If you have kids under 10, and live somewhere landlocked, you think this whole incident where two boys who headed into open ocean at 14 years of age is preposterous. You are aghast that not one, but two sets of parents could let their kids do that kind of crazy. I mean, it’s the ocean! Anything can happen out there! These parents were neglectful!
Oh how wrong you’d be if that was your response or belief. Growing up in South Florida on the water, in fishermen families where every day is seasoned with the salt of the ocean, these boys were doing what comes as second nature on a beautiful summer’s day. Two weeks before school starts and they were savoring every last minute of sun. God I envy them, their youth, their vigor.
I grew up boating in the Pacific Northwest and the Bahamas. Gales could come up with no notice and it is nothing but a sheer miracle that at least on two occasions I did not share the same tragic fate as these two boys… Swept overboard and my boat capsized. Crazy weather mixed in with just enough knowledge to get out of it and enough youthful bliss to believe I was invincible– truthfully between my husband and I it is only one accident, one crazy twist of fate that either one of us survived our adolescence.
And that’s why our hearts all go out to the parents and loved ones that anxiously await the good news of Austin and Perry’s return. Every parent with children in their teen years KNOWS that many times it is simply one act of fate or twist of tragedy that belies our deepest fears. We all stand in faith and hope praying that once again, God would shine His smile upon us and give us the happy ending we all so earnestly pray for incessantly.
We, those fortunate, half-crazed, overtly concerned parents of “one step away from stupidity” teens all know that even with the best of knowledge, the most mature and experienced boaters (or car drivers!) can wind up faced with the unthinkable. The horrific. The tragic. And because we all so desperately cry out and pray to God when our kids do the dumb, the insane, or the accidentally unknowingly dangerous or hurtful…we stand in the gap for these parents who’s only fault (please, hear the sarcasm) was to give their children the freedom of a boat and an “atta-boy— I trust you!”
Truthfully, I struggle because I know I should trust my kids more. I should give them more freedom. I should trust God more. And here these parents DO, and they end up on the bitter end of heartbreak and fear.
O Lord I just can’t stand any of it.
I’m consumed with prayer and worry for these boys. I’m overcome with pride for their mothers who have been standing strong, their fathers who have incessantly been searching, and their families who have stood so stalwart in the face of horrific criticism over letting their boys do what boys will and should do…roam, discover, search, surf, fish and ride high on life.
The search for Austin and Perry symbolizes everything everyone of us hopes never happens to one of our own kids. And in that way, Austin and Perry ARE our kids. They are OUR responsibility to pray and hope for. This community has pulled together and bonded over this story in ways I could never have imagined. We all just want to welcome these boys home with open arms and grab their cheeks! Every mother’s last words before bed are “Please God let them be found,” waking throughout the night to pray, envisioning two young boys huddled close for warmth under a starry Gulf Stream sky. Every father remembers his youth, how many times it could’ve been him, and imagines what lengths he would go to if it were his boy...and thinks about those dads trying to hold their families together while searching endless hours of ocean.
Oh God it is too hard to fathom… But not too difficult for you to fix, change, or solve.
To the parents and loved ones of Austin and Perry— we stand in faith with you, we pray for you, and we believe that your boys are coming home safe and sound soon. Your boys are like any one of our own, and that’s why we so desperately comb the news (and beaches) and social media looking for updates…awaiting the chance to hug them soon…much, much love and many prayers from a fellow mama in the trenches.