Shame on you & thoughts

I went to the KC Airshow today and took Lido.

A pilot died.

I, along with hundreds of people, watched as the pilot, Bryan Jensen, could not pull out of an aerobatic maneuver, crashed and was killed instantly. I was standing on the tarmac watching as I held my son. The moment I knew the pilot was not pulling out, I grabbed his head and buried him into my shoulder which meant I stood there and watched. There was a gasp of the crowd followed by complete silence.

I started shaking, taking deep breaths so as to not faint and slowly made my way over to the nearest chair. The nearest chair brought me to two Air Force pilots and I asked them if I could sit down, they were visibly shaken as well. I sat for quite a while before making it back over to friends and fellow pilots at the show. As I made my way to their tent, a lot of people were leaving but as I glanced up, I couldn’t quite believe the amount of people standing taking pictures, allowing their children to stand there and watch. I can give people some leeway because I know there was no way I could go to my car and leave…I still needed to throw up. But to take pictures?

This is a person. Their family and friends were there. Their aviation family was there. Put your fucking cameras away and go home.

This is a person.

*****

A friend of Doug’s was there. A pilot who recently moved here to fly. He was at Hillsboro when Doug died. He worked with Doug. Before I could get to him, another person, Johnny Rowlands, came up to me to ask if I was okay and let me cry on his shoulder. It all was just too close to home. To, a month to the day close to home. After I composed myself I went up to my friend, Doug’s friend, he gave me a hug I really needed and then called his wife to say he loved her.

That’s what all of you people taking pictures should have been doing. You just saw how life can be whisked away in a moment – literally right before your eyes. Shame on you.

*****

Fuck.

*****

What I saw today is so close to what happened to Doug…the end portion. The falling straight down and impacting the ground and an explosion. I didn’t see Doug’s crash but this would have been similar. No debris trail. Just down.

It was a couple months after Doug’s crash when I started having panic attacks and would be unable to walk or stand up. I would get ‘glimpses’ of the crash on my way up the stairs and would have to sit down and eventually crawl my way to my bed and wait for it to pass. I’m wondering what this will do.

*****

I was asked not too long ago, in preparing to be interviewed by an aviation magazine, why I would continue to be a part of the very community that ‘took’ my husband’s life. Today, as I was talking to Johnny, he asked me if I was sure I wanted to be a part of all of this – to continue to be in this aviation world. We had talked about this a year ago when I first met him. A long talk. A nice heart to heart. It’s a question that obviously pops up over and over.

After today, after seeing a pilot’s life end in front of my eyes, of being reminded of my own tragedy in a most profound way, I still say I will be in this aviation community, this family, as long as I live.

Why?

Because it is where dreams soar.

It is where, on your first solo, you scream in the cockpit “I’m flying this thing by myself!!!!”

It is where freedom lives, where you can taste it, smell it, feel it.

It is where I could sit and completely relax and be at complete awe and only catch a glimpse of what Doug had every day.

I stay

because life is risk.

Life could end at any given moment. So why not do something with it?

*****

I’m not a pilot. I’ve only been able to catch glimpses of the sheer awesomeness that pilots must feel. But the taste that I’ve had, I will continue to have so I will not run away. Again, life is risk and these pilots understand that there is risk. There will always be risk. In my case, the risk that I take is seeing something like what happened today, or being constantly reminded of Doug’s crash every time I work on foundation stuff, or seeing my husband’s reflection in my son, or being asked if Daddy has landed his helicopter yet…my risk is mental. I’m willing to risk it. I’m willing to help others achieve their dream because I love the passion that comes out of living a dream.

So I’m not going anywhere.

*****

It has been 1 year and 11 months to the day where I have felt my life being ripped from me. My existence gone. My future ended. My heart, my soul, goes out to Bryan’s family and friends and fellow pilots and my thoughts will be with them as they go through this rollercoaster of emotions. I don’t fear for them because aviators are a resilient bunch, as they should be. I hope that they keep, very close to their heart and on the surface, the reason why they became pilots –  it is a shared reason. And I’m sure Bryan, though I don’t know him, would want them to keep flying. My love goes out to them.

*****

Now go… and remember that life is short. You better live the fuck out of it!

 

 

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Explore posts in the same categories: Flying Dodo, Widowhood

3 Comments on “Shame on you & thoughts”

  1. molly shaw Says:

    I got the call from Mom today minutes after it happened. I have been teary all day. Mom and I were just sitting in her bed talking about the accident. She heard Johnny say something to the affect of “this isn’t good, something isn’t right” I said had I seen this accident I would have nightmares for years….thats when she brought up the kids that were watching. I don’t even know what to say. Its just so sad and heartbreaking.

    • javagirl Says:

      I agree Molly. It is quite heartbreaking. I think though that seeing how the other pilots can get out there and do what they love to do even after this tragedy, shows us something incredible. Believe me though, I’ve been crying off and on – crying is much needed by all.

  2. sharon Says:

    I love you babe. This is tough, and I’m so glad you wrote about it. Your feelings are so genuine and strong and helpful to others.


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