As I Have Loved You…

The night air was so cold it froze the teardrops on her eyelashes, and she shivered.  Her shoes had filled up with the freezing water that gushed in the lower levels of the ship; and her nightgown, heavy with water, clung icily to her legs.  She was very cold, but the gripping fear was perhaps worse than the freezing weather.  Crowds milled around in an urgent frenzy to get up to the boat deck.  Shouts and cries of distress rang out.  Amidst it all, she stood forgotten and alone.   She shivered uncontrollably.

“Little girl!” an old gentleman cried.  “What are you doing?  Where are your parents?”

“I don’t have a mama,” the little girl began, “or a Papa.  And I’ve lost my nanny.”

Without taking the time to answer, the old gentleman picked her up in his arms and headed toward the stairway.  Crowds of hundreds pressed in, and it was a struggle to make progress toward the boat deck.  Suddenly, with a roar, the ocean found its way onto the deck and rushed relentlessly onward.

Deafening noise filled the night air of April 15th, 1912.  The RMS Titanic was ending her first and only voyage.  The stunningly beautiful iceberg that stood etched against the black night sky had encountered the great ship with a stunningly horrifying effect.  Only hours—or minutes—remained before an immense empty stillness would once again overtake the vast ocean.

As the boat deck came into view, the old gentleman spoke again.  “What is your name, child?”

“Maurietta Peace.  It was my mama’s name.”

The deck was filled with anything but peace.  The tremendous amount of people on deck hurried frantically about.  The Titanic’s crew shouted out orders. “Women and children first!   Five more seats in this boat.  Come quickly!  Women and children first!”  Frantic voices could be heard above it all.

“Peace….peace…” the gentleman whispered.   “Maurietta, child, we will ask God for peace now.  After this, I will find a family to take you with them on a lifeboat.”  Amid the deafening roar, he bowed his gray head; and slowly, reverently, he prayed.

Our very present help in trouble, Our only Refuge and Strength, Our Father, we pray for Your grace now.  Shall we not fear when troubled waters roar?  Shall we abide securely under the shadow of Your wings?  Only by Your grace, Father, and only through Your peace.   Bestow on us Your peace now.  Plant our feet on the unchanging rock of Christ as You guide our feet through icy waters.  Bless us now.   Amen.

After closing his prayer and raising his head, he headed once more toward the lifeboats.   A small family stood huddled nearby.  “Could you take a little girl with you?” he called out.

“I have children of my own to care for.  You care for your own,” came the heartless reply.

“Could you please take one little girl with you?” he continued to others whom he passed.   These calls were largely ignored as families, preoccupied with surviving the nightmare, concerned themselves with their own families.

“Maurietta Peace, I will make sure you get on a lifeboat.” The old gentleman’s voice was tired but resolute.  “Let us keep trying now.  I do not wish to have to send you alone.  Nonetheless, we will do what is necessary.”  Father, we need Your help.

“Sir!  Excuse me, Sir!” interrupted a young boy.

“Yes, Lad?”

“Do you need a family to care for the little girl?”  Receiving an affirmative reply, the boy led them toward his family.

“Will you please, please take this little girl with you on a lifeboat?  I have promised to find a family to care for her.”

“We will care for her as our own daughter, I assure you.  But we must take her now.  There are only a few more boats to be lowered, and if we stand here any longer, we will miss our opportunity to obtain any seats.”

“From the bottom of my heart, I thank you, dear ones.”  I thank you, Lord, he added softly.

“Maurietta Peace, this is all I can do for you now.  I pray God be with you.  Trust all in Jesus now, dear child, dear Maurietta Peace.”  The words were filled with tenderness and great emotion.  Setting her down gently on her feet, he handed her a small book from his coat pocket.  The book looked worn and well read; engraved in gold letters were the words Holy Bible.  “Take this now, and go quickly.  God be with you all,” he cried as they turned away.

“Quickly, quickly!” the lifeboat attendant urged.  “We are almost out of space.  You must come now!  Women and children first.”

Time was of the essence.

“Maurietta, you have no life jacket.  You must take mine.” The young boy said to her.  “And then you must get on the lifeboat with my mother and sisters.”  He held the life jacket out to her.

“Won’t you come with me?” Maurietta asked.

“Oh, no.  I cannot get on while there are women and children here without a seat.  I will stay with my Father.   You must get on because you are a young lady.”

She looked up at him and tears spilled down her cheeks.  “I always wanted a real family.  I always wanted a big brother.”

“We will be a real family to you.  I will be your big brother and you will be my little sister.”  He hugged her tightly.

The lifeboat attendant picked her up suddenly and set her in the lifeboat.  “We must lower this boat now.   Stand back.”

The ropes were released and slowly the boat was let down toward the icy ocean below.  Family members cried out goodbyes to loved ones still standing on deck.

“Goodbye, little sister.   I will always love you.” The words rang out in the night air.

“I love you, big brother.”  With a sudden and sorrowful realization, the words left her mouth—she didn’t even know his name.

The small boat was quickly rowed away from the Titanic.  There was nothing left to do now but watch and pray.  Minutes passed.  The lights of the great ship flickered and died out.   Beneath the unforgiving ocean she was disappearing; moments later, she was gone.

The deafening noise of only an hour earlier was replaced with an eerie stillness.  The stars glittered.  The moon cast a glow across the water.  The iceberg still stood etched against the blackness of the night, an epic reminder of the horrible nightmare.  But all was quiet until a mother’s gentle voice entered the silence with blessed words from that small, worn book.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord,
He is my refuge and my fortress:
My God; in him will I trust.
Save me, O God;
For the waters are come in unto my soul.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.
Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled.”

{Written for the Vision Forum essay contest, “Women and Children First”.  © Amy P., 2011}

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