A 3x Paralympian, 14x Guinness World Record-setting, Marine Veteran’s Final Journey

Foreword from author:

I submitted this piece to MMAA three days before Deb and I learned Angela Madsen passed away at sea. We were full of confidence, resolute that we’d be seeing her on the other side of the Pacific in less than a month. Unfortunately, tragically, incomprehensibly, Angela died halfway. Her boat is adrift and soon I’m departing with a crew to recuperate it. Deb is in Hawaii organizing logistics for Angela’s memorial. It seems in sheer busyness one can avoid coming to a full stop and letting the weight of grief sink in.

Re-reading this brought me to a full stop. I was asked to make changes, and after a few tries, I feel that what I wrote stands true and offers a new perspective of Angela’s story. It also feels less like she’s gone to keep it in present tense. After all, if things were different, she’d still be at sea, rowing closer to Hawaii. And since we’re actively working to bring her body and her boat across an ocean to finish what she started, it doesn’t feel over yet, however horrible and unchangeable the circumstance is. That feels like the deeper lesson in a tough year where we hoped Angela’s success would be a sliver of positivity: that so much is not in our control, but how we respond to it is. So, to borrow Angela’s wise words, we can’t look back and wish what was, we must instead move forward with what is, and on bad days, row harder.

Heavy rain batters thunderously loud against the cabin. Squall after squall after squall comes and goes, comes and goes. Sleep is a distant dream. But laying horizontally in a 6’x4’ space, that’s something– at least. The timer goes off. Your two hours are up. Grudgingly, you locate a headlamp and foul weather jacket in the bunk and open the hatch door to reveal more of the same: wind blowing hard and not in the right direction; waves between 10-14