Saturday, March 13, 2010
When my kids were away at camp last summer we couldn't call them, but there were a few other ways that we knew they were okay. There were about one hundred photos of the campers put up on the camp website each day for parents to search through who were desperate to look for their kids. I'd find them and, unfortunately, I'd usually get more alarmed from the pictures. Daughter, in her second week, was still hanging out with the only girl she knew when she left, and Bar Mitzvahzilla always seemed to be alone and flat up against a wall. There were my cheery letters to them, their desperate letters to me, and there were emails we could send, for a fee.
But when my mother and stepfather disappeared for four weeks onto a cruise ship setting off for South America, there was none of this. No contact at all. A big ship full of elderly passengers carting suitcases full of medications and not a peep.
And why, instead, shouldn't this be just like my kids' camp website? A security photo of my mother and stepfather leaving their room each day, my mother haranguing my stepfather as he locked the door of their room, would have given me plenty of assurance that they, indeed, were well. On the deck there could be live video feeds of shuffle board games, of bingo parties, of beret-wearing World War II vets all jauntily out for a stroll around the deck. Or simpler still, video of them rushing the dining room for the early dinner, day after day after day. Or of the sleepy ship come 8:00 PM.
Three weeks into her cruise, the earthquake hit Chile and tsunamis headed out over the Pacific ocean, and then I had to start worrying even more. Where was the ship exactly? Was it sitting at anchor in the middle of the Pacific, waiting for one of those tsunami waves to hit and crack it in half? Was this about to turn into the Poseiden Adventure, or the Titanic, the passengers clawing their way to air pockets, or making their way to tiny lifeboats?