I saw a movie the other day that made me wonder what I would do in a similar situation. In the movie, a plane gets hijacked and the passengers know that they are going to die, so many of them use their cell phones to call their loved ones. It’s the various reactions they showed of those calling and those receiving the calls that got me thinking.
Some of those on the plane were stoic and realistic about what was coming, which just seemed to make it that much harder on the people they had phoned. Meanwhile, some of those who had been phoned refused to accept what they were hearing and kept insisting that everything would be fine, which made it hard on the callers who were trying to reconcile some open issues.
After watching this, I began to ponder what my reactions might be. What if I were on the plane, would I call my husband? (Of course, even if I did, he probably wouldn’t answer—he’s notorious for ignoring ringing phones;-) Being on the plane, I think I’d like to hear my husband’s voice one last time, take one last moment to tell him that I love him, and have some small touch of loving humanity with me at the end. However, from his perspective of being the one called, would it be cruel of me to involve him in my death like that? Make him listen to me as the plane crashed all the while he would know that he couldn’t do anything to help me, that he couldn’t do anything to stop the disaster?
I think back to when my mother died, and my father insisted that we (my brothers and myself) be in the hospital room with her. I’ve never forgotten that cruelty—because to me, it was a cruel thing to make me watch my mother’s death throes.
Sure, I now understand what all those authors meant when they used the term “death throes”, but I think I could have gone my whole life without observing it first hand. To sit there and watch someone struggle against death, yet knowing that they can’t win, is horrible. Sitting there, watching, and knowing you can’t do anything to ease their suffering, or to help them live or die is a horror that I hope no one reading this ever suffers.
And if that is how I would make my husband feel by calling him as my plane nose dived into the ground, then I would rather not call him. It doesn’t matter how much comfort I might get out of the phone call, if it causes him an equal amount (or more) of stress and upset.
And what about afterwards—once the plane is crashed, and I’m gone? Then I’ve left him with all that guilt, as he wonders if he should have said more, or less, or done something (even though there was nothing for him to do). So, no, I don’t think I would, or could, do that to my husband.
I think after watching that movie, I would only call him if I needed to reconcile something with him—maybe apologize for something. Even then, I think I would try to make him think I was only call to apologize, and hang up before anything really happened. Why leave him feeling any more horrible than he has to?
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Now, let’s take it from the other side. What if I were the one on the ground and it was husband in the plane. Would I want him to call me? I think I would, but not so I could listen to him crash, but so that I could at least tell him I loved him one last time.
I think if he called and just said, “I love you”, so I could say “I love you, too”, that would be enough for me. However, I wouldn’t really want to hear the final moments of those on the plane. I think that would be much too much to deal with.
Of course the odds of this type of situation occurring for me or my husband are slim, considering my abilities to perceive things before they happen. I think if either of us were planning a trip without the other, I’d be able to tell whether there was danger—I always have been before 😉
But even so, it still makes you think doesn’t it? I mean, really—what would you do? Would you call or not? Would you want your husband, wife, daughter, son to call or not?