This afternoon, as Hudson and I drove out of our neighborhood to pick up the girls from school, I watched a small plane fly away from the airport, take a weird swoop, and dip suddenly. It startled me, but I thought the pilot was pulling a stunt. But instead, I watched it barrel to the earth, bursting into flames in the middle of a field. It was absolutely horrible. I instantly called 911, knowing the airport had to have seen it, but this is just what you do in an emergency.
As I approached the wreck, black smoke and bright fire were billowing out of the place the plane should be, but all I could see were two wings, sticking up oddly from the pile. I was kind of in the middle of nowhere, all alone on the road. I felt helpless, in shock, and Hudson saw it all. Of course the fire department and ambulances would be on their way by now, and there was nothing I could do but turn around, and drive to the school. I called Jim to settle me down, it was just such a huge shock.
I was so upset for these people, who couldn't possibly have survived it, and for their families. And of course they've been on my heart all night tonight.
I made a decision right in the car that I wasn't going to tell the girls about it- Grace especially has a big fear of flying, thanks to her God-given frantic imagination with a bent toward the terrible (which, of course, I have as well). When I went to Zambia last year, she was in constant concern for my safety. And plane crashes are rare, and you just need to go for it even if you're afraid. I'm always reassuring her these things. I, myself, hold my breath until I'm in the air- I've heard it's the take-off and landings you need to worry about, much more than the time you're suspended. Once I'm in the air, I still hate it, but can exhale.
On the subject of constant vivid-imagination worrying, one of my personal favorite fears is of a plane crashing into our house. And in this case, if the plane had travelled just maybe 30 seconds further before attempting to turn back to the runway, it could have easily nose-dived into our neighborhood. And so, my irrational fear has fuel for future fruitless worry.
I didn't want the girls to hear about it. Hudson hadn't said anything about it while we waited for the girls, so I thought maybe it didn't all register for him (thankfully).
Of course the first thing Hudson said when they piled into the van was, "WE SAW A PLANE CRASH. THERE WAS A BIG FIRE!!!"
The girls looked to me for confirmation.
Confirmation given, without missing a beat Grace said, "Well, I'm really glad that didn't happen to your plane in Africa."
She is my girl.
All this to say, I know there are families grieving tonight, and my heart is hurting for them. It was an intense thing to experience as a bystander, but I know this is a horrible day for these families.