Nine members of my family and almost four-hundred other persons. BA flight 2069, December 28, 2000.
It’s not something I think of often, but my daughter, Rachel, recently posted on Facebook a dramatic re-enactment of the hi-jacking causing a flood of memories. It made me wonder how others on the flight were affected by the experience.
Here’s one article with comments from fellow passengers:
I distinctly remember my heart pounding so loud and slow that other sounds were drowned out. I’d never felt as calm as I felt in those moments – and I’ve never felt that since. I knew we all were on the verge of death, and I was thankful all nine of our family were together so none of us had to face the pain of life without the others. I accepted my fate as easily as I would accept a hug from a loved one.
Does that sound callous? My husband of twenty-two years, the father of my children, had died suddenly in an electrical accident six months previously. Russell, Rachel and I were still reeling from the loss. For me, the contemplation of imminent, sudden death was not at all frightening.
If you were on the flight, what are your memories?
If you weren’t on the flight but have had a similar experience, please share.
Earlier today I was chatting on AIM with my son, a 29-year-old successful deep-thinking man:
god i’m so glad you didn’t put us over yours and dad’s life… I tell people about that sometimes in conversations about kids and they are like uh wat? and i’m like yeah, wtf did you want my mom to do? give up her life for me? kids are supposed to grow up.
yah we did do that right. I learned it from Nana and Grandpa. Plus I was madly in love with Dad, and we made a decision together that he and I were the most important persons in our lives.
I got really busy with work for a couple hours. Curiosity got the best of me.
I moved out of Texas — a one-and-only time — October 10th of 2002.
I was back home by October, 2003 racking up 10s of thousands of Delta miles in the interim. (Also, thousands of rental car miles between Salt Lake City and Ashton, Idaho – one of the prettiest stretches of highway that exists.)
I missed my kids, my friends, my home, Texas… but I had been hell-bent to run from bone-deep grief. So determined, that I married a potato farmer and made that move to the farthest eastern portion of the Snake River Plain butted up against the Grand Tetons.
Jeff and I had a chemistry that was palpable. If that hadn’t been the case, I would have been home long before those twelve short months.
That year was a lifesaving gift. I made forever-friends and gathered family that I still consider family. My only regret is that I disrupted the lives of two sweet girls, Allison and Kelsey – for that I will always be sorry.
Why do I delve into this?…
This morning, I headed out to clean my garage… and my hands, of their own volition — free from any thought processes, started unpacking boxes from the Idaho move back to Texas. These boxes had been stacked in my garage all this time; I’d managed to shove their existence to the very back of my brain for 8-1/2 years.
So why unpack them today?
My guess is because my life will be entering a new adventure in the next year or so. I’m now engaged to one of the best men who ever lived. He loves me – sometimes I’m awestruck by how much he loves me. He loves me so much that I am for the first time in my life free to be ALL of me. And since some of this “ALL of me” is rather raw, I’m amazed he tolerates me at times.
My first husband, Gary, died almost twelve years ago. Jeff died more than three years ago. I still grieve for Jeff, and I will never finish grieving for Gary and the more than 26 years of full-to-bursting life we had together.
I’ve made mistakes on my long path of healing, but each mistake has taught me more about life, more about me. I’ll keep on making mistakes and keep on learning. Life never stops giving in that manner unless we quit receiving — this I believe with all my heart.
Well, the garage is cleaner than it’s been in years. Trash and recycle bins are brimming for Monday’s pickup. Boxes are stacked ready to go to storage. My hands are blistered, and this beer tastes great.
There remains one banker’s box from Idaho to explore. Maybe in another 8-1/2 years…
Last night my daughter, Rachel, three of her lifelong friends – Chris, Jesse, Mel – and I played dominoes and acted silly while drinking way too much… and then we drank more. I’m not sure we ever finished a single game, and if we did I have no idea who won.
Then we cried in memory of loved ones we’ve lost much earlier than death should have had the right to claim them.
It was one of those evenings that was relayed by my hippocampus into its forever and ever safe-storage in my cranium.
Rach and I crashed in the guest room, her bulldog Suri bedding down between my legs pinning me to the mattress. But who cares when you’re that inebriated?
At some point in the middle of the night, my body revolted and sent me to the porcelain throne, no doubt the only reason I was able to wobble into work this morning.
After washing my face and brushing my gnarly teeth and tongue, my incredible man made sweet love to me… completing this perfect memory.
The last thing I remember before the sandman visited was giggling and saying, “I guess I never grew up.”
Every once in a while we experience an event that is so fun, so fulfilling that the glow remains for days and the memories last for life.
I had one of those days last Saturday. I wasn’t the only one that experienced the ebullient well-being; in fact, I probably felt it least of the participants.
My son, Russell, and two of his buddies, Derek and Richie, raced in CMRA‘s Eight Hour Mini Endurance 250 cc Class motorcycle race at Eagle’s Canyon Raceway in Decatur, Texas. The three members of team Skidmark were all novices to racing, but they made a respectable first run at the sport.
Happenings that stick permanently in our memory banks are most often the ones that are earned with grit and usually some form of failure before we get it right; last Saturday was no exception.
Twenty-five minutes into Russell’s first run, my stomach left my body temporarily and did nauseating somersaults upon finding its way home. Russell laid the bike down and skidded across the pavement at 50 mph, shredding leather and leaving him adrenaline-drained. Later he explained, “The straight away before turn 9 is really rough and is a long bend left and then goes straight into a downhill double apex and there are no brake markers. I kept getting faster and braking later until finally my forks bottomed out and I low sided into the grass. It shook me up because it could have taken us out of the race. I didn’t get hurt at all, thankfully.”
I held my breath longer than any Guinness World Record holder to-date as Russell stood up and dusted himself and the bike off, got an OK from an on-track tech man and rode a couple more laps before he was forced into the pit to replace the shifter that was crippled in the fall.
When he got off the bike, he was too shaken to finish his run that should have stretched another twenty minutes. I struggled with my composure as I watched my tall, strong son wrestle with dread of his next relay run. I listened as he quietly vented of his big feet dragging and how hard it was to get them under the shifter after each corner, of how anytime he needed to adjust his center of balance the bike shimmied on the track; an uncomfortable feeling at best. Russell was so easy to spot on the track: taller and broader-of -shoulder than any racer in the field; a definite handicap in a 250 cc race.
Everyone at the track was supportive of each other; teams helping other teams even as they were competing against each other. I watched as Richie, Derek and Russell worked together; the warm reinforcement and team effort was palpable; Russell needed only to convince his psyche to support his physical efforts.
I had to leave before Russell started his next segment, but he kept me informed of the team’s progress.
He overcame his trepidation and contributed to the team as I knew he would. All three men, with their varied talents and abilities, created a stronger whole than the sum of the individuals: Russell with his intelligence and true humility in learning the art of a new sport; Richie, his stream-lined physique and gentle soul with some of the quickest lap times on the track; Derek, the natural-born mechanic – a tool has never felt so at-home as in his competent hands.
Derek, Russell and Richie completed 261 laps in eight hours at an average speed of 90 mph and came in at 18th place out of 32 teams.