We all have dates in our calendars. Anniversaries. Remembrances. The happy and the sad.
Some dates eventually lose their importance as life goes on and we process through emotions and events. And that is good. Others remain, causing us to stand still when they pass, to breathe in life that little bit deeper. Because you remember. And that is good, too. Because remembering matters.
Today is such a date for me. I am probably the only person in the Western world for whom it is still a day marked on my calendar. This date, 12 August. The day 12 years ago when the Russian submarine, the Kursk, sank. Most hands on deck were killed by the two explosions which crippled her, but the accident left a handful of men trapped inside the submarine at the bottom of the Barents Sea. Hoping for rescue.
Hoping for rescue long enough that at least one of them, Dmitriy Kolesnikov, wrote notes which were found later, much later.
I didn’t know any of those Russian sailors, but still they remain family to me. I can honestly not imagine how it must be, sitting in the dark, with icy water slowly rising, oxygen slowly depleting, tapping out an SOS against the hull … hope trickling away as the inevitable becomes clear.
It is a thought so heavy, I can hardly breathe for its weight pressing down on me. My chest aches.
All the more reason why the note found on Dmitriy Kolesnikov needs to be remembered. ‘No need to despair,’ he wrote.
How do you write hope like that in the face of death?
I know there are more people out there, trapped like that. Caught in the deepest, darkest confinement, hoping against all odds that the inevitable is an illusion, that rescue WILL come.
I recognize it well.
And because of that preserved note, I who do not even serve in a submarine, must keep on breathing, keep on spreading hope and love. Keep on serving light in the darkness.
Thank you, Dimitriy, to you and your comrades.