, just sucks.

    Unfortunately, ships sink all over the world, the tragedy off Crooked Island was not an anomaly.  And bad weather is a certainty for Beady and the crew he ships out with, as it is with every mariner across this globe. Mother Nature will never be ignored just as surely as that new I Pad your neighbor ordered yesterday will eventually reach its destination. This is the way of the shipping world, an industry that delivers 90% of what you and I want and consume. Time surely marches on, but it seems to do so quite obnoxiously where an unforgiving sea is concerned. 

       I don't know what happened on that ship, I'm not sure we ever will, but I do know this.  There were 33 fantastically important people aboard that vessel, people who were loved, missed, and worried over pretty constantly--and I'm guessing each of their families must have had their own version of 'be safe.' I'd like to think those words actually worked in their own way and because of that, there were little mercies that occurred throughout the El Faro and in those waters we will never know about.  

      So I'll keep saying 'be safe' to my husband when he heads out to sea for work, when I finish up with him on the phone, or when I send off a quick e mail during the week to just check in. I want him to know he's loved, I want him to know he's cherished, I want him to know that he means the world to me. But more importantly, having watched this tragedy unfold in our maritime community for the last few weeks, I just want him to come back home.  And I think that's all I've ever really meant when I said those two words...please come back to me.          

Copyright 2015 Callie's Mariner     



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