Aborted

Our flight home from Manila had two aborted landings before being diverted to a neighboring island.

It didn’t help that my seat mate kept on praying audibly; alternately clasping her hands in prayer or putting her hand to her heart.  When she lifted both her hands to beseech a higher power, that’s when I decided I was going to transfer seats.  Good thing the row of seats across was empty.

I wasn’t scared or anything but her demeanor affected me.  I don’t know if she was afraid but whatever she was feeling was palpable and it was not positive and it was very disturbing.

It was a very bumpy descent.  I was hoping the clouds would clear but the landing gear was down and still I could not see the ground.  I had never been in a flight with an aborted landing so I did not expect one.  I did worry if we would land.  15 minutes after the gears came down and we still had not landed, I knew something was wrong.  The pilot comes on and announces that we had aborted a landing due to bad weather.  We were going for another try.  It was very bumpy and I was starting to feel nauseous.  O, me and eldest son were seated separately.  

If we were going to crash, I would be away from them.  I looked at the back of O’s head.  I turned to the row behind me to look at eldest son.  Oh well, if it’s our time, it’s our time.  I settled back in my seat and tried to ignore my praying seat mate.  A thought did occur to me that dying would not be so bad but this air turbulence was bad.  And there was no discomfort bag in my seat pocket.  I quickly rummaged through my bag for anything that I could puke in.  That’s the thing I don’t like.  You’re going to crash and you have to go through this nauseating feeling.  Yuck.

The second try was not going well.  The clouds were still thick even as I heard the landing gears deploy a second time.  Down, down we went.  Still no sight of the ground.  Suddenly I felt the nose of the plane go up.  Aah, the plane was climbing.  Another aborted landing.

I was thinking we were probably going to land in another airport.  I wondered which city.  I wondered if the airline would give us free hotel stays.  I debated whether to take the bus home or take another flight from the diverted landing.

Then the pilot comes on again to announce the second aborted landing due to very bad weather and that we would be diverted to Cebu City (a city 20minutes away by plane from home).  As we climbed up to cruising speed, I could see the clouds disappearing.  I took the opportunity to transfer.  I felt so much better away from my seat mate.

As we landed in clear Cebu, the atmosphere surprisingly was not one of panic.  The pilot announces that we would be refueling before going back home when the weather clears.  I thought they would let us deplane, but no, we stayed onboard.  Everyone started to get up to use the bathroom.  Once that was out of the way, the atmosphere was quite lively.  Most everyone was joking.  Strangers started to talk to each other.  Well except for the praying seat mate.  I did not attempt to talk to her and she didn’t attempt to engage other people in conversation.

Water was passed around – certainly helped the mood.  4 people requested to deplane and not continue on to our original destination.  They were accommodated.  There were good natured jokes about them wanting to visit the casino in Cebu City.  

After 30minutes or so, the plane was done with refueling and we were back on the air.  This time around, the landing was good.  Visibility 8km.  I could clearly see the ground.  I knew we would be landing soon.

That was a very interesting flight.  There was actually no panic on my part.  In fact, I was quite ready to go while we were on a roller coaster ride during our descent but I guess it’s not my time.  

I am glad that our pilot had our safety in mind when he decided to abort the landing.  Other passengers were telling the story of how another airline had 3 aborted landings before landing on the 4th try.  Some were applauding the fact that the pilot of the other airline was very gung-ho but hearing them compare the two airlines, I am glad I am with the airline I chose.  I would rather the hassle of a delay when our safety is on the table than putting lives at risk just to keep a schedule.

When Death is Near

In all the people I have seen a few weeks before their death, all of them were losing weight.  Some were almost skeletal.  Several needed frequent blood transfusions.

Dare I deduce that when a sick person starts losing weight, that his time is near?  Add to that if his red blood cells start to drop then maybe it”ll be within the month?

My cousin died this afternoon.  My mom’s hospital mate.  They were admitted within a few weeks of each other.  I was sad when I heard the news.  I was quiet for most of the afternoon and evening.  Although her husband was upbeat last Sunday, saying her “something” balance had been restored, I knew hers was a losing case when a friend mentioned that cousin had lost a lot of weight and that her collarbone was now very prominent.  But cousin fought on.  She spent most of her days in the hospital, in and out of the ER and the ICU.

I wouldn’t go her route.  I will not fight.  God, I hope this will be the last of the bad news.

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Death and Letting Go

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I smile as I look at this photo.  My mom is lovely.

It’s been 6 months since my mother passed on to the next life peacefully.  There is no grief, not even in the days immediately after death.  What there is is some sadness and wistfulness.  My mother had a good death.  She had time to prepare.  We had time to prepare.  In the end we did not fight the inevitable.

My father is also gone.  His was a sudden death.  And yet there too was no grief.  A deeper sadness than now but eventually, life did go on.

Last night, I was reading “Endless Knot” a book about Living, Dying and Learning – Insights by the Venerable Hsing Yun,  founder of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order.  Image

I found this book among my mother’s books by her bedside.  6 months after her death, I read the book and I feel what she might have felt in her final weeks.  She knew she was dying.  We were not the sort to pussyfoot around her.  We did not try to deceive her that she was going to get well.  It’s a delicate balance between being pragmatic and still being hopeful that a miracle might happen.

I realized that death can be beautiful if one is prepared.  I think I am.  But one never knows until death comes.

I have always wanted to live simply but more so now that I am sorting out my mother’s possessions.  So many sentimental keepsakes and stuff that she kept thinking that it could be of use in the future.  I look at my own possessions and more needs to be jettisoned.  Old shoes, bags, clothes – all with sentimental value, I have given away more than half.  Slowly I will trim down all non-essentials.  I found my old keepsakes, some made me wonder why the heck I kept them.  Most reasons behind the stuff have been forgotten. And so off to the donation bin it went.

Dignity in death- that is a nice goal to have.  I realize whether sudden or slow, violent or peaceful, in the final moments if one is prepared and accepting then death can be serene.  One can die in dignity.  Let go.  Nothing in this world is worth holding on to.  Not even your family.  You enjoy each moment with them and when it is time, let go.  Life is about moving on.

Deathbed Promises

Now that I’ve had first hand experience of a deathbed promise, I think it’s a cruel imposition on the living.

I made promises that I now find difficult to fulfill.  Sometimes you want to but circumstances prevent you.  

My mom wanted me to assure her that I would protect an aunt’s possession from the infighting of her children.  Though I know I am objective enough and have the discernment to do so – I don’t think I will be able to.  I am not my mom.  I do not have her authority.  She was an aunt to my cousins.  When she talked, my cousins listened.  I am these cousins’ level and younger than they all are.  Who am I to make decisions for their mom?  

I am not stupid enough to proceed knowing the circumstances.  I know I will not be an effective mediator for this relative’s problem.  What was I thinking promising my mom?  That is the problem- when death is near, one rarely thinks.  

But I made a promise.  In whatever way I can, I will but to the extent that my mom wanted me to do when she is gone – I simply am unable to do.

When I am on my deathbed and if i have the opportunity, I will not hold my husband nor my children to any promises.  That would be cruel to them.  I have lived my life.  They will live theirs.  I have no right to impose upon them after I have left this earth.