Her two young sons in her arms, the young mother stood helpless in the teeth of the tsunami. It ripped trees from the ground by their roots, folded her humble home like a house of cards and blew it away. She stood fast in the flood, held out for as long as she could. Her arms ached with the effort to clutch her sons to her breast. The water pushed and pulled; her knees threatened to give way. At the end of her strength, she made the choice no parent should ever have to make. She might be able to save one Child but the effort to hold them both would surely be the end of all three. She let the oldest boy go, just released her grip and he was gone into the maelstrom. The courageous lady survived with her youngest. Later the older boy was found clinging to the top of a door and treading water, howling an awful lament. The three have been rescued and reunited. They are terrified past their wits’ end, clinging to one another, clinging, barely able to speak of the terrible experience, the awful power of the tsunami.
My daughter, who has two young sons, saw this story on the television news. It troubled her deeply and she phoned me to talk about it. She was mortified at the woman’s choice. How could a mother hold one, let the other go? Maybe it wasn’t a matter of choice, I suggested gently, perhaps it was an act of faith. Through the horrific darkness and agony of thousands of victims, three tiny lights shine. Survivors don’t know who they are until they are.