I recently visited Nova Scotia, and was (of course) spellbound by the beauty of the area. I'm from Penobscot Bay area on the Maine Coast. Beautiful and powerful rocky crashing coast lines are not new to me. Nor is the knowledge and mystery around shipwrecks, and aviation tragedies at sea. We have certainly had our share in our area, but I was touched and literally haunted by the feelings I had around the "Swissair 111".
My daughter and I stayed only two days at a beach Resort at 'White Point Beach", and spent our time exploring the beaches, lighthouses and breakers around Liverpool.
Coming from an area protected from the open sea by harbors and islands, I was amazed at what I was able to find while searching on the beaches. I had expected to find many shells, of the delicate sea creatures I have always seen on our beeches. I was looking for some interesting driftwood, and sea glass....and I found next to nothing of these items. We were on a hidden, and isolated beach, on a point called "Western Head". The sign on the dirt road said "Sand Beach".
I found a few tiny dead snails, and a few tiny crab shells that did not survive the crashing waves. The sand seem so clean, and untouched, and the water was crystal clear, crashing high on the rocks, and tinted a sea green. The early morning sun was so welcoming.
There were only a few signs of the "sins of beech-goers" hidden in the wet sand. A childs sippy bag, a plastic shopping bag, a beer can. It told me that although the beech seemed abandoned, it was visited by some.
But what haunts me, and pushes me to write here today, were the overwhelming amounts of clothing items, that both my daughter and I found wrapped in the seaweed, and buried in the wet sand. The seaweed was mostly what we used to call "Devils Apron" when I was a young girl, and I had always believed that it was a deep water vegetation. There was so much of that on the beech.
These cloth items were so curious, because they were almost always torn. Only pieces and parts, and did not seem to relate to beach clothing at all. Most was not identifiable, but many items were. I found parts of a torn adult terry bathrobe, and a square item that looked like a baby blanket, or table cloth. It was so hard to tell because it was so worn.
We were there at low tide. My daughter walked near the waters edge. She later told me of finding "a lot of clothing", (In her words) and from my beech-combing memories, this seemed unusual. She talked about a green baby outfit, which seemed to her mostly intact, a torn red cloth, and a man's shirt. The rest to her were pieces and parts, but many.
At the time these multiple "land items" found, while very few seashore items could be were found, seemed curious but I really didn't think much of it. I thought perhaps a shipwreck had deposited these items. Maybe the stormy weather had played a part. At any rate, we left these things there. They were not ours to take.
Later that evening I was watching a movie about "Swissair Flight 111" and it suddenly hit me. Could it be possible that these items were only now being given up by the ocean?
I'm writing here today in search of someone who might be interested, who has studied, or has knowledge of these types of things. I know that the ocean is a mystery, and that time and currents do things that a simple and uninformed person such as myself might not understand, but for now I am captured by these thoughts and questions.
Perhaps I am way off base, and perhaps I tread on the pains of others, and I am not invited. But what happened for me on that trip was my heart tugged by some of the thoughts and feelings of those touched by that event in September of 1998. For me then, it was a sad and powerful news event. Today, I feel strangely involved and somehow responsible for telling someone, just in case it might help.
There isn't a doubt in my mind you came away from that visit, the visit you and your daughter expected to be just a beach combing day, with those haunting thoughts and/or questions. The nightmare of 2 Sept '98 looms larger each day for those of us personally touched by this tragedy, having lost their loved ones in such a horrendous way - ultimately their final destination being the unforgiving sea. My husband, children and I were always avid swimmers having an in-ground pool here at the house. That pool has remained covered since 2 September 1998. I have not stepped into any ocean, any lake, any pond, any pool.. any water, other then my shower.
Thankfully, many are granted the ability of returning to their real lives after such an overwhelming experience such as yours, that day on beach. Lives that are not constantly filled with the never-ending, nightmarish and gruesome "pictures" that have been etched into every fiber of their being - having been made to endure those very same haunting questions, only in a far more intense and personal way.
