In the season of miracles, Kristan chose this as her Best-of-Blogs. It originally appeared on October 18, 2010.
Those last fifteen minutes must’ve been the longest. Compressed in a chute, you are leaving the place that had been your refuge but was almost your grave. For the first time in more than two months, you are completely alone, away from the men who possibly saved your life, who kept you going, the only people on earth who can understand what you’ve endured. For sixty-nine days, you’ve been in an uncertain stand-off with death, and now…now, you only have fifteen minutes to go. Fifteen minutes until the rest of your life.
From the second the disaster occurred and for sixteen days thereafter, the families of the Chilean miners had nothing but hope. That’s a long time. Imagine the prayers, the bargaining, the rationalizations of just how it really was possible that your husband, your father, your brother, your son had survived. It could happen, sure. But the hours passed. The days crept by. The third day…the fifth…the tenth…the fifteenth…the sixteenth. The families must have been told to prepare for the worst. Imagine picturing your husband, your son, dead and alone, a half mile beneath your feet.
And then, on the seventeenth day, the miracle. The note said, “We are well and in the shelter…The 33.” Chile—heck, the entire world—was joyfully stunned. A mountain fell on those miners, they were trapped a half mile underground, and they were still alive. All of them.
The immediate question was how to get them out? Even one rescue would be miraculous…but thirty-three? The messages from the miners were heart-wrenching: “We ask that you rescue us as quickly as possible, and that you don’t abandon us,” the shift foreman said. “Don’t leave us alone.” The answer from Chile’s President Pinera: “You will not be left alone. You have not been alone. The entire country is with you all.”
Indeed, the entire world was with them. And in this day of war and suspicion, of bickering political parties and Internet bullying, how often does the world come together? Chilean flags were flown around the world, candles were put in windows, prayer vigils were held. The families of the miners moved to the work site, Camp Esperanza—Hope—to wait together. The oldest miner, married for 30 years, learned that his wife was camping half a mile above him. Concerned, he urged her to go home. Her response: “I’ll leave here when you do.”
For weeks and then months, the world waited. A tiny tunnel was drilled, supplies were lowered…food, water, air. A camera allowed us to see those ghostly images of the unexpectedly cheerful miners, singing Elvis Presley songs, asking the score on soccer matches, sending messages to their families. One watched, via fiberoptic cable, his wife giving birth to their daughter.
But how would they get out? The initial estimates for their rescue was Christmas Eve, but thanks to a Pennsylvania-based company, the drilling went better than expected. Still agonizingly slow, still difficult, drilling through virgin rock. Would the tunnel hold? What if the capsule twisted while en route? Would the winch operate, would the cables snap? It would be the deepest rescue ever attempted…and it would be attempted thirty-three times.
On October 13th, the world held its breath. And then, one by one, they were strapped into the capsule called Phoenix—the bird that rises from the ashes. The President of Chile was there, the First Lady, the rescue workers, doctors, EMTs, and of course, the families—wives, parents, children, grandchildren. As the first miner came into the sunlight, church bells rang throughout Chile. Children were sent home from school. The world wept with unadulterated joy. Each man was given a Chilean flag inscribed with their names, and they wore shirts that on the front said, “Thank you, God” and underneath, “Because nothing is impossible with God.” On the back, the shirts read “In whose hands are the depths of earth, the peaks of the mountains are His also.”
Over and over, the capsule descended into darkness and rose into light. “Welcome back to life,” was the greeting they received. One miner hugged his wife, then fell to his knees to offer thanks. Another kissed his wife and asked, “How’s the dog?” Some ran to the rescue workers and greeted them in elation; others held their children and cried. All were greeted by the President. All were taken to the hospital, where they watched and cheered as their fellow survivors ascended.
Every one of them was rescued flawlessly. Everyone was healthy. Every single one.
Before Oprah and Larry King, before the book deals and movie rights, before October 13th becomes a Chilean national holiday, those miners were alone in the dark. The families were told that this would likely be a recovery mission, not a rescue. After all, even if the miners had reached the shelter, there was only enough food for two days. And half a mile beneath the surface of the earth, the miners had to at least consider the thought that the world up there figured them for a lost cause. One day after the disaster without a sign from above. Three days. Seven. Ten. Fifteen.
