Those who may have read my Virtual Cruise from the Explorer of the Seas might have got the impression we didn't have table-mates for dinner.
Though the report sort of read that way, it wasn't really the case. It was just that we didn't get to spend as much time with our table-mates as you'd normally expect to, for a variety of reasons. We didn't move to their table until the second night onboard. Then on some other nights alternate dinner reservations in Portofinos, etc interfered with us spending as much time together as we would have liked.
Our table-mates were actually a family of four ladies. An elderly mother who had some mobility problems, and her three grown daughters. Two of whom had never cruised before. They were delightful, and we certainly did enjoy our time with them during the few meals we did share, and when we met around the ship.
At our first dinner together they explained that one of the "girls", Patty, had terminal cancer, had just finished with chemo and radiation, and her dream was to take a cruise. Mom and her two sisters made this happen.
After a couple of days onboard they told us Patty was doing great on the ship. Feeling better than she had in a long long time, and truly taking in the entire experience, and loving it! Their eyes sparkled when they talked about having the opportunity of having this experience together. We joked and laughed; all the things that come natural on a cruise vacation.
On the 5th night of the cruise we met for drinks after dinner. They had seen the sign at the purser's desk offering the next week's cruise at bargain prices, and wanted to ask me some questions about how to make this happen.
They were as giddy as children unwrapping presents, explaining that everyone felt so good, and was having such a good time they wanted to stay on another week.
In the little time we had spent together I developed great respect for these four ladies for their obvious strength in dealing with adversity, and for the obviously special family bond they shared.
I was totally excited for them, that the cruise was so special to them they didn't want it to end!! We all parted company that night smiling and laughing.
I had already begun formulating an article in my mind about these ladies, and how one's dream of cruising had brought them so close together, and how being together had given them so much strength.
Later that night Patty had a massive seizure while enjoying their balcony, and was taken to the ship's infirmary. When we learned about this the next day I shed tears for these 4 brave ladies.
They later told us RCI's doctors and staff were wonderful with assisting in making arrangements for medical transport to take them home, when the ship reached Miami.
I learned yesterday that Patty passed away, with her mother, loving sisters and families by her side. I'm sure aside from the pain of loosing a daughter and a sister, they'll take comfort in the memories of their very special moments together on the Explorer, fulfilling Patty's dream.
And I am honored that they shared some of those moments with us.
Patty .. Rest in Peace! It was our pleasure sharing your special cruise with you.