One Last “I Love You”

Trish Ford, guest writer

“H-h-h-e-l-l-o, M-m-m-y n-a-m-m-e is C-c-c-h-r-i-s and t-t-h-i-s is m-m-m-y s-s-t-o-r-y”
* * *
Serenity. The feeling I get as my hand effortlessly floats in the wind as if there are invisible waves that only my senses can detect. The smell of the river raging below me seemed to consume the air I was breathing. Peace engulfed my surroundings as I stared off into the distance. For a moment, time stood still.
An oncoming car hit us head on and sent us plunging off the bridge into the sun-touched golden waves of death. A split second before our automobile hit the water, my father looked back at me with a disheartened expression masked with a soft smile to assure me everything was going to be okay. Slowly, we began to sink into the abyss of darkness. My father had been knocked unconscious from impact, but my mother managed to break loose and come to my rescue. She pushed me out of my window and tugged at my unconscious father until she could tug no more.
Using my last few breaths, I pushed to the surface. My mother wasn’t far behind. With each tread of water back to the shore, I was reminded of the fact that I would never see my father again. To this day, I still believe it was only by the grace of God that I made it back to the shore alive.
The following evening, I woke up in a hospital bed with no recollection of the past 17 hours. I felt the warm comfort of my mother’s hand on my arm.
“Sweat heart,” My mother began softly.
“Because of all the water you took on and the pressure that suffocated your brain, it caused you to develop a speech impediment known as a stutter.”
While coping with this newly developed speech impediment was achingly arduous, it would soon become only a small fraction of the pain that had yet to enter my life. And what I didn’t know at this time was that while I was unconscious, my mother too had been examined for any injuries. Although the doctors found no serious injuries, what they did find was an incurable disease called lupus . Slowly, my mother began to deteriorate from the inside. She showed no signs of sickness, only a face of courage that was able to get me through my hardest days.
Only a few months had passed since the day my father and a part of myself had died. My mother decided that it would be good for me to receive therapeutic help to deal with the trauma. Unknown to me, however, during each therapy session my mother also had her hospital visits. She began taking medicine that made her very nauseated which led her sickness to become more evident. But even so, she managed to convince me that it was just a common cold of sorts.
I truly did enjoy going to my therapy sessions. With each visit I was able to rediscover myself and express my emotions in ways I had done. One of those new expressions was called poetry. Finally, I had discovered an escape that allowed me to release my emotions without struggling to speak. My mother found comfort in reading my poems and soon became my most dedicated supporter.
As life went on, new inventions began to revolutionize our small town of Newport, New York. The local grocery stores became self-serving for the first time ever. Another apparatus that soon after scattered amidst our town was street lights. These lights helped to keep order on the streets and reduce the amount of reoccurring automobile accidents. My mother had always appreciated these beneficial changes in our society, but also believed the government often spent our hard earned tax money on pointless expansions.
Since the passing of my father, my mother and I were not bringing in nearly as much money that once supported our fairly wealthy lifestyle. We slowly had to down size in our possessions in order to stay out of debt. My father did, however, set aside a sum of money that he called a trust fund for any emergencies that may come about.
This was also around the time that the RMS Titanic was finally completed and expected to set sail on April 10, 1912. What a memorable and historic day it would be for the biggest cruise ship to set sail across the Atlantic! My father had an obsession with this boat before his death. He would always say how one day he would take me and my mother to cruise aboard the titanic. This dream still remained stagnant in my mind since the day he took his last breath.
The bright rays of sunlight that pierced through the fog flooded in my bedroom window the morning of April 5, 1912. Soon after my eyes were cracked open, my mother bursted into my room looking as though she might explode with good news.
“Sweet heart!! You will never believe what we are about to do!”
“What is it, Mother?”
“Tickets!! I bought us both tickets for the RMS Titanic! I wanted to honor your father by fulfilling his dream of sailing aboard the Titanic”.
There was a bitter sweet feeling that turned in my stomach as I looked up at my ceiling. This was something my father had been obsessing over, yet I could not stop thinking about my fear of water. After much contemplation, I decided that fulfilling my father’s dream gave me enough strength to overcome my fear. As I finished packing my suitcase with my fanciest clothes, I walked over to my dresser where laid a framed photo of my father and I. I gently laid the photo on top of my clothing, but just before closing my bag for the long journey ahead, I ran my finger across the heroic figure that now only lived in my memories and whispered this is for you, Papa.
The special morning had finally arrived where we would travel to Southampton, New York and board the RMS Titanic. After traveling for what seemed like eternity, we finally reached Southampton. The streets were overflowing with people boarding the ship, as well as those who just wanted to catch a glimpse of the magnificent sight. We rounded the bend and just as the others before us, we were left in awe. That was the biggest boat mama and I had ever seen. As we approached the ship, a strange feeling came over me that caused my stomach to turn. It was almost as if right as I stepped on the ship, I was saying goodbye; to what I had no idea, at least not yet.
We had successfully made it aboard the great ship and walked to the side of the deck where families waved to their loved ones as if they would never see them again. The horn had sounded, and we set sail. As the ship glided across the open water, my mother and I reminisced over our most special memories of my father. In no time at all, the sun began to set on the horizon. As the sunset reached its peak, my mother said aloud “What a great God we have that would take the time to paint us a new picture in the sky each night.”
So far, this had been the best experience of my life. Great food, great music, beautiful scenery; and best of all, no one judged me for my stutter. One afternoon, however, it was colder than usual. Mother and I had been sitting on the deck each night star gazing, but tonight felt different. All of the sudden, we felt a jerk and a excruciatingly loud screech rang in our ears. With a wave of panic we bolted to the side of the boat to see what had happened. Icebergs. In the darkness of the night we had managed to hit one of these large pieces of ice. Panic broke out.
“Passengers, the ship is going down. Please, in a calm manner make your way to the nearest lifeboat.”
We pushed through the crowd to reach our only chance of life. There are no words to describe the horrors that I witnessed during this chaotic event. Many people threw them self off the deck for an easy and painless death. One man later said, “Striking the water was like a thousand knives being driven into one’s body. The temperature was 28 degrees, four degrees below freezing” (Charles Lightoller). Time was running out as we neared the life boats that were filling up by the second. At full capacity, the Titanic fit 2,222 passengers, but their were only enough life jackets and lifeboats for half the total population. Once we reached the lifeboat my mother knelt down and pulled me in close.
“Christopher darling, I am very sick and I won’t be around much longer so I need you to get on that lifeboat and never look back. You hear me? Never look back.”
Without a moment to react, a man grabbed me and threw me on the last lifeboat. I turned and lunged to the back of the boat to try and convince her otherwise. My mother grabbed my hand, looked into my tear-fogged eyes, and shared one last ‘I love you.’
Works Cited and Bibliography
Ballard, Robert D., and Rick Archbold. The Discovery of the Titanic: with Rick Archbold ; Illustrations of the Titanic by Ken Marschall. Hodder and Stoughton, 1987. Print.
Benson, Sonia, et al. “Titanic Disaster.”UXL Encyclopedia of U.S. History, vol. 8, UXL, 2009, pp. 1561-1564. Student Resources in Context, Web. 5 Apr. 2017. Staff. “Titanic.” A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.
Wilson, Andrew. Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived. New York: Atria, 2013. Print.
1912 Was a Year for Many Significant Events.” 1912 Was a Year for Many Significant Events – Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph, 5 Feb. 2012, Ueb. DOA.