But somehow, instead of despair, those above and those below chose hope, and theirs is a lesson in unity, in perseverance, in courage and faith. But it’s also a lesson in love.
There was a second note found on that seventeenth day, something more personal. It was from the oldest member of the group, the one whose wife waited with such steadfast and unswerving hope. This note said: “I haven’t stopped thinking about all of you for a single moment. I love you, and I will see you soon, and we will be happy ever after.”
Dios los bendiga a todos, Los 33! Viva Chile!
Catslady, you’re the winner! Email Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your prize!
I’m at my dad’s house. He’s 91 years old and he has a brutal cold, so I’m hanging out with him while my stepmother runs out to an appointment (the picture above is from a few days ago, when he was stepping out to a holiday party). My dad is actually in amazing physical shape, but he is 91, so he needs a little extra care when he’s sick. Not that he’s demanding–quite the opposite. He hates to be a bother and apologies to me for “having to babysit” him. I always tell him that it’s not babysitting–I’m spending time with my dad. I am happy to do so since he’s the coolest guy I know.
My father is the template for everything I think is right in the world. A member of The Greatest Generation, he was an altar boy, a boy scout, and the top of his class in high school. He did this while growing up in a very poor family with a father who had trouble finding work during the depression of the 1930′s. In fact, my father and his older brother helped to support the family by running a newspaper stand. My dad was seven years old at the time.
Here’s a picture of my dad with two of his older siblings–my Aunt Rosalie (92) and my Uncle Ray (96) of newspaper stand fame.
As you can see, I’ve got some great genes in the old gene pool! My aunt still lives on her own, cooks, cleans her apartment, and drives. She’s also an accomplished painter.
Back to my dad. When he graduated from high school, he joined the navy and became a naval pilot. After WWII he married my mother, went to college on the GI Bill, and started a printing business in his basement. He went on to establish a very successful company that he maintained for over fifty years, a business which paid for his children to go to college and also employed my brothers. My father accomplished all this while maintaining high ethical standards and conducting his business with honesty and charity. He was a great role model for his five children, that’s for sure.
And, btw, he was also a really good dad. He was kind and attentive and way ahead of his time. One really cool thing he used to do was take two of his children at a time on trips for the weekend. He had a small plane, so he would fly us to places like Williamsburg, Cape Hatteras, Cape Cod, and even the Bahamas. How awesome is that?!
When my dad retired, he didn’t slow down. He flew his plane across the US, participated in bike marathons well into his seventies, and went on several walking tours of Europe. Even at 91, he walks a mile or two every day.
My father taught from example–he’s a kind, thoughtful man with a great sense of humor. He doesn’t suffer fools but he’s patient and became more so as he grew older. With five children–three of them hell-raising boys–that was quite an accomplishment.
He also likes to have fun.
So you can easily imagine why I call him my hero. He taught me the value of a good education, and always told me to pursue my dreams. I know that’s something of a cliche, but in his case it was 100% true. My dad never believed in limitations for his two daughters–he wanted and always encouraged us to succeed.
Well, Dad is up from his sickbed, so I’m going to make him breakfast. And realize, once again, how lucky I am to have a father like him.
Since it’s the holiday season, I’m in the giving mood! I’ll give away a copy of my soon to be released historical romance, HOW TO PLAN A WEDDING FOR A ROYAL SPY. Just tell me about a personal hero or heroine in your life for a chance to win!
I am very excited to be a guest on Jaunty Quills. Thanks so much, Kristan, for having me here.
My name is Susan Hanniford Crowley, and I write contemporary vampire and supernatural romance. What do you think is romantic? How can you tell if someone is your true love?
In my novel Vampire King of New York, my vampire characters can tell if someone is their true love or “lifemate” if the other person says that they are warm to the touch. King Max, former Viking and current CEO of VMeer Industries, returns to the city he helped build to find the one and only woman who can heal his heart. Max likes to court with imported roses, carriage rides, a late supper on his yacht, and champagne baths. But he also enjoys an in-home movie night with family.
