Sunday, 12 February 2012
100 years since the 'unsinkable' RMS Titanic went down
I step out from the darkness onto the deck of the ship and my heart throbs in a violent rush as my eyes burn with hot, thick blinks. I frantically turn around and around trying to recognise my children.
Then I see them, there they are, their lips twisted into a downward half moon clutching onto one another as though they could predict the next tragic thirty minutes.
Thick cries rung above my head as mothers screamed. Children raved in a witch-like hysteria as a tidal of bodies threatened to rip their bones out of their sockets as they flooded over them, stepping on little legs, pushing down little heads, in order to save themselves.
Fear, panic, alarm, dismay, hatred, anger, defiance, desperation, terror, mutilation, arrogance, innocence and faith.
I quickly moved my children away from the rush, to the side of the ship that was soon to be doomed, but there I knew it was quieter, it was more still, more peaceful, away from the mad rush of human mortality.
I clutched my darlings about me and looked over their shoulder's to see another young girl gripping onto a small boy. A group on the floor; broken prayers, heavy whispers of assurance passed down to the ears of those clutched about their feet. Words that rose out from shaking throats, hovering strong words that paced up and down above the frenzy of outbursts beside them: 'Hail Mary full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.' Their full voices chimed.
I hear band master Wallace Hartley across from where we are huddling. His rag time music shatters into the overwhelming roar as the ship begins to brake in two.
Ripping, screaming, crashing.
Then above the maddening web of chaos I hear the striking sad pull of the bow across the strings. A familiar tune, a tune of meekness, assurance and sweet devotion of trust.
Days of my own childhood flashed violently across my mind.
The cold hard back of the pew upon my back bones. Mrs Hillden, the sweet organist playing as merrily and passionately as ever she could. And my mother. Her big blue eyes looking down upon me. Her golden hair shining like a carpet of gold as the sun stealed into the glass windows.
I saw an early spring morning, my favourite time of the year. I was a dependable delicate child running around the village with Charlie and Betty. And then the sweet late nights of summer with my Jeremy crept into my mind. When love was something phenomenal and immortal and dreams were your destiny.
I saw my father leave to fight the boers. Strong in his regimental rank, his cap stitched fairly on the top of his head. He had grabbed my shoulder and had said to me in a thick voice, 'take care of your mother will you? She needs you now more than ever.'
And that was it. The last I saw of him. The last my mother was ever alive again.
I saw my own life laid out before me. It was small, incongruous, yet insignificant amongst the flocking dregs of human matters and human lives, daily lived out.
I saw my soul and my spirit. My fears no longer mattered, my worries were ridiculous, but my delight, my contentedness and my humility finally counted.
A small trickling dribble of salt water rolls down my cheeks. Tugging restless fingers pull at me. I look down into the face of my children.
My mouth slowly opens and a wobbly shaken string of words float out into the night, 'Nearer my God to thee, nearer to thee. E'en though it be a cross that raiseth me, still all my song shall be, nearer my God to thee, nearer to thee.'
My hands greedily grip onto the two lives beside me.
The only regret in my entire life crept forward into my whirling brain.
I wish I could have held onto them for longer, I wish I could have never have seen them cry, I wish I could have loved them more and told them so every day.
I murmur about their heads words of comfort but nothing can stop their choking screams; 'mummy help me!'
'The time has come my children. We must be brave now. The time has come.'