For going on fourteen days now, I have been nothing short of obsessed. I was at work two weeks ago when the first news came out that Malaysian Air flight 370 was missing and since then, my curiosity and confusion and fascination and horror has reached a fever pitch. I check the CNN app on my phone as soon as I wake up in the morning, and I can feel the anticipation brimming inside me as I push that little CNN icon and wait for it to load. I’m full of hope. So much hope. And then I see that there is nothing new, other than more speculation and a few grainy satellite pictures that some claim to show items bobbing in the water but, to me, just look like waves.
I don’t know anyone on board that flight, obviously. I’m not worrying myself sick over a missing family or friend and when I have a few moments, I have to ask myself why I care so much. The only answer I can come up with is that, as a lover of literature and as a writer (when I can get my butt in gear), I’m fascinated by the human condition. From rapture to despair to every emotion in between, the way we react and suffer and live and love and weep and sing and cry and, morbidly, even the way that we die, enthralls me. As a child, it was the story of the Titanic that captured my attention. And Amelia Earhart. And Flight 19. And the Chowchilla bus kidnapping of 1976 (which I learned about in a TV movie and which terrified me for years afterward.) As I grew into adulthood and started paying more attention to the world beyond the borders of the county in which I lived, it was the stories of loss and devastation that were going on at any given moment on pretty much every continent that drew me in. Then 9/11 happened and I became one of those who constantly tuned in to the news channels. I craved news, any kind of news at all, to help make sense of the absolute senseless. Even one tiny morsel of something might be that piece of the information that fit into my brain, completing a puzzle that finally helped explain how in the hell something like this could happen.
Since 9/11, I have been a news junkie. Earthquakes and fires and wars and riots – if it affects the human condition, I’m probably monitoring it. With the disappearance of Flight 370 and each day passing where the families of those missing receive nothing but repeat information and inanities, my heart breaks a little more. In the 21st century, when we are connected to the people we love and our environment on a grand scale through technology, it’s so hard for me to fathom that a jet with 239 people on board could simply disappear. One moment, they’re a blip on someone’s screen and the next, they’re gone, with no smoking gun, no trail to follow, no explanation that can be stitched together from fragmented facts. There’s simply nothing, and that’s the part I can’t wrap my head around. How can someone in this day and age simply exist one moment and cease to leave even a trace the very next? It’s baffling. That’s what makes my eyes tear up and sadness tighten my chest – those people and the ones they love didn’t get to have a final conversation. There was the expectation that they’d see one another again, which means that things were left unsaid. I know that most people don’t get to say goodbye and that death is often unexpected, but to have nothing and no way to reconcile what has happened makes it even harder to comprehend. I keep seeing the faces of those who are waiting for news and a line from James Cameron’s Titanic keeps playing through my head: “Afterward, the 700 people in the boats had nothing to do but wait… Wait to die; wait to live; wait for an absolution that would never come.” My only hope is that for the sake of the families, there are answers – maybe no absolution is needed, but a resolution would be nice. The entire world is waiting.