Tag Archives: Grief and Waiting

The Middle Ground of Grief

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshopped faces of missing passengers from malaysian Airlines Flight 370 onto a Malaysian batik design.After I finished my son’s chocolates I started on the microwave popcorn in the pantry. When all six bags of the popcorn were gone I found cookies in the freezer. Riveted in front of the television, I ate recklessly. For the whole week.

“How can you lose an airplane?” I asked the TV screen that glowed maps of islands and oceans with red arrows.

On the third day of the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, CNN News aired a gathering of the passengers’ family members. That’s when it hit me: 239 people were lost. Not just a plane. In the crowd, a man cried out for his son. Even in Chinese, I knew the anguish. It transported me back to the days just before my daughter’s death, when I waited and wished for a miracle.

“Middle ground,” my sister had explained in those first days of March 2011, “is a place somewhere in between knowing that you’re winning the war and when you get those first inklings that you’re gonna lose. It doesn’t mean anyone’s giving up. But it’s a first step toward that end, an end that no one is ready to acknowledge.” The miracle didn’t come. I hovered over the hospital bed to memorize my daughter’s face.

By the sixth day, I was tuning into the TV first thing upon waking and every other hour until bedtime. Between Lost and Found is the sweet time when people hold onto threads of hope that stretch thinner with each passing minute. The eighth day I prayed it was a terrorist hijacking. Maybe the passengers were hostages somewhere in Kazakhstan?

Lost is not knowing one’s whereabouts, unable to find one’s way. Lost means something has vanished. One can be lost forever. But there is a certain finality to being found. Once found, what you thought you lost turns into a welcome event. Or it is truly lost, cannot be recovered. And hope is yanked away completely.

It is Monday, the eleventh day. I mindlessly eat a bowl of leftover tiramisu in front of the TV as the mystery of Flight 370 continues. I crave sweetness and still wait, along with the family members of the lost passengers, wishing for a miracle.