Last year's Race to Mackinac sailboat race from Chicago to Michigan's Mackinac Island was, by all accounts in our family, the best of times and the worst of times.
My husband and son competed in the race for the first time on a boat we'd owned for less than one year. I tracked them (or, more accurately, attempted to track them) during my drive to the island via the online race tracker...until it crashed.
And then a series of storms hit.
They converged over Lake Michigan in the middle of the night. Frantic Facebook messages were posted by panicked racers' friends and family members trying to obtain any information about their loved ones. Emails were blasted from the race committee requesting patience and understanding as details were learned and sorted out. Mayday calls were issued. Racers abandoned the race. Noses were broken by storm-driven booms crashing out of control. The Coast Guard was called.
In the end, two sailors lost their lives and a subdued post-race gathering was held on Mackinac Island under a flag flying over the Grand Hotel at half staff.
I greeted my husband and son when they reached the island, changed forever by their journey.
They're two weeks away from taking the journey again, and I'm trying my best to breathe deep...stay positive...and feel their excitement. However, when your family's first Mac Race is another family's last, you'll never really breathe deep until your sailors come home.