So a big jet plane carrying 239 vanishes without a trace. 12 days later, nothing but vague reports, rumour and speculation. Just now I hear that satellites have spotted what may be related debris in the Southern Indian Ocean.
Of course people are going to speculate and theorise. Of course the media are going to grab every little lead and run with it for the sake of their front page and bottom line.
Maybe those two bits of debris are the beginning of the end of the mystery. But frankly, while we’re on front bottoms, the handling of this disaster by the media in general – and the subsequent chinese whispery talk by the public on social media, at water coolers or over the back fence has been a complete cock-up.
“Missing passports – must be a high-jack”, “there’s an oil slick”, “there’s a bit of wreckage”, “possible life raft sighted”, “turned to Lankawai” blah blah blah. I know it’s the media’s job to report but crikey imagine if it was your father on that plane, your toddler, your lover. When hope is pushed and pulled between fullness and lessness so violently, what would you do with yourself? How would you cope?
Everyone loves a good mystery, I get it. My thoughts are all the time drifting to that plane and the what ifs and the families’ suspended grief. And maybe people are making bold statements in order to be the one who got it right, but I do wish people would shut up.
I heard a powerful radio interview yesterday with Yvonne Pembroke, whose husband disappeared with a light plane and 4 others in 1981 – still considered Australia’s biggest aircraft mystery. Yvonne was 30 years old and 7 weeks pregnant with their child. She said that she clung desperately to any iota of information, including the prediction – despite her logical mind – of a clairvoyant who told her that two men had survived but would die if not found within 48 hours. When 48 hours passed she plunged again into despair.
This is where the hundreds of loved ones of the passengers aboard the missing Malaysian Airlines plane find themselves now – in limbo. They are all different of course and will cope in different ways, but they need people around them to hear them, to listen to them and keep their feet on the ground. They will need to learn to be alone with their thoughts. They don’t need speculation and rumour – there would be enough of that happening within. Trauma counselors working with these families say that some are too afraid to close their eyes. So they need some decent sleep.
So shut up everyone, hold your breath – or save it for prayers or vibes of strength or messages of goodwill or whatever your thing might be. Let the search carry on and reach its own conclusions. Hope that there will be conclusions based on solid evidence.
If this mystery is never solved, the families will need to prepare for where their imaginations may take them. As time moved on, Yvonne found herself looking for her husband Phillip in crowds, fantasizing that he would return and at night dreaming that he had.
She found new relationships difficult because of the sliver of chance that Philip would return.
Maybe there are beliefs in God or afterlife or fate that will help these families through this in different ways to Yvonne. I hope they all can gain higher strength from somewhere.
Maybe – just maybe – there will be survivors. But if not, perhaps there is hope in how Yvonne’s story ends: In a beautiful and tragic way, with a glimmer of a happy ending. Yvonne feels that she became closer to Philip after his death, that through talking about him to her growing son (whom she named Phillip) and thinking of him constantly for so long, she got to know him and his family in a way she never would have had he never gone down with that plane.
I hope there is some answers in this latest debris development, but most of all I wish for happy endings for all those touched by the disappearance of MH 370.