"So I was just over here minding my business and…"
I’ve never liked flying. Well, for as long as I can remember anyway.
I have had way too many interesting experiences on planes and with airports to. Between food poisoning, a seat that wouldn’t stay up, epic turbulence, and being unable to land due to poor visibility, I have seen it ALL.
I like to travel. When I can afford it. I like Duty Free, last minute meals at the airport, flagging cabs down with too many shopping bags in my hands, and sitting alone at trendy bars in strange cities.
The day it was confirmed that Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 had disappeared, I was sitting at the Abuja Airport waiting to fly back to Lagos. I was scared but only a tiny bit. I think I was too preoccupied with my own emotional mess at the time to truly be fearful. I slept all the way to Lagos.
Two years ago, shortly after the Dana Air crash, I had to be in DC for a wedding. Cue EPIC turbulence. On the return leg, as we were about to land in Lagos, I was visibly disturbed. As I like to be as comfortable as possible, I try to sit on the exit row. A member of the cabin crew, who sat across from me for landing, commented as soon touched ground that he was actually quite concerned watching my facial expressions and my obvious anxiety. He suggested that I should never sit on an exit row and by a window if I was so scared of flying. I explained that it really wasn’t THAT bad as I was uncharacteristically anxious due to the recent mishap. Also, plane mishaps in Nigeria had mostly happened on takeoff or landing.
Basically, I’m usually fine during the flight (except for this one time on a late flight from DC to London where the turbulence was so bad that the pilot had to ask the cabin crew to sit down for about an hour. Meanwhile, my brothers were passed out beside me. I prayed so hard that day y’all)
But takeoff and landing? Nah. Nope. I just can’t. Palpitations galore. As in, my stomach knots up, I often can’t breathe….man, just know that it’s God that gets me through it each time.
Yesterday evening, I read the stories of the people on Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 that was blown out of the sky. I sat at my desk and cried. There were so many stories of hope, of love, of family. Many times, that is why we travel. Because we care – about making a difference to someone, to some thing, some cause, even sometimes, just plainly, simply, to better ourselves.
Before I had the chance to be done crying, the news of TransAsia Airways flight GE222 crash in Taiwan filtered in. I shut my laptop, got in my car, and decided I would rather sit silently in traffic heading home, than read any more news.
So today, when I heard of the initial disappearance, and now confirmed crash, of Air Algérie flight AH5017, I gave up.
For the first time in my adult life, I am genuinely, thoroughly, and completely afraid of getting on a plane any time soon. I have a dermatologist appointment in Abuja that may have to wait. I have planned leave in two weeks and will probably spend the period between now and then, praying as hard as I can. Yes, I am a Christian. I believe in life after death. So, I am handing my fear over to God and praying that destruction, calamity, death stay far away from me, my family and all those dear to me.
I pray that the families of all those lost are comforted. That their grief does not overwhelm them, that they somehow see the good memories through their pain.
I pray for myself too. That I am never too afraid to fly – literally and otherwise – that I miss out on what God has in store for me, whether it be in this life or the next.
May God keep us all.
*Image culled from Mexico Today*