Do you ever have those days when you feel like your life sucks? You agonize over all the horrible things you have been through, you ask yourself the question: “Why me?” Then, something happens and you meet someone who changes the way you view the world. Maybe this person exudes happiness and you find out that they are caring for their adult son who has extensive health issues and you are in awe of the pain and hardship they have been through. Another may have learned of their own fate by being left by a spouse and trying to figure out how to pay for their life, while raising all their children alone. You see their life challenge and experience in relation to your own.
This is how I felt after reading Hester Rumberg’s book: “Ten Degrees of Reckoning: The True Story of a Family’s Love and the Will to Survive.” Hester writes about her friend, Judy Sleavin. I heard about this book from my hair stylist. We were talking at my last hair cut about amazing women who are strong and have been through unimaginable life events, and yet are the people who have a smile on their face, and you would never know they have been through such hell.
Judy Sleavin is a perfect example of that. Here is the synopsis of her story from Amazon.com:
“In 1993, Judith and Michael Sleavin and their two children set out to live their dream: to sail around the world. But one night, a freighter off the coast of New Zealand altered its course by a mere ten degrees. And changed everything. After surviving forty-four hours in the water, with a back broken in several places and paralyzed below the waist, Judith miraculously survived. Doctors would later say she suffered one of the worst cases of post-traumatic stress syndrome ever documented. News of the collision made headlines around the world, but, distraught, Judith never talked to the press. Her body was broken, and so was her soul.”
Judy and her husband were very experienced sailors. They knew what they were doing. They had been sailing for 3 years and were 20 miles from New Zealand, when they were hit. Judy and her family were going to stay and settle in New Zealand and let their kids finally get the dog they wanted so badly. The Korean logging ship did not have their lights on, were negligent and knew that Judy’s boat and their boat would collide. They did nothing to change course. Judy later sued the Korean shipping company. Maritime law states that if a boat is under duress, any boat nearby will stop and help. The Korean boat, not only hit her sailboat, but it proceeded to continue on its way without helping Judy and her family. If they had stopped, Judy, her daughter, and her husband would have survived. (Her son had already gone down with the sailboat). Instead, only Judy lived.
What an amazing story of survival. I can never imagine what it must have been like for Judy to watch her son, then daughter and husband drown in the middle of the ocean 20 miles away from their destination. It is a reminder to all of us, that we can always endure more than we know. We can go on. We can live and still have a smile on our face, and continue to make the world a better place.
Thank you, Judy, for having Hester tell your story.