Some good must come from this tragedy


The terrible news came through last night: my friend Cidnie’s daughter, drowned in the marina where she and her husband keep their sailboat. I never experienced Kitty’s bright spark in person, but her lively personality was vividly illustrated by her mother’s stories and pictures.

The cruising community is tight. During a day of waiting and hoping and willing the best, comfort and courage was found in a circle of friends. Most of us have never met in person; we know each other through connections built over years through email, blogs, Facebook groups, chats. My fellow cruising mothers span the globe, and are a fierce tribe. And we know: this could have happened to any of us.

Public tragedy like this brings out the worst in internet rubbernecking, with sanctimonious speculation about what should have been done. The anonymity of the internet makes some people think they can pass judgement, making assumptions in the absence of information and facts, and taking pious comfort as the unaffected about what they’d surely have done differently.

That has no place here. This is simply a tragedy, a terrible accident. This could have happened to any of us.

My circle of boat mamas, gift that they are, melt our courage together in a well compassion and love for our friend. Each of us does what she can: we have mamas who have worked in SAR, who are communication whizzes, who are genius hacks, who have personal experience with public tragedy and know what proactively needs doing.

This could have happened to any of us. 

Google tells me that a typical funeral in the USA costs about $10,000. But what no Google search can tell you the many OTHER costs. Like how much wage disruption can hurt a family unable to work while mourning, which the Family and Medical Leave Act won’t do much to help. How the stress of financial strain compounded on grief takes a toll on families. How they need to keep their lives normal, while coming to terms that it will never be the same. Please help if you can:

UPDATE: those moved by Kitty’s spark may wish to donate to the scholarship fund set up in her memory.

To honor the memory of Kitty Carroll April 21, 2010- April 22, 2015 by helping other bold and fearless young women access higher education. 100% of Funds raised will go to a memorial scholarship at Miss Texas each year. May Kitty’s memory shine forever.

Thanks to the participation of her sister, Kitty had a deep love for the Miss Texas event. The funds are donated to the Kitty Memorial Scholarship Fund are given to the highest ranking candidate who does not win another scholarship in the event.

With gratitude for my tribe: Amanda, Amy, AnneBrittany, CharlotteCindy, Karen, Laureen, Laurie, Nica, the Victorias, and the rest, you know who you are. Today we dilute our wine or coffee or water with salty tears, and hold our boat kids a little closer.


Photos (c) Cidnie Carroll

22 Responses

  1. Very sad news, one every sailor with young kids or pets fears. My thoughts are with her family.

  2. I am so sorry to hear of such a lost. April 25th of 95, I lost my son. I have come to realize over the years, it is not what we do to protect our Children, rather it is what we have done to enjoy our Children.
    You gave your Child an amazing life, and you should never question that.
    Nothing can be said to ease the pain of a lost, just know your child was happy to live this amazing lifestyle.
    Love, positive thoughts and prayers will be sent your way.
    Love Ron

  3. From one mamma bear to another- this summarizes our fear. My uncle died before 30. My grandmother’s comment sticks with me always: “no parent should ever bury a child- it is not as it should be and we as humans are equipped.”
    Hugs to you and yours and my thoughts and prayers go out to your friend. As you said- it could happen to any of us. Accidents can’t be anticipated like we wish they could and as mamma bears- we want only to protect our Cubs and deliver them to the world healthy and happy adults who take care of us in diapers 😉

  4. This is so sad. So so sad. And this, I’m afraid, is so true: “The anonymity of the internet makes some people think they can pass judgement, making assumptions in the absence of information and facts, and taking pious comfort as the unaffected about what they’d surely have done differently.” Let’s hope not here, not now. Only compassion.

  5. Behan, you have put into words what so many of us feel. My daughter & son in law survived the death of a child & many of the outer consequences you speak of. My heart breaks for Cidnie & her family. I will continue to keep them in my heart & thoughts. Thank you, for putting the right words on such a tragedy.

  6. I am a bereaved parent.
    And it does SUCK.
    I have never known such raw, eviscerating pain in my life.
    The death of one’s offspring is a suffering like no other.

    I am, now, an Intentional Survivor of my daughter’s death, rather than succumbing to turning into a collateral victim, which is the easier path.
    But, for most bereaved parents, this turn takes YEARS.
    We are considered NEWLY BEREAVED for the first full five years and including the 6th anniversary.
    It has now been 6 years 4 months and 20 days since the death of my child.

    18 months after her death my husband and I founded a local chapter of THE COMPASSIONATE FRIENDS, which is the world’s largest FREE peer-to-peer support organization for bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings. TCF offers support, no matter the age of the child, from pre-birth to full maturity, no matter the cause.

    For those looking to help others suffering a death, there is a simple “introduction” to HOW YOU CAN HELP at

    I have many free resources available, both to those in need of support and those who wish to help.
    I can be contacted through our chapter website or at

    My heart goes out to all who are touched by this ugly tragedy.

  7. So very sorry to hear about this tragic accident! As you say, when we hear the deeply sadenning news of something like this, we hold our own kids just a bit tighter, whether on a boat or landlocked. Our deepest feelings to the Ceol Mor’s.

  8. Please, please let something good come from this. Every mama’s heart must be breaking. I know mine is. My daughter’s is. She’s holding her sweet baby closer today.

