Written by Whit's uncle, my brother Emory Smith. This blog is not mine, and none of this is about me; it has always been and will always be the voice of my son. I post Emory's creation nevertheless, because even though it's intended to deliver some measure of succor to me, it's beautiful, and the depth of this father's pain is at least a true measure of the infinite love that this father's son deserved. It honors Whit, and it deserves to be read.
A man and his son were lost at sea in a small boat. They passed the time talking of things they would do after reaching the shore or being rescued. But the days were sad and arduous, there was little joy and the constant fear they would never reach land.
One morning the father awoke to find the son dead from the hunger and exposure. In his grief he fell into the sea. The boat quickly moved out of reach. He struggled as the sea began to swallow him. It was cold. Sobbing and shivering, he soon felt it pointless to fight the inevitable fate. He drifted off into unconsciousness.
Next, he awoke to find himself in the same situation, but making a weak, almost involuntary effort to stay above water. Soon, he drifted off into unconsciousness. Again he awoke, still anguished at the loss of his son, but once again making just enough effort to breathe.
This repeated over and over, overwhelmed with cold, despair and loneliness he couldn't understand why he kept awaking. Death would be merciful in his situation. After what seemed like dozens of tortuous hours he again drifted off into his sea of despair. The next time he awoke, he felt different somehow, with clearer thoughts of his son and their dreams. He began to tread water. Still cold, hungry and in pain, sometimes sinking below the surface, then kicking just enough to arise again, he lapsed into unconsciousness.
When he awoke it was as if the fish around him had transferred strength to his legs and arms. He began to swim a little. Just a little time spent swimming, then treading water again. Of course in time he was again exhausted; crying out to his son he fell silent.
So it went for the next few days. Miraculously, always re-awakening with a little more strength in his body, but no less miserable, empty, and alone. One morning he awoke with land in sight. Not sure whether it was an illusion, he began swimming towards it until exhaustion closed his eyes.
The next time he awoke he was on the shore; an unlikely event for someone who had succumbed to drowning. Alone now on land, he looked longingly at the sea which could only remind him of his son. A more time passed, he began to accept his situation with a mixture of sadness and acceptance. Each evening he would walk along the beach, smelling the salt air, being sprayed by the cold sea spray. And each night as he lay on the beach, fish would gather at the shore line, and watch him sleep.