Death in itself is nothing to fear. We know it will happen, and we know it has to happen, for otherwise the world would become even more crowded. It is the time and the manner of death that we fear.
Regarding the latter, lies are being told every day. “He was dead instantly”, “it happened so quickly, she didn’t even realize what was going on”, “they didn’t feel any pain” two men misinform the bereaved family across the door sill before they return to their sedan to work down the list with eight remaining names and addresses scattered throughout the state like cow dung on a meadow, wondering where to stop for lunch.
A Boeing 777 working hard on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur fell from the sky over Ukraine on 17 July 2014. Everyone on board died.
The plane was shot down, which happens surprisingly often to unsuspecting civilian aircraft. It was nothing personal against Malaysia Airlines or anyone on board. Quite the contrary, it was one of these accidents bound to happen when a bunch of separatist rebels get new a weapons system and nobody volunteers to read the thick manual. Like when you got that air gun for your 14th birthday, or – for my American readers – the AR-15 assault rifle for your 8th.
Once again, some airline dude or the coroner or a priest is going to tell the families that their disappeared sons and moms “didn’t feel a thing”. Except that this time we know it’s not true. Looking at these photos from the crash site, I can see a lot of items looking better preserved than in most children’s bedrooms. These books aren’t bent or burnt, these clothes aren’t torn or seared.
If books don’t burn and teddy bears don’t bleed to death, then at least some of the passengers must have survived the impact of the missile as well. This has always been my worst fear when flying: the scenario of a disintegrating plane and me, still conscious, falling for several minutes, towards certain and brutal death, with no way to stop or shorten the suffering. Plus hundreds of other people in the air, all screaming or texting on their phones as they race towards potato fields and power lines. Plop – plop – plop, three hundred times.
After seeing these photos, I know my fear was justified. I will make it a point to prefer trains and boats on my future travels. Or maybe planes should be equipped with extra explosives to ensure a sudden and truly painless death.