The incredible rescue of the boys from Tham Luang cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park was the good news story we all needed. Picture: Thai Navy SEALs via Getty Images
The incredible rescue of the boys from Tham Luang cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park was the good news story we all needed. Picture: Thai Navy SEALs via Getty Images

Most vital part of Thai cave story

OPINION

NOTHING has captivated all of us more in the last few weeks than what went on in the dank and waterlogged underground caves in Thailand.

As the mother of 16-year-old - the age of a couple of the boys rescued from the dark, dingy and dangerous, water-soaked caves - it has been a very sad but riveting rescue. It has also extracted every kind of parental emotion possible.

We have been inundated with news of each tense minute of this extraordinary rescue and now, at last, the thrilling news that all 12 and their coach are safe.

We should not forget, of course, the tragic loss of the life of one former Thai Navy seal, a hero named Saman Kunan, 38.

The fact he died while helping rescue the young soccer players and their 25-year-old coach, is something that should never, ever be forgotten. And he will, no doubt, be rewarded posthumously by the Thai government.

 

The 12 boys and their soccer coach were found in Tham Luang cave nine days after they went missing when monsoon rains blocked their exit. Picture: Thai Navy SEALs via Getty Images
The 12 boys and their soccer coach were found in Tham Luang cave nine days after they went missing when monsoon rains blocked their exit. Picture: Thai Navy SEALs via Getty Images

 

The youngsters, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach were finally safely extracted on Tuesday night, but it cost the life of a former Navy SEAL. Picture: Thai Navy SEALs via Getty Images
The youngsters, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach were finally safely extracted on Tuesday night, but it cost the life of a former Navy SEAL. Picture: Thai Navy SEALs via Getty Images

With the euphoria of the miraculous rescue still kicking in, what I cannot stop thinking about is how the parents of the boys would have been feeling up until they knew for sure that their precious kids had been saved.

They would have been constantly nauseous. Would not have slept. Hoped and prayed. Put their lives totally on hold. Would possibly have been working out the worst and hopefully, the best outcomes for their flesh and blood.

Via the wonderful world of technology, and even though the parents knew their children were still alive (although perhaps putting on a brave face for video footage beamed all over the world), they would have been, quite simply, scared to bloody death.

It has been emotional for so much of the world - and we don't even know these children or their coach, Ekapol Chantawong - but the resilience and strength they all showed over the last 18 days is something that has resonated with all of us.

I have often thought of the To Kill a Mockingbird moment when Atticus tells Scout: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ... until you climb in his skin and walk around in it."

 

The whole world was engrossed in the plight of the boys, praying for them during the perilous rescue. Pictured, onlookers cheer as ambulances transport the last rescued schoolboys to Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital. Picture: Linh Pham/Getty Images
The whole world was engrossed in the plight of the boys, praying for them during the perilous rescue. Pictured, onlookers cheer as ambulances transport the last rescued schoolboys to Chiang Rai Prachanukroh Hospital. Picture: Linh Pham/Getty Images

 

In the end, this was a story of strength, courage and cooperation from the trapped boys and their saviours from across the world. Picture: Royal Thai Navy via AP
In the end, this was a story of strength, courage and cooperation from the trapped boys and their saviours from across the world. Picture: Royal Thai Navy via AP

 

So I did. And I can honestly say that their plight over the last few weeks is totally unimaginable.

As a mother, I found it all heartbreaking. How the parents of the boys were going to get through it, I will never know or fathom.

Even though the boys are out, there is still a long way to go in terms of physical and mental rehabilitation.

The whole rescue mission has totally put everything going on in the world - from Trump to local politics (ho-hum), the World Cup and just about anything else - into perspective.

The fact these boys' plight captivated us for days gave many of us a sense that humanity, passion and pure kindness really does reign. Most of us can't even imagine being without our phones or device for 24 hours, let alone being stuck in a lifeless, labyrinth of a myriad caves, not knowing if we will ever leave.

One of the amazing elements of the last few weeks has been the brilliant support team from around the world who made their way to the ledge where they were living for the last two-and-a-half weeks.

 

The mindsets of the boys would have very grounded before they took their plunge to get out of the cave. There would've been some who were panicked and anxious while others would have been more confident.

Their rescuers attempted to calm their minds, with some reportedly given sedatives to help steel their nerves for the journey out.

Meditation - a standard of Thai culture - is about getting the mind to the "right" place. Their coach, a former monk, is thought to have led the boys in some calming exercises.

While that may sound like hocus-pocus to some people, those with an interest in eastern culture will know the importance of stilling the mind and not panicking or becoming too anxious about dire situations.

It is not the sole reason the boys in their coach survived. It would just be ludicrous to say that. It was, much more practically, the work of the incredible divers who physically got the boys out, who did the job.

But having the right mindset was certainly something the boys needed.

 

The entire rescue seemed even more captivating and emotional because it involved kids.

Passionate, sporty young boys whose love of soccer and camaraderie ultimately left them trapped in the overflowing caves in the first place.

Many of us remember when Australian miners, Brant Webb and Todd Russell, were miraculously rescued from the Beaconsfield Mine collapse in April, 2006.

Of the 17 people who were in the mine at the time, 14 escaped immediately following the collapse, one was killed - Larry Knight - and the remaining two were found alive using a remote-controlled device.

The two miners were rescued on 9 May 2006, two weeks after being trapped nearly a kilometre below the surface.

This Thailand rescue was very, very different to Beaconsfield.

It involved children who could not swim; had never been cave-dived in their lives but somehow, with the impressive skill, experience and help of diving SEALs, they slithered their way out and back onto terra firma.

At the end, this was a good news story. But it was this close to being a very different tale.

Good news stories, these days, are very, very hard to come by. I get the feeling that they would've been many families across the world giving each other a big hug when the boys came out.

And let's face it, what better feeling is there than that?



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