In this excerpt, Max is dating the human Evelyn, who has been staying in Manhattan with her sister Laura and brother-in-law David. Both are vampires. Max and Evelyn are still at the feeling each other out stage. They are at David and Laura’s place for a movie night, after an earlier date that ended on shaky ground.
David hopped up and put in the next movie “Love at First Bite” with George Hamilton.
Evelyn whispered to Max, “You didn’t answer my question.”
“I’ve only married once.”
Evelyn sipped her orange soda. They all laughed when Dracula was rousted from his castle by a communist gymnastics team and went off in search of true love in New York City.
The movie was filled with vampire humor. When they got to the disco where Dracula asked the model, Cindy Sondheim, to dance, they grew quiet. George Hamilton was amazing on the dance floor.
“Are all vampires great dancers?” Evelyn asked.
“No,” Max shook his head. “Not at first. I send all the new vampires to dance classes. I mean we have a reputation to keep up.”
She stared at him. He looked so serious saying it. Laura started to giggle. Evelyn narrowed her eyes at Max. “Oh, you’re joking. Stop that.”
He laughed. His fangs had descended. He looked so sexy like that. All kinds of feelings rushed through the lower part of her and dancing wouldn’t cure that.
“I’ve got to get something in the kitchen. Come on, David. Come help me.”
Next thing Evelyn knew, she was alone with Max. She tried to concentrate on the movie, but it soon become evident to her that Laura had done this purposely. Her sister and brother-in-law had gone off to bed.
Max put his arm around her shoulders. She leaned into him. Cindy and Dracula went to bed.
Evelyn couldn’t stand it. “I’m sorry …”
“Shh… no… it isn’t necessary for you to apologize.” He stroked her cheek. “I’m only happy you wanted me back.” He kissed her, his lips barely touching hers. “If you’re tired and wish to go to bed, I will sleep on the sofa so I’m not far away. I want you to have your time to think.”
She shook her head and climbed into his lap, embracing him. “Max, I need you to hold me. I’m a broken person, and I don’t think I know how to love.”
He turned the movie off and together they lay on the sofa. He pulled the flowered afghan down over them. In the dark, he kissed her hair.
“Evelyn, sometimes when I hold you a raging fire of passion consumes me. But then at other times, when you’re in my arms, I feel peaceful. I haven’t felt peaceful in over a thousand years. You give my heart rest.”
I will be giving away a copy of Vampire King of New York to one lucky commenter in their choice of print, Kindle, Nook, or Kobo. To enter all you have to do is comment and tell me the most romantic thing a guy has ever did for you. Also please, tell me in your comment which format you would prefer. The contest is worldwide and ends on Dec. 20, 2014 at midnight Eastern Time. The winner will be announced on Sunday, Dec. 21 at Jaunty Quills.
Susan Hanniford Crowley is an Amazon Kindle bestselling author in vampire romance. Vampire King of New York is the first book in her second series Arnhem Knights of New York. Susan loves to create Zentangle art pieces, is a brown belt in Muay Tai (kickboxing), has a dog named Pete and two sister cats named Bella and Buffy. She is married and has two grown daughters, a son-in-law and a granddaughter. Susan enjoys dancing and collecting dragons.
You can find Susan at:
Her website: www.susanhannifordcrowley.com
Her blog: http://nightsofpassion.wordpress.com
Susan is a member of RWA, CTRWA, SFWA, Broad Universe, and is published by Soul Mate Publishing. Her next appearance will be at Arisia 2015 in Boston on Martin Luther King Weekend.
Thank you, Kristan. Thanks, everyone, and don’t forget to comment to be eligible to win! What was the most romantic thing a guy ever did for you?
Thanks to everyone who stopped by to talk about Christmas trees and beloved ornaments. I loved hearing about all the different mementos…and I could visualize all your beautiful displays!
The winner of the $10 Amazon gift certificate this time is Arlene Hittle. Congratulations, Arlene! If you’ll email me privately at KOBrien@aol.com and let me know where you’d like me to send it, I’ll get the gift certificate out to you ASAP.