My Dearest

My Dearest Husband,

Yesterday started the ‘month countdown’ to the 2 year mark of your death. I still, to a certain degree, pay attention to the markers prior to your death. Well, maybe not to a certain degree – I completely pay attention to them. Two years ago we were at the Hillsboro Air Show, standing out on the tarmac, you holding Lido pointing at the airplanes and jets flying overhead capturing memories with your son. Me holding my camera pointing it towards those flying, capturing their moments in the air, capturing your moments with your son. It would be a month later that you were gone.

I’ll save my thoughts regarding this second year for a later time because right now, I want to talk to you about what happened yesterday. I want to talk to you about flying. I want to talk to you about what it means to be a pilot.

I posted yesterday about this mainly, in all honesty because I didn’t have anyone to come home to talk to, to cry with, to hold me, to reassure me. Writing is my outlet. My own way of filling that gap. My computer has become my “Wilson”. In order to process what I saw I needed to write. I, especially needed to write about the passion that comes from flying, from being a pilot. It is hard to tap into that since I am not a pilot but having pursued this dream with you, like I said yesterday, I’ve tasted only a small portion of that passion through you. I saw it in your eyes, felt it in your touch, heard it in your voice.

The pilot that died yesterday at the airshow had been doing this for many many years. He had over 23,000 hours. Something just went wrong. Again, I don’t know him but what I’ve heard is his passion was incredible and started at an early age. How wonderful is that? I see you, my darling husband, and your passion that started, really started, the moment you stepped into a helicopter – a Christmas gift from me. In that brief moment, I saw you change before my eyes. You stood a little straighter, spoke differently, had this added sparkle to your eyes. To see this in anyone is a special kind of gift. To share with thousands, like Bryan did,  like his fellow friends do at these airshows is a very great gift to all of us. I think all of us non-pilots have a bit of a spring in our step, a lightness to us, after watching passion fly before us.

With all of that, and I’m saying again, comes risk. It isn’t risk though, that stays in the forefront of a pilots mind – or the mind of those surrounding them. Risk is understood and when a tragedy strikes such as this one, well, I’m not sure that there are words to encompass each and every feeling that comes up. I can not imagine what the other pilots are feeling or thinking. If they are running solely on adrenaline right now, which I’m sure they are, or a need to still perform because ‘damn it – I’m a pilot’, or simply the fact that this is what they do. It really doesn’t matter what the reason is, it is amazing, the courage they have. It speaks volumes of pilots. All pilots.

Quite often I wonder how you would respond if I could ask you whether or not you felt that it was all worth it, if you would do it again, knowing you would die. I think that you would say that it wouldn’t be worth it, that you would give it all up to just be with me, with your son. I can hear you telling me this. I can also hear the doubt in your voice. I can hear the longing you would have. I can hear how you would not be complete. I think in the end, after hearing yourself, you would agree with me…it was worth it. It was worth it because you showed me so much, I learned so much from you. Our son will really know because of you, what it means to follow a dream and live it. He will know the risk. It was worth it because of who you became. You gave to so many people on many levels and maybe that was your purpose in your short life. If I could, would I want it all to be erased and you by my side? Yes…but I can’t change anything. Being almost 2 years out from the day you died, learning from other widows, seeing how life works on a very personal level…I love you with all of my heart, my soul –  but would you be happy? Would those around us have changed in the ways they have because of your death? Would I be the person I am today? Would your son? Believe me, everyone, there really is nothing more I could wish for than having Doug by my side and you may not understand any of this – I guess I want to look at the good, the opportunity of what can be…Bryan, the pilot who died yesterday, has given so much. Imagine how many lives have been touched by him…

And this gets me to something that I’ve been thinking about all night and most of this morning…the kids that saw this crash take place. Yes, I berated those taking video and allowing their children to walk up to the fence and watch, continue watching the wreckage. I’d like to commend those there, which I’m sure were in greater numbers than I made it out to be with my last post (forgive me), that held their children, walked them out, cried with them. Worried about how this would affect them. Worried about what to say to them…how to explain it all to them. How ever you handle this, remember the passion for flying that was a part of every fiber of this pilot. Let your children speak in their own words or actions. Reassure them. Allow them to be sad and to process all of this in their own time. Even though I tried shielding my son from seeing the actual crash, he knows what happened. He is almost three and is processing all of this in his own way. It is hard for me to see him playing with his helicopter and airplane this morning and they both ‘crashed’ in his playing. I wasn’t sure what to say but I decided I wouldn’t say anything. He is still processing all of it. You may not do the same or feel the same but for my son, for me, this is the process. Just the other day he asked when Daddy would land his helicopter from the sky…I’ve always told him that his Daddy is in the sky and watches over us…I wonder if he will ask different questions now. I do know though and this may or may not help parents out there, that I will once again make every effort to not pass on my grief, my emotions to him. They process differently from us. They see our pain but our pain does not have to be theirs. Our pain is ours but what we can pass onto our children in any time of tragedy is that it is okay to cry, to feel, to be angry, to hurt, to laugh…To help them to understand their own grief and sadness. That it is okay. You have an opportunity here with your children. Talk to them. Show them how to live life to the fullest. Show them the good that comes from tragedy. It doesn’t have to be world changing…just changing.

My dearest husband, there isn’t a moment that goes by without me thinking of you. I know that you would have given me one of your big, squeeze the breath out of you, hugs yesterday. This morning when I woke up, I felt a similar feeling that I felt upon waking up the morning after you died…the ‘what the hell is the world still doing here’ feeling. The ‘why in the hell is the sun still shining’…feeling. Believe me, it was more muted this morning but it was there. Unfortunately, there is so much here right now, those familiar feelings. All of this has certainly brought to surface, albeit in a muted form, each and every one of the feelings I had when you died. Part of me wants to go to the pilot’s family and friends and tell them that it all gets easier – but I think that they would tell me ‘We know’. After all, they’ve been in this aviation family far longer than I have, than you were. I’m sure that each and every one of them has suffered a loss of another pilot. I’m sure that I could probably learn a lot from them – from their resiliency. I think I’ve learned a lot so far even this morning – knowing that they are out there – flying. Talk about courage.

Again, my heart and my soul goes out to each and every one of them. They amaze me.

Doug – I love you and thank you. Thank you for giving me the gift of you, the gift of your passion.

Your loving wife,

In this life and the next.

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