13 Jan 2015

Newness: when you are missing a person, or a plane

Everyone is asking, "with the technology we have today, how can an object as large as an airplane go missing?".

Sometimes we ask really good questions.

The debate roils around, and on the tele, I hear the interviewer back up the Consultant for Aviation accidents (or something like that), "we can now have real time updates of movements and conditions of the planes can't we?".

Our solutions are a different matter.

Then someone tweets, "do we really need real-time updates?".

Do we? What is real-time? What is real?

They say that grief echoes.

When you experience a loss, it has a way of dragging you back to some earlier loss. Loss is like this huge package, a behemoth, a cloak, a darkness that shrouds over. It takes time to unwrap, to battle, to rumple through and find a way out.

It is of course good that after the Tsunami we have better warning systems and after these missing planes, we may have better aviation standards. But the loss, the loss.

I don't know anyone personally from the Air Asia flight now rusting at the bottom of the sea; but I have lost four - all suddenly. That disappearing airplane, iced, breaking, speeding, tossing ripped me so fast I didn't feel it at first.

I just stood there one Saturday in church and felt breathlessly sad. My four persons whose absence means holes in my life return to my mind. Without warning, the tears came and I join the grief of those whose who suddenly lose a piece of themselves.

And Loss is often what it takes for us to realise what we are made of, what we hold truly dear.

It then dawned on me that I have not written anything much about my four; except for several facebook posts about my brother. If there was anyone I wanted to write about, it would be my parents. I have so much to say: all about their living, their lives. To talk and write of their dying would be a cold exercise requiring me to wield a scalpel to perform a review of events. I cannot do that for they feel still so real to me, living on in my memories and sometimes showing up in my dreams. I doubt those are the events they enjoy me recounting.

"If you feel breathless and a numb sensation..." appear in a chat group, with advice on coughing and breathing to prevent a heart attack. Am I now to hold dear to this little factoid which my father didn't know, broadcast it and improve lives?

Is information and perhaps several plans for increased safety or escape routes the way forward? The last time I traveled, shortly after the MH flight disappeared, my daughter said to me, "come back safely ok?" My losses and the world's have been hers too.

The world mourns and momentarily philosophizes: it's the same old story after all isn't it? We who have mastered and looted from air, soil, sea and space -- yet over our very own lives and souls, we simply cannot precisely ensure security.

Right into this tired thought, old and worn aha moment, something New has come. The story has changed. This philosophy isn't all there is; not since Christmas and Easter. Those two real-life events introduced a new security to us all, if we would have it. It is a security beyond time-space. The old folks call it 'eternal life'. There are dimensions to light, sound and space we don't fully know; but the Bible speaks of a time and space we live within, and one we can eventually be a part of if we believe.

All my four missing persons are secure out there somewhere. I may or may not be telling others to check their hearts, drive safe, or avoid extreme sports. But I will be urging them to choose a security they really don't want to lose.

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
~ W. Wordsworth, Ode:Intimations of Immortality 


  1. "I just stood there one Saturday in church and felt breathlessly sad. My four persons whose absence means holes in my life return to my mind. Without warning, the tears came and I join the grief of those whose who suddenly lose a piece of themselves." That was EXACTLTLY what happened to me when attending the funeral of a peron I barely knew (husband's colleague who died in her early 30s) .....then the loss of my late mum overwhelmed so much that I sobbed uncontrollably.....

    1. Thank you for writing. Grief and loss humanizes us, and makes us tender - if we let it. It is also something we are not well equipped for. Take heart and take care.

    2. thanks for a touching post Jenni. those of us who have suffered loss realize how complex it is...popping up in places we don't expect!

      grief for one person that all of sudden overflows into grief for others...it is so messy. personally, i like things that are nice and neat. maybe that's just one more reason i don't like dealing with grief of any kind.

      nice to hear from you again jenni:)

    3. Dear Martha! so good to hear from you. I find grief such a strange mystery that reminds us of both our mortaility and our powerlessness in the face of some realities. Bless your heart dear.


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