Let me start off by saying this:
I don’t know Austin and Perry’s family personally. I don’t know the children. I have connected friends, family and community members but I have probably never laid eyes on either of those boys.
I don’t know exactly what all was on board the boat. I don’t know precisely what safety equipment they had or didn’t have. I don’t know how much training the boys had or even how much experience they had.
I don’t know for sure where the boys were going or what their plans were for the day. I don’t know if they planned on fishing just a few miles out or if they really thought about going all the way to the Bahamas.
And frankly, I don’t care.
Those simple, stupid arguments are only for the fortunate perfect parents who have perfect kids who have always made perfect decisions and adolescent children who have never pushed a boundary, broken a rule or attempted the inane.
I’m not in that crowd. Never have been since week one in my parenting.
You see, if you have no children or if you have young children, you can cluck your tongue and reason away this tragedy as though it could have been avoided “if only.” If only they had been equipped, trained, obedient or whatever it is that you bloody THINK you know. And you’d be a damn fool.
Trust me, tragedy happens anyway.
Grown men who’ve captained larger vessels have been taken down by lesser circumstances and stranger twists of fate. Could this have been avoided? We’ll never know. That’s not the reality of the situation anyhow so any Monday morning quarterbacking only makes you a jerk, not an empathetic “could’a been me as a teenager a number of times” human having love and deepest sympathy and regard for these precious families now facing the stark consequences that a South Florida summer storm can wreak. All of you casting your stones forget that an able bodied adult was also lost at sea in that same storm on another small craft. No one calling for the arraignment of his wife or family.
Austin and Perry have brought me to prayer every hour of every day since the moment their situation went public. I have kids. I know kids. I was a kid. I am only here today because on any number of occasions tragedy turned away…
It’s like when some precious toddler gets accidentally left in a car…or some three year old wanders off into a lake…or some teen drives recklessly costing lives and heartbreak.
Should we cast stones at the heartbroken?
Kids obey, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they sorely misjudge a situation. Sometimes tragedy strikes even with all the right equipment and best preparation. Those of us who’ve been around the block a few times choose to look lovingly at those who have suffered such heartbreak and walk with them in prayer, humbly realizing that at any given point it could be us needing the love and support.
The Reback Family, the Believe With Me Family, stands with the loved ones of Austin and Perry. I would also please ask that anyone reading this keep the friends and schoolmates of these two boys in your prayers as well. I’ve seen the profound sadness on these kids’ faces and it is heartbreaking.
A follow-up post: No Perfect Parents Allowed