On the bus to work this morning, Alene listened to the account (from a Librivox podcast of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s memoir South) of the rescue from Elephant Island. Last week we heard of the 800-mile trip to South Georgia in the James Caird and, in recent days, the extremely difficult hike across the island to the whaling station at Stromness. It required four attempts on the part of Shackleton, and the generous assistance of various Norwegian, Uruguayan and Chilean personnel, to reach the 22 men who had been stranded on Elephant Island for 137 days.
Shackleton had left Frank Wild in charge of the party — and by all accounts, he had refused to let them give up hope — insisting on maintaining a daily camp routine that included making ready for departure in case this was the day “the boss” would return — and that day came August 30, 1916.
In the early days, Alene and I had high hopes of being united to live out the rest of our lives together. But those were dashed the summer we moved to Seattle. A little glimmer remains though — and although Alene goes about her life as normally as can be expected with a buttinsky like me residing in her head, she maintains a routine that allows for the remote possibility of our finally meeting one day.
One of the reasons I came down here to South America was to give her a break from that — so that she can live life in Seattle without wondering where I am. Sometimes I think I should let her go — and encourage her to salvage something of her life without me — and often, she thinks she owes it to herself to at least try. But so far, she’s been unable to give up on me.
Remember how Rose Tyler couldn’t give up on the Doctor when he (the Christopher Eccleston version) found himself facing the Daleks 200,000 years in the future? He sent her home in the Tardis and told her to just abandon the little blue box on a street corner and let it be forgotten. And he told her to “have a good life.” But she couldn’t, could she?
There are some things you just have to keep hoping for — no matter how impossible they seem.