There is very little in life that can prepare us for bad news. The shock of circumstances, events, even death – pinpoint the realities of life. One moment we’re doing the normal things we do – every day stuff that I try to not take for granted – and then WHAM! it hits you, something unexpected and out of the blue – life changing. And before you know it, you find yourself sitting on the kitchen floor ignoring the work you were doing, worried for your friends, your husband, yourself…Dazed, slightly lost, trying to not cry and think of the worst, and resisting the overwhelming urge to call your friends in the squadron – other military wives probably doing the exact same thing as me-, on the off chance that their husband was the one who died.
Nothing about this life, this military life, is easy.
Yesterday our squadron lost an aircraft, the same type that the Yank flies. This is something that no one can ever prepare for, but is a tough reality in this line of work. I don’t know the circumstances surrounding the mishap, I’m not even sure of everyone who was on the aircraft – But I’m grieving for our squadron’s loss, for the families of those involved. The skid community is a small one, and the Huey contingent even smaller – I am hurting for my friends, my husband and myself.
After our squadron’s tenure in Afghanistan last year and the loss of life and aircraft while on deployment, I was well aware of what could happen in combat. We all were. But the last thing any of us ever wants to think about, is the loss of an aircraft during stateside training. I guess that part of me – the part that believes N will be “safe” while flying in the US, is gone. We’ve gone through crashes before, have lost friends – but this hits very close to home.
I’m still in shock, angry, still a bit numb – I found out via Facebook and a link to CNN’s news headline about the crash. I’m mad that the news media had helicopters taking video of the rescue and recovery, that the LA Times published their story less than 2 hours after the incident, and even more upset that the local news station had video crews waiting at a nearby Hospital, filming three survivors as they were rushed into the Emergency Room. Shame on them. I know that the public has a right to know, and I’m all for freedom of the press – but seriously?!? Have you no respect? Where do we draw the line? What is too far, and what are people willing to sacrifice in pursuit of breaking news? What if it was your Husband, Father, Son, Brother – your Marine?
I guarantee that I’m not the only squadron spouse who learned of this crash through vague media reports. And that makes me really sad, upset, and angry.
What have we lost in the process?
I felt physically ill for a large part of yesterday afternoon -I had a horrible suspicion that our squadron was involved, because none of my fellow squadron wives were writing anything (ironically) on their Facebook profiles…yes, the land of FB is an amazing place, full of information based on what people don’t say….it was only friends or former squadron spouses who were posting information about the crash. For the rest of us, it was eerily silent. I had flashbacks to July 2010 on that fateful Thursday – we all held our breath, waiting for any information, crickets on FB, but knowing that something horrible had happened overseas. And it had.
For a while yesterday, I couldn’t reach my husband, and I was trying not to panic while second guessing if he was on the flight schedule or not. I didn’t tell him, I love you when he walked out the door. Eventually a friend texted me that her husband had seen N after the crash -my knees buckled from relief.
I was still hesitant to contact my Huey squadron spouse friends, not knowing who was piloting the aircraft or who the crew chiefs were, or what their status was – so I reached out to a few other friends. I drank too much, tried to zone out to mindless TV, talked to my sister and a few former squadron spouses….and just waited….waited for the Yank to come home.
He and I have never had to go through a squadron death like this one together…. This is new experience for us both – I’m so sad for him, for everyone in the unit, for a few friends in particular, and I’m thinking of my fellow squadron wives. N was miserable, smoked way too many cigarettes, couldn’t sleep and there’s not anything I can do to make him feel better. It’s a pretty helpless and hopeless place to be.
So now, we just stay put, wonder, and (try not to) worry. We are still waiting for official word from the squadron’s command and our Family Readiness Officer. Until then, I’m not really sure.
I just don’t know anymore.