Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Survivor's Guilt, 103 Years Too Late

April 15, 1912, 2:20 a.m.

1,517 Deaths out of 2,224 Passengers.

1 Iceburg.

. . . R.M.S Titanic

My research for SECOND-HAND SCAVENGERS has whisked me through decades of history--from 40 AD all the way to the 1960's. Even still, the one event lodged in my mind and heart is the fateful voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic.

The Titanic is such a well-known historical event, and I knew I had to put it in my book (even though the "jump" to 1912 is an accident). This determination also meant immersing myself in Titanic's history...

And tragedy.

As I read and watched countless films and documentaries about the Titanic (I highly recommend this one), my heart grew heavier and heavier. I found myself torn apart over the lives that were so unceremoniously silenced.

It was then, I suddenly realized, I had survivor's guilt--over something that happened 80 years before I was born. It's strange, isn't it? But true, nonetheless.

In search of history for my book, I came across a deeper understanding. The human race has endured hardship and destruction, but also triumph, and joy. Each moment is like a piece of wet clay, as it is molded into a work of art. Although I can look back to 1912 and see anguish, I can also look to the present and gain understanding.

Because of the Titanic:

  • The number of lifeboats on ships would equal the number of passengers, instead of the mandated 16.
  • Safety drills (muster drills) would be performed by passengers and crew before every voyage.
  • 24 hour radio watch and distress rockets would be required--so any calls of distress would not be missed again.
  • An international ice patrol began and is still done today by aircraft.
  • Ships' designs were altered to increase safety.
In a way, I could owe my life to the Titanic tragedy--which is so strange to consider. For, in May 2013, I was aboard Grandeur of the Seas when it caught fire at 2:50 AM. I remember the panic of being rushed onto the muster deck and fear of seeing the lifeboats lowered. It seemed so unreal and still does, thinking back on the event.

If not for the Titanic, what would Grandeur's fate have been on that early morning, two years ago? 

I prefer not to imagine, though I rest in the comfort that our Artist, the Designer of our world and its history, planned for it to happen. Maybe for the very reason that the Grandeur fire was just a blip of news and not a historical tragedy.

I hope that as I write SECOND-HAND SCAVENGERS I can pay homage to those lost and those who survived the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic. It will be a challenge, but a most worthy one.

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