15 November, 2008
The night shifts were the most nerve racking. We agreed on wearing lifelines while out on deck. Something you forgot to do over and over again.
During the day, when you would wander forward to fix a frozen cleat or adjust a line that was caught, I’d wait anxiously at the helm for you to trip and lose your balance. I lived under the illusion that I could somehow execute a man-over-board manoeuvre quickly enough to find you in that mass of ocean. Even though it was possible to count the seconds before some object drifted away out of sight amongst the waves.
Nights, when it was your watch, I slept softly. Waiting for the thunder of your feet on deck as you rushed off in some emergency. Thump. Thump. Thump. Then silence as you went about fixing the problem. Silence, during which I held my breath. Silence, during which I imagined an erratic wave throwing you overboard. Silence, praying down my panic.
And then, after an eternity… thump, thump, thump, your tuneless whistle underneath your breath, back on the helm again. I’d fall asleep until the next emergency.
I never feared going on a voyage, for you would be there. In all those years of sailing of along coastal lines, across oceans, and through endless storms, the only thing I feared was you not being there to guide me any more.
There have been times in the last nine years since your death, when I will myself to breath again, when I pray down my panic. I don’t want to live softly any more, waiting for the next emergency. I want to hear the thunder of your feet again on the deck.
Love and affection,
Your Sailor Girl