Andrea Phillips: Waiting in Vermont
And the fact that all this happened under a full moon was just like wow. I’d go to bed every night, and the moon was just outside our bedroom window, so just before I pulled the shade, I could see that moon, and I sent my thoughts to Richard via the moon. I guess deep down inside, I was hoping he was thinking the same thing: “We’re both under the same moon. We’re in this together.”
I do believe that there is a connection, there is a power up there. Because at one point for me in this whole event, I had a desperate moment when I needed to do something for Richard, and I thought if I could just get all this powerful energy and good wishes and all this positive energy to him, it would help.
Y: What did you do?
A: [Easter] Sunday morning I was lying in bed, and I was just thinking to myself, “God, Richard must really be exhausted; we’re going into our fifth day. I can only imagine how he felt. I thought, “I just have to do something for him.” What could I do from 7500 miles away? From the other side of the world, what could I do? That’s when I had this idea. We have a little saying that has sustained us during moments of family crisis, through fun times, and not-so-fun times. You would chant, “God is good”; then someone would reply, “All the time, all the time.” Then the other person would repeat, “God is good.” We picked it up at a Mass many years ago, and we just sort of hung onto it for ourselves.
So I thought, “If only I’d thought about this the day before,” because I had the bishop of Vermont calling me, and the local churches calling, all asking what they could do. I could have had the whole state of Vermont saying, “God is good” and have everyone reply, “All the time, all the time.” I thought that could just be the power I could give Richard. Something to hang onto. So after I thought, “Why didn’t I think of that before?” I finally got up and asked Alison to try and reach at least the local priest.
A: She was the woman sent from Maersk [the shipping company]. And she jumped out of bed. She drove to Morrisville and she got through to the priest and they did it.
Y: Somebody called you so you could hear it?
A: Alison stayed for the Mass, and she called Jonathan, who is also a representative, and he got on his phone said, “Here, you have to listen to this.” And we were sitting around the kitchen table listening, and as I was listening, it started to snow. Now, snow is a good thing for us up here in Vermont. To me it was a sign. I know it’s kind of an unbelievable thing to believe, but to all of us in that house we knew it–hearing that, the snow. It was our little miracle. We knew it was going to be okay, and a couple of hours later we got word.
Y: Tell me about when you got the official word that Richard had been rescued.
A: I had a houseful. I had my sister and two good friends. They were my pillars; they just flanked me on both sides and took control over what I could no longer control. Amber would be the one person who in [the] early morning I would confide in. I’d say, “Amber, what if this doesn’t work out?” She had my weakest moments.
So people are coming and going all the time on Sunday. Richard’s mother had arrived. She’s a very strong, religious woman, a firm believer, and she flew up from Florida; she needed to be here. She showed up Easter Sunday morning. I’m just drained. I’m going to go up [to] my room, which is kind of my safe haven. I just want to lie down for a while. This is close to noon. Even though I’m not supposed to turn on the TV, because we made the rule: no TV, because the constant 24/7, it could drive you crazy. I turned on the television just to see a movie and figured I’d fall asleep in a few moments. And as I did that, there’s a little ticker on the bottom: “Captain Phillips rescued…”
I don’t think I stopped on a step. I flew down the stairs and said to Jonathan, “Find out if this is true.” And he called his contacts; the company was all celebrating, and they kind of forgot to call me. They were waiting for the official word. I still don’t know how it came down from out there in the ocean to here at stateside, but there were tons of phone calls from that point. [Vermont senator] Patrick Leahy called me to tell me they were dancing in the parking lot.
My first phone call–because my girlfriends are holding onto the phone–my friend Paige says, “Who is this?” And I hear her scream: “Richard is on the phone!” It was just the moment of hearing his voice.