Well…my journey is about to begin. I am sitting in the Westin hotel in Detroit and I will get on the trans-atlantic flight to Tokyo tomorrow and then from Tokyo to Beijing in the early afternoon (Tokyo time!!) I lose 12 hours going over, so I will get there on the 11th around 9pm Beijing time! Long darn trip!
Leaving the airport? Yeah….not good. Mom started crying…then I started crying…then Ben started Crying? Aghhh…I felt like my heart was being ripped right out of my body. I knew it would be hard to leave everyone, and it was that and more. But I have a bit more fear in me today than I had a few days ago and I know that It made my departure a bit harder on both my mom and me because of all that has happened in the last 24 hours.
I don't ever want to forget this experience, the good and the bad, so I'll tell the story as it happened. It all started in Monday am. The phone rang around 7:45AM. Not weird I thought….must be mom calling to check in from Cleveland after her early morning departure from the Dubois airport. When I said hello, I could tell that this was not your basic check in? She said – Hi there…I’m still in DuBois. And then she paused….for what seemed too long…and said….”our plane had some trouble and we had to crash land!” At that, she started to cry and as much as she was on the phone, so I obviously could not see her, I could feel her voice and hands shaking as she revealed the story of her morning.
The flight took off at 6am from the small commuter airport in DuBois, PA. Just a few miles from her home. We decided a few days before, that the increased cost of taking the commuter to the larger airport vice driving was a small price to pay so that mom would not have to drive on the dangerous highway for 2.5 hours in order to get to Pittsburgh so early in the AM. On a normal day, this would stand true and would still have been the best plan of attack to get her to Jacksonville. But maybe not this day?
Her story went like this: The small plane left the runway on time with 9 passengers on board. They first headed to the small neighboring airport in Franklin to pick up a few more passengers and then their destination was Cleveland Ohio, where mom would get her final fight to Jacksonville. I was to pick her up at 11:45am.
Well…the plane circled Franklin for a while, and the pilot said to the passengers, “There has been an emergency and we will need to land back at the DuBois airport." Mom said that she didn’t even feel nervous at that point…just kind of mad that she may night make her connecting flight in Cleveland. We had planned the day to get mom acquainted with Amelia Island where she would stay with my three little men while I traveled to China the following day.
Well….after passing over the DuBois airport a few times, the pilot lets the passengers know that the landing gear is not working, they are going to dump their fuel and they need to make a landing without wheels? Yeah? No joke! He instructed all the passengers to head to the back of the plane, strap in and hold tight to the seat in front of them. Mom was the front most person in the back of the plane. So she could see everything that the pilot was doing to land the plane as safe as possible with the situation as it was. She said he just kept pumping his arms front and back….moving this lever with everything he was worth. But to no avail….the plane crash landed, no wheels, metal scraping, the smell of something burning…and then silence. The pilot turned off the engine to further slow down the plane….and all of a sudden…they just stopped. …The back end of the plane up in the air and the nose drug into the ground. But no matter - THEY STOPPED! Thank God they stopped.
Everyone was ok…the plane was not. And from there the event of “surviving a crash landing” began for my mom and the 9 other passengers. Ambulances (that were not needed) were all over the runway and fire trucks took their places, ready for any explosions caused by burning fuel. Media people were all over and hosptials were on alert in case the outcome had not been so successful? Aghhh....The passengers were asked to evacuate the plane and head to the terminal. Here, they were detained for hours. Not allowed to talk to anyone but each other, unsure if they would be able to get where each person needed to be. Not sure that they would get their bags back, and very very shaken up.
They were questioned by officials, news reporters and more. They were asked to sign many documents releasing the airline from responsibility for future claims of injury. Etc. etc.
I finally hear from my mom that they are going to get their bags back and that the 9 passengers of this flight are going to be flown on another plane to Cleveland and believe it or not….all 9 of them were getting on that plane and continuing their trips to their final destination?
Yikes….maybe bit more brave than I would be? Not sure….but all mom wanted was to be here for the kids while I went to get josh and she said that the chance it would happen again were so slim that she was getting on that plane!!! And of course the chanced that it would happen in the first place were equally as slim? Yeah…so she was also wanting to hit the store for a lottery ticket as soon as she got here.
The great news was that she was safe and alive and just all around OK! The bad news was that both of us – my mom and myself – were extremely emotional and deflated by this event. The plan that we put in place to get our baby josh…that seemed so simple….was now not as simple as we had planned? Risks were being taken, bad things could happen? She was still very shaken when she got to us that same night. Could I do this? Could I take this trip to get our little boy? I knew I wanted and needed to, but It felt like there was a huge wall in the way of my journey now that I didn’t know how to get rid of.
I was worried that mom might not be ok once she truly started to remember and take in what happened. I was worried that crazy, and unpredictable things might happen to me or to her, or to the kids…..the crazy thoughts went on and on. Tears were coming so quickly for what seemed no good reason.
But truly – I am blessed. Alyssa knew that this whole event had changed everything in our minds…so she put her 4 month old baby on a plane this morning and came to Florida to help my mom….my brother is driving down to Florida tomorrow to add more people to the pot. Every one of us feels a bit scared – not as safe and sure as we were a few days ago. So the general consensus is that we need to stick together, work together and take care of these kids so I can get little Josh home with us without worry and without incident!!
One event can do so many things. Scare you to a point of irrational thoughts, bring a family together in crisis, open up hearts and prove what family is all about. I love you mom, Alyssa, Brian, Dorian….all of you…so much right now that I can’t “not” cry thinking about it. What you have done, gone through and are doing for my family – our family – is forever engrained in my heart! And to my little men….Wow….someday I will tell you about how many times I almost got sick tonight as I walked farther and farther away from you to get on my flight. Oh how I love you!
Tomorrow AM I am off for the next part of this journey and I’ll keep posting as much as I can! As much as time, and resources will allow me! Josh, buddy, we are coming! And as I told Aunt Shelli last night – when we celebrate your 21st birthday….the whole family is going to rehash this whole crazy time…over many drinks….and you can laugh so hard at the crazy people that you fell into in this life of yours!! We love you already little guy…not long now!!
Gotcha day is scheduled for Monday the 15th~!~ But I do hope to write before then! Over and our for now!