In the midst of a room I sit, surrounded by clothes I’ve been trying to arrange for over ten days. It’s that time of year when we Greeks “take down” our summer clothes, sort through our winter wardrobe, give stuff away, store the rest in suitcases in some closet “up high.” Amongst all my accumulated crap, endless stretched-out T-shirts made by underage kids in Turkey, that cost $5 and pollute the environment, is a bagful of my son’s stuff from last summer, that as usual, I was sure would fit him this year.
Including a life jacket.
I pack it all into a big garbage bag, thinking of where I should donate it all to this time, for there are so many options. But I hold on to the life jacket. For days, it lays on the floor. I step over it, he tries to squeeze into it, I move it to the corner of the room, back to the center again, position it on the armchair in the corner; it sits there, empty.
A boat capsizes outside the coast of Italy, or is it Malta, neither country can decide whose responsibility it is, by the time they do, the sea swallows 250 people. Sixty of them kids. Some of them, wounded kids. But that doesn’t matter anymore, they’re dead. I wonder if any of them could have used my son’s life jacket. If it would have kept them alive long enough for the authorities to decide who was going to go save them. After distress call, upon distress call, over five hours. I imagine what the story would be if the boat was full of rich tourists sailing the Mediterranean, and not Syrian refugees.
Nobody cares anymore. It’s easier to let them die than to take them in. I get it. Our sense of humanity is capsizing. Hold on to your life jacket, if you have one. I sure as hell will.