“Miracles Happen. This I Believe.”
On December 29, 2000, my husband Jim and I were flying to Nairobi, Kenya for a vacation. The plane was more than 30,000 feet over Africa, two hours from our final destination. We were standing in the aisle, stretching our legs, discussing how excited we were about what lie ahead.
Suddenly, the plane started to violently shake, throwing us both to the ground.
We quickly clamored along the floor to our seats, and strapped ourselves in.
In that moment, the plane nosedived and plummeted several thousand feet.
“Sweets, this doesn’t look good,” my husband said, holding onto me tightly.
“This might just be our time,” I whispered back.
As we faced what seemed to be sure death, I felt a deep sense of peace come over my entire body. It was as if a powerful calm had entered every cell of my being.
Holding onto each other tightly, my husband and I talked about how good our lives had been, how deeply we loved each other, and we prayed a lot.
I felt a huge sense of love overwhelm me. All I could think in that moment was how much I loved the man beside me, and our friends and families far below. If we didn’t survive, I wanted them to know this, and how peaceful I felt in that moment. They would have been so comforted, I thought. If only they knew.
Without warning, the plane plummeted again, this time in an even deeper nosedive. I heard other passengers scream. Oxygen masks fell from the ceiling. Time seemed to be moving in slow motion.
Then, as quickly as it had started, the plane leveled out.
“A mad man…” the pilot panted over the loudspeaker, barely able to talk he was so out of breath. “A mad man broke into the cockpit. He tried to commit suicide and kill us with him.”
I clenched my husband’s hand as we looked at each other in disbelief and shock. We were still alive.
In an interview following our safe landing, the pilot said that if the struggle in the cockpit had gone on for even three more seconds, he believed the plane would have flipped over on its back and most likely exploded.
Engineers who reviewed the case afterwards said they believed part of the plane’s tail should have broken off as a result of the maneuvers made in the air.
Two passengers who broke into the cockpit and wrestled the man (who had schizophrenia) off the pilot weren’t even supposed to be on the flight They had been rerouted and given first class seats, right by the cockpit door.
For me, in those short four to five minutes of struggle in the air, everything changed. A belief was born in my heart that took over my whole being, and I have never been the same since.
Miracles happen, and love is the only thing that really matters.
This I believe.
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