A Sickening Shift

I’ve been up for a while. The coffee pot is whirring away, KPBS is streaming on the computer, compression socks are on, and I’m sitting at my kitchen table, typing on my computer drinking coffee. I choose the smiling snowman mug, because, well, it’s the most cheerful cup in our cabinet and suggests some rudimentary form of normalcy. Shit news – helicopter crashes, bad things happening to our friends, worrying times – always leave me sleepless. I drink way too much coffee and diet coke, and at this rate the ulcer that I’m predicting to hit at 40, will likely make its appearance at 35.

I think most people know the basics – a helicopter collision in the Yuma desert have left seven Marines tragically killed.

I don’t know what happened or how – or why. In difficult times with crap news, I think we all search for answers. And I think it’s pretty normal to conclude that there are things we will never understand, no matter how much time passes.

West Coast Skids have had a bad run lately – the news just reported five training crashes this last year alone (maybe that includes an F-18 incident?). That seems pretty high, but perhaps I’ve just lost count. Sad that one incident after another have blended together, tragic that the loss of lives is growing. In the past few years nearly every squadron on Pendleton’s Flight Line has been affected, and we all feel the hurt. It’s a smaller, tight-knit community, within an already small Marine Corps.

Yesterday morning I heard the news with the Yank, as reported on CNN. I’ve never felt so horribly awake – it’s the same with every incident. One moment Life seems normal, we’re drinking coffee and chatting about our day, and the next – BAM! – a sudden, sickening shift. The world tilts and what’s important clicks uncomfortably into focus. It’s indescribable, really, and I feared for my friends and USMC family. Photoshop projects, Death Valley picture editing, worrying about clean running socks – immediately pushed to the back-burner of my brain.

I wanted to text my friends, check-in with everyone and ensure that my book club group (the best spouses ever! – from all different units) were okay – but the fear that one of them could have been affected, prevented me from doing so. It’s a BAD feeling – we want to make sure our friends are okay, but we’re too terrified to find out the truth if they aren’t.

Instead I texted another friend whose husband I knew wasn’t flying, and was therefore safe. One-by-one we pieced together what we knew – who could have been on the flight schedule, who we had heard from, and the horrible unknowns. By 7:45 am, most of our book club group were accounted for, and we had a general idea of which unit was involved. Facebook had gone quiet – as it oftentimes does when something hits close to home. Throughout the day, people held their collective breaths.

We still are.

Today I’m mourning the loss of lives – husbands, fathers, sons, friends. Some are known, others unknown. They are not anonymous though, and I grieve with N and our USMC family.

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Last week I created this image for my first Photoshop Project. It was designed with a different context in mind – but I think this recent crash can definitely apply.

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