I read a news story this morning that made me choke on my breakfast. As a human being and one who is concerned about other people it made me nervous. As the father of a daughter, I felt my heart in my throat…
Abby Sunderland, the second oldest of seven children did something Saturday morning in Marina Del Rey that most people would never even dream of doing. No, she did not dip her french fries in mustard at the local Cheesecake Factory. She set sail for a trip around the world. Alone. Abby is sixteen years old. I was gagging on my eggs as the truth of this young girl’s global mission slowly sunk into my brain.
This is not a trip to the Sherman Oaks Galleria or a jaunt to a chic hot spot on Rodeo Drive. Abby is not going to be hanging out in LA. She is going on an odyssey from California, around the tip of South America to, well, around the WORLD! It will take her five months. If I were her dad, it would seem like five years.
As a father, I know I would not sleep at night between now and April. I would be a nervous wreck every time I heard the phone ring. My daughter drove to the Bay area a couple of years ago and I kept checking the traffic reports all the way up Highway 101. For eight hours. I wore out the carpet pacing back and forth. I was reassured shortly after midnight that my sweet Corie Beth had arrived safely. She drove 350 miles and I was a basket case. Abby Sunderland is sailing 23,000 miles. Not in one night but over five months. If I am her dad, I would need more prescription sedatives than any human in history. In fact, I would rather be put to sleep until April so I would not know enough to be paranoid. Or, I would like to rent a cruise ship and follow my baby at a safe (and protective) distance.
A sixteen year old girl on the open sea. Storms. Ice floes. Currents. Pirates. Sharks. Sixteen years old. Alone. It is one thing to follow your dream. It is quite another to have a potential death wish. What are the odds Abigal Sunderland will return home alive? Don’t ask.
How can a father allow his teenage daughter to make this trip? Or maybe the question is, how can a father prevent his teenage daughter from making this trip? Evidently, this girl is beyond strong willed as a child goes. Her older brother accomplished this feat two years ago. It must be a family thing. Some families are known for their ability to raise horses or make really good pickles. Evidently, the Sunderland’s are a bit more adventuresome. They raise a child, get a boat and send them around the world with some beef jerky and Ramen noodles.
I hope my instincts that scream within me, “How could you ALLOW your sweet sixteen daughter to launch herself into oceanic hell?” are wrong. I hope she sails beautifully back into Marina Del Rey in five months and finally orders those french fries and a coke. But, I have a bad feeling about this. My main hope is that the Coast Guard will rescue her by tomorrow and bring her back to reality.
There are many who say that if she dies living her dream then she is blessed. I am not one of those people. There are dreams and then there is irrational judgment. I am afraid young Abby chose the latter option. I hope I am proven wrong but even if she does survive this journey, I still believe it was a decision that should not have been seriously questioned but permanently squelched.
I can’t help it. I’m a dad.
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