Along for the ride:

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Destination Unknown...Wang Lin Jia and Ye Meng Yuan


The oleander bush, high as a house, was mine alone this morning. Early sun-angle described petals and their shadows, in unlikely perfection. Not one white bloom, amongst thousands, marred or shadowed.
Yesterday, half a world away, two sixteen year old girls were on a life-enriching journey towards San Francisco. Were they sharing secrets and excitement, as girls do? Did they giggle together about boys?
Just as we were looking at Impressionist paintings, at the Legion of Honor Museum yesterday, congratulating ourselves for beating traffic over the Golden Gate Bridge, two lives ended on the tarmac of the airport.
Replete with pastel rivers and sailboats, we ordered "Theophile" quiche in the museum cafe.  Waiters in red and white striped retro-aprons and starched shirts. What were the girls parents doing at that moment, still oblivious to the news that would rock their worlds?
Startled by the staccato car radio account of potentially immense human anguish happening so close by; grasping at positive word-images of walk-away survivors. Empathy choking my throat, making it hard to speak and translate what I was hearing on the drive home. "It could have been so much worse?" & "Only two deaths".
Today, hearing that the two victims were young women on the threshold of their adult lives broke my heart. No-one wants anyone to suffer or die, but sometimes we can rationalize about a life well lived, or an inescapable destiny. There is something so harsh about a plane crash, survived by so many, but not those two.
The journey of those parents, now compelled to rush towards a nightmare from which there's no awakening; suspended for hours in a similar plane; landing under still, blue skies. Members of a newly formed, exclusive club of bereavement.
Could it have been any worse? Not for them.

13 comments:

  1. The sheer tragedy behind 'only'.

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    1. Helen, it makes it seem even more unfair, in so many ways.

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  2. How devastating...and thank you for writing so poignantly here.

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  3. Beautifully written. My heart goes out to their poor parents.

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    1. Provence, not much we can do but let their names be spoken and remembered, like petals on the breeze, taking their beauty with them.

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  4. Such a tragedy. The true story of what happened is still unfolding, and it's not a good one. Pilot error...what a terrible conclusion.

    My heart goes out to the families of the two girls, and to the people paralyzed. Hope there are chances of recovery.

    You have written a beautiful piece here. The juxtaposition of your pleasure and the pain of tragedy is very moving.

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  5. Jean, We were in a bubble. We had been out of touch with the world for a couple of days. No phones or radio or TV. We passed, geographically within a dozen miles, having chosen the quieter 280 freeway home down the crest of the Peninsula. If we'd looked across, we'd have had a birds-eye view of the airport and the Bay, in places. When I turned the radio back on the accident was only a couple of hours old. It was like traveling from one universe to another.
    Seafarers have always prayed "Save our Souls". The flying community uses "Souls on Board" as well. Whatever the beliefs of the parents. I hope they find peace after this.

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  6. Heartbreaking! I've flown into San Francisco many times and I always hold my breath when the plane descends low over the water before reaching the runway.

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  7. Stephen, I always think they come in quite high and wonder how they're going to get down to runway level. They certainly wait until they're well over the tarmac before descending.

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  8. What a horrible tragedy :( Beautiful post albeit so sad.
    On my last flight a man suffered heart attack and died despite another passenger's pretty heroic 25min CPR until we emergency landed.
    I fly a lot this year and even though it's supposed to get easier each time and I have never been a nervous flier, it doesn't.

    I hope whatever happened on that plane is well understood and prevented from happening again.

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  9. Yes, I agree with everyone else - beautifully written, and tragically sad.

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  10. Both these died not because of pilot error or being run over by a fire truck. They dies because they elected not to wear their seat belts, ignoring the cabin staff and thereby exponentially increasing the risk to their safety (and not just theirs but everyone else in the cabin as well).

    Yes it is sad, but being stupid and not fastening your seat belt is no ones fault but your own.

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