    It’s so hard when we’ve rejoiced with Cidnie over every wonderful post, every picture that she has posted. We feel attached, don’t we? Part of the family. And so we grieve. We mourn. And we wish we could do more than donate money. Praying for healing and peace to return one day to Cidnie and her family and sending virtual hugs to all.

  9. Behan, I had the rare pleasure of having dinner and going dancing with my youngest daughter last evening. (She lives out of state.) I hugged her longer, just to ‘breathe her in’, i played with her hair while we chatted with friends, I watched her eat, laugh and tell us silly stories. I watched her and her friend dance … All, while inside, my heart was bleeding for Cidnie and her family.
    I had the pleasure to meet Kitty twice, once the three of us met for lunch since we live so close and once at a WWS gathering at Cidnie’s home. In her momma’s words, Kitty was quite the firecracker!!!!!
    God must have needed her spirited little self in heaven by His side.

  10. Behan – once again you’ve found the words so many of us long for in these times of great sadness and grief. Our prayers are with the family. So so tragic and very sad. In tears… Dini

  11. Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with their family. I will hug our own precious children a lot tighter today in absolute gratitude. Life is so short & precious.

  12. You are right, this can happen to anyone, not just liveaboards. It’s a pitty people on the internet hide behind the faceless venue it provides.

    We had a scare last year with our youngest who Luckly had his life jacket on. Only takes a second, doesn’t matter if you are a cc captain, seasoned salt or whatever.

    There should be no blame, it’s tragic enough to burry a child. I can’t even imagine the heart break that family is enduring not to mention the mountain of costs associated which only adds salt to a fresh wound.

    It renews my faith in humanity that people/communities such as this reach out to one another from across the globe.

    To say they are lucky to have such support seems to take away from what I am trying to express, it’s not luck… It’s genuine, and I do believe good will come from this.

    Thank you for sharing such hard and tragic news in the face of faceless internet vultures. Be strong!

  13. We didn’t know Kitty or her family, but we live in a nearby marina in the same town. It is terrible how life can change like that, in the blink of an eye. We can’t protect our kids 100% of the time, as much as we do try. I remember when my daughter was skipping stones with her friend at the marina, and she fell in while I was coming back from the boat with her life jacket. It could have ended a lot worse if our friend weren’t standing behind her and able to jump in and pull her out. My heart goes out to this family.

  14. It just breaks my heart. I heard about this tragedy when we were sailing. Capri is 5 and we had a friend on board that also has a 5 year old. Still pulls on my heart strings. The guilt that I feel that is wasn’t my little Capri, but it so easily could have been. Isn’t it funny that even not knowing someone you still feel connected. Thoughts are with their family.

  15. This is tragic and just wrong for a little girls life to end and a family to have such grief and anguish,.
    To anyone who casts blame, take a moment to find out how many kids are killed in road accidents every week… is waaay more dangerous to put your child in a car and drive on the roads than let them near the water, accidents happen.

  16. So much love to her family and all that knew and loved her. The following is a letter Ram Dass wrote to parents of a slain child many years ago. I honestly, in all of my heart and soul, can’t even begin to imagine what losing a child must feel like… incomprehensible, unfathomable. If you feel it appropriate, please pass this along.

    Aloha pumehana~~~

    Dear Steve and Anita,

    Rachel finished her work on earth, and left the stage in a manner that leaves those of us left behind with a cry of agony in our hearts, as the fragile thread of our faith is dealt with so violently. Is anyone strong enough to stay conscious through such teaching as you are receiving? Probably very few. And even they would only have a whisper of equanimity and peace amidst the screaming trumpets of their rage, grief, horror and desolation.

    I can’t assuage your pain with any words, nor should I. For your pain is Rachel’s legacy to you. Not that she or I would inflict such pain by choice, but there it is. And it must burn its purifying way to completion. For something in you dies when you bear the unbearable, and it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees, and to love as God loves.

    Now is the time to let your grief find expression. No false strength. Now is the time to sit quietly and speak to Rachel, and thank her for being with you these few years, and encourage her to go on with whatever her work is, knowing that you will grow in compassion and wisdom from this experience. In my heart, I know that you and she will meet again and again, and recognize the many ways in which you have known each other. And when you meet you will know, in a flash, what now it is not given to you to know: Why this had to be the way it was.

    Our rational minds can never understand what has happened, but our hearts – if we can keep them open to God – will find their own intuitive way. Rachel came through you to do her work on earth, which includes her manner of death. Now her soul is free, and the love that you can share with her is invulnerable to the winds of changing time and space.

    In that deep love,
    include me.

    In love,

    Ram Dass

  17. I had never met this young girl, but this news hit me after a day spent at Kemah. The news broke my heart because that very day I remember seeing this sweet girl eating lunch with her dad at a seafood restaurant. I remember my mom and I talking about how cute they looked and precious it was for a dad to take his daughter out to a nice place like that for a date. She was beautiful. I remember watching them for a minute and then going back to our meal.

    When I saw her very picture on the news I broke down for days, grieving as if I knew her. I constantly thought about her and prayed for her family. I prayed that her parents would find hope after this tragedy, and I have wanted to contact them everyday since that day to tell them that. The song and story behind “Beauty Will Rise” by Steven Curtis Chapman is something I wanted to share long ago with her family. I pray that in the storm of heartache unimaginable they will still find hope at the end of the story.

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