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Emotional roller coaster

August 5, 2010

It’s been a week. Only one week since the lives of everyone in our squadron, and the entire C-17 community changed forever. This past week has been mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. The emotional roller coaster was particularly hard to handle. When we heard about the accident, Howdy and I drove to the base, thinking it was a practice emergency response drill in preparation for the air show… but we drove to the base anyway, just in case. I will never forget the feeling of my heart simultaneously dropping and jumping into my throat when we realized that it wasn’t a drill… then the emotions were out of control. There was immediate relief and thankfulness that it wasn’t my husband on that plane. Then horror, guilt, and heartbreaking loss when I realized it was the husband of a new friend. A man who just the day before had invited us to go on a camping trip with them in the upcoming weeks… In a future that no longer exists.

As more information was given to us, the same combination of relief, thankfulness, guilt, and loss intensified. Howdy had flown the same plane earlier in the day – he had landed that exact plane less than 2 hours before the accident. He had only just arrived home… hadn’t even taken off his boots yet… when we heard about the crash. Prior to last Wednesday there had never been a fatal C-17 crash. The plane had seemed somehow “safer” than others, and if I ever worried when he flew, that thought was always present in the back of my mind offering comfort and reassurance. Obviously there is always a risk in flying, but I had a sense of security in knowing the plane was so reliable. That false sense of security has been obliterated. When I consider the pilots on that plane, and their combined experience and expertise, it makes it so obvious that it could have been anyone. This was the air show demonstration team – not just anyone can get qualified to fly the demo. In so many ways these men were exceptional.

At the same time, it’s hard to know what to do or say, especially since we have been here such a short time in comparison to everyone else. We desperately want to help without being intrusive. We have found small ways to help – with meals, etc… but it never seems like enough. Of course, nothing can ever be “enough”. There is no way to “fix” the situation. When the dust settles from this, and the rest of us go back to our “normal” lives… it makes me sick to think that those families have no way of doing that. Their “normal” no longer exists… and there’s no way to change it. All we can do is pray for them, let them know they are in our thoughts and hearts, and we are here for them if they ever need anything. In the meantime, while my faith in the plane has been shaken, it serves to remind me where my faith truly lies, and I have to trust that our lives and safety are in God’s hands.

Slideshow from the memorial service

“Lord guard and guide the men who fly…”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2010 12:05 pm

    wow. my heart goes out to you and your journey with grief. as well as those families that will never be the same. i have no advice or smart words. my prayers will include all those touched by this tragedy. we’ll be thinking of you.

  2. Stephanie permalink
    August 5, 2010 6:55 pm

    This story still makes me as sad and sick to my stomach today as it did the day it happened. Prayers for those families and all of you directly dealing with it have been constant. I, too, had that sense of false security about the C-17. My first comment to Andy (after asking if it was Howdy) was “but I thought you said it was difficult to crash your plane?!” This crash has forced me to aknowledge that our husbands are in a dangerous profession. I had gotten used to taking that fact for granted.

    Your final thoughts on this post hit the nail on the head and a very well put. Great post, albeit a very sad topic. Hugs to you….

  3. August 7, 2010 6:46 am

    Rhonda and I offer our condolences to the families and squadron mates; we are profoundly sorry that this tragedy has overtaken you. God’s best to you all in your grieving; may He give you solace, hope and determination to redeem what can be redeemed.

    Severna Park, MD

  4. August 7, 2010 1:41 pm

    I am so sorry you and Howdy have to go through this- and the families of those who did die are in my thoughts and prayers.

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