Barbara will never have the ability to go beach combing with her daughter Tara. Tara was on swissair Flight 111. Ray, my husband, will never be able to swim in our pool again. The pool is covered and Tara can no longer walk along the shore with her mother, father and sister. Those precious moments have been relegated to memories for us. Most times, it's far too difficult to feel the warmth of the memories, because memories are just that. When the memories include those dearly loved, who have been killed in such hideous ways - thoughts of times gone by that will never happen again become bittersweet, at least for some of us, even all these years later. God Willing, that will not always be the case and remembering those warm memories won't always hurt so badly.
Although I understand and appreciate your intentions were not to deliver additional pain, possibly you felt this would be (somehow) cathartic or a means for you to unburden yourself by detailing your "day at the beach" with your daughter - whatever the case and with all due respect and honesty I have to say your choice of words to describe the "land items" (not to mention Devil's Apron) you 'stumbled' upon, did hurt me deeply. Maybe you haven't read any of the articles printed during the early weeks following the crash, but if you ever do, you'll completely understand the pain I felt...reading your post.
Barbara and I and all the rest of those family members left in the wake of the swissair Flight 111 crash have had to endure the MOST gruesome and detailed facts you could possibly imagine. To have to "revisit" them again, even as gentle as you attempted to post your feelings, using those "buzz words" that trigger all sorts of nightmares for us(maybe you weren't aware she and her husband lost their 16 year old daughter that night?)...well, I have to apologize for not feeling the need to know more. I also have to apologize for not being able to answer your haunting questions.
I will apologize to you once more before I close, and this time.. for being just simply honest with you. I truly wish I could deliver you the comfort you're seeking.. but unfortunately, I haven't found that myself yet.
God's Speed and keep you, your daughter and those you love and hold near and dear safe. May you only find seashells, on your next trip.
There is private grief, to be respected above all, and there is public knowledge, also to be respected and cherished. I honestly believe Linda is trying to share some information for the sake of others rather than for herself. I also believe that her effort can genuinely be construed as insensitive, which is the impression that seems to have been given to one reader. For myself, I think her contribution of evidence and bearing witness is genuine and useful. But, by the same standard - just saying what I have said could be regarded as insensitive - that is, commenting on potential evidence in a public forum. I would regard the supression of potential evidence as a greater sin, however. Both the previous contributors to this thread are obviously sincere and I hope they are genuinely (and not just by a form of polite words) able to recognise that in the other.
A lot has been said, in the Canadian media and and on boards such as this one, about what washed up on shores. The most grotesque example of this was Esquire's interview with Provincial Medical Examiner John Butt. For me, it's disturbing. I generally avoid the subject.
What is far more disturbing is the level of public interest this subject matter seems to inspire relative to the real story of the crash of Swissair 111. What really bothers me is that the term "accident" is still used to describe it.
If you are interested, read Gary Stoller's articles from USA Today, entitled, " Doomed plane's gaming system exposes holes in FAA oversight "
Mark I agree with you that far too much attention has gone to this type of horrific issue. Far too much. It has completely taken away from the issues that should be of concern to passengers because their lives just might depend on attention being paid to what has happened to cause an air tragedy (not accident by any means).
I also agree with you on that Esquire article as being the worst. I never read it and never will but heard enough to know to stay away from it. I resent to this day that some of Tara's friends may have seen that and it felt like a tremendous violation of our privacy not to mention Tara's. Everytime anything like that came out in the press (and there was plenty) it was extremely painful for me, and continues to be.
Lyn, your post was incredible. I couldn't have begun to say it that well. Thanks so much for taking the time to write that. While I'm commenting on that I also want to thank you so much for being the only family member I know from sr111 that is actually very concerned about air safety.
To be very honest Barbara, the topic WAS extremely painful to respond to - but the words flowed "easily" because they weren't merely words. They were a means to express the feelings that are etched within the three of us. You, Mark and I (as countless other family members, no doubt) carry this part of the nightmare with us day after endless day and night after LONG night, so the words came "easily" because the FEELINGS are ingrained.
It was choosing those words, trying not to offend - that was the difficult part. You know as well as I do, unless one is personally involved in this sort of disaster, it's so difficult to express the "real deal", without those less effected taking offense.
Linda did mention it was not her intention to deliver additional pain (I did appreciate that!) - all I could possibly do was respond honestly. "Funny", so many suggest they want an honest answer to their questions - but when an honest response is delivered (and it might not be what they want to hear)offense is taken. That has always confused me and no doubt always will.
My turn to thank you and Mark.. for being the only other family members that apparently seem as eager to address aviation safety issues as I am. Not all of us can take on this role as passionately/visibly as we have. Not all are able to devote the funds necessary to agressively seek those changes. I would NEVER ask anyone to take on what we have and therefore take the abuse we have during these long years, on the many/various issues we've addressed... but it would be wonderful (for sure) if we had even a few more voices to join us "out there".
229 Souls were killed that night - and they've only had three voices to speak for them and three faces to represent them. I know they are thankful..
First of all I am profoundly honered that you took the time to answer my note, Lynn. Your answer was cert
I will continue.
Your answer was beautiful, and sensitive. I certainly understand tha
I will try this one more time in another way. I am so sorry for my blunders this morning.
Again I thank you for you wonderful and kind words. I am honored and grateful that you took the time to answer me. Your letter was very beautiful, and I understood every word. Loosing a child, in any way is hideous, and any mother understands that. What makes it far more painful, Iï¿½m sure, is that yours, and those families involved had their pain thrust into the worlds eye; with the tiniest of facts magnetized out of proportion, over and over again. I do not know how that feels. I hope I never will.
No, I no longer revisit all those horrific media publications. I did then, and read them again each time something new happens. I am glad that all of us are no longer are hammered by those stinging words, and I hate that my words were seen as the same. I agree, I was insensitive. I apologize. That was not my intention.
Lyn, You have shared with me a very private and precious part of yours, and your familyï¿½s life. Today I am not sure that you are interested in the same from me, but I will take that leap. My words here are risky, but I am overwhelmed at your courage to expose yourself to the world on this website, and I will try to do the same.. Once again I offer these words as a gift, rather than to harm.
When I was very young, and for generations before, my family owned the fish market in town. I grew up in a wonderful village on Penobscot Bay in Maine. My mother placed me in the warm sand on the beech in front of our home when I was but a few months old. Since that day the ocean has been an incredible and powerful part of my existence.
Iï¿½m sure that I could not explain my spiritual connection to the ocean, but when I am in pain, or when I am happy, lonely, scared, or injured I go there. Physically if possible, but always spiritually. Itï¿½s a part of my life, as church is to most. In my life, other that two years in Chicago, I have never lived more than walking distance from the ocean.
I am not a fisher woman, nor a scholar of the ocean. While I am respectful, and mystified, perhaps I love and understand the ocean in a way that others donï¿½t. We've cried there for our losses, and celebrated life there as well.
I believe so many things, and since I am repelled by those who want to impose their religious beliefs on me, I will not go on. But please understand that my visit to that beech that day was one of the most powerful, and wonderful days of my life. It was in no way horrific for me or my daughter. My first note here was because I felt the need to give something I had found there to someone who might need it.
When I touched those pieces of cloth that Sunday morning, I felt that God was again connecting the dots. I believe that people touch each other in so many ways, and each touch is a miracle in itself. When I touched those pieces of cloth, I was touching the life of someone who once touched that very cloth, and they were touching me. The person who loved and cared for that item was there for me, and that touch changed me. I am profoundly grateful. I took those connections home with me. I will never forget that beech. For me the coast of Nova Scotia is one of the most beautiful and spiritual places on earth.
Iï¿½m so sorry that Barbara canï¿½t walk that beech with her daughter. Your telling me that makes the memories of that day even more precious to me. I canï¿½t change that, and I would if I could. But in my mind, I did walk that beech with her daughter that dayï¿½....I have no doubt. And others who are a part of the beeches of Nova Scotia for oh so many reasons. It was such a beautiful day.
For everyone, I hope that the pain and anger will leave someday, when you no longer need it, and peace will come. God knows itï¿½s what your loved ones would want.
"For everyone, I hope that the pain and anger will leave someday, when you no longer need it, and peace will come