About the pilot. Depressed? Stressed? Crazy? Evil? Someone to be pitied? A victim – or a psychopath? A suicide – or a massacre?
About his parents. Mourning with the other families. Travelling with them to the site. Shared sympathy. A fault in the aircraft? A freak accident? “He did his best to save them. We’re all in the same situation.”
But then, the discovery.
Two people are separated from the group of mourners. Their grief takes a whole new turn.
The black box speaks. Voices, crackling like a death rattle.
The captain: banging on a locked door.
The rasp of breathing in the cockpit: level, measured, apparently normal.
The intercom: please confirm your location. Please change your flight trajectory. Please respond.
Eight minutes of slow descent. Snowflakes, wheeling round the mountain. The hum of the engine. The rustle of papers.
The clatter of the overhead locker. Mind your head!
The chink of duty free.
Crying children. Mothers, cooing over their babies. How old? Just seven months. She’ll be a heart breaker.
Teenagers, jostling in the aisles. Chattering with excitement at the thought of going home.
Businessmen, tapping on their laptops. Next week’s deadline. A busy month ahead.
And then, the final moments –
life speeded up.
the screams of the passengers.
the cliffs, rushing towards them.
eternity distilled into two minutes.
Too terrible to imagine. And yet – impossible not to think.
If it was me. Cradling my baby. Or buried in my husband’s lap.
Praying. Catch me Lord. This – is it. And everything depends on your promises. Everything rests on this.
Did you die? Did you go where we’re going? Were you raised? And will you take me home?
Sometimes it takes the unthinkable to make us consider the inevitable. It’s our worst fears that uncover our deepest needs. But in these fires the dross is burnt away and we face the question: What ultimately matters? What still matters, even on flight 9525?
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”
— John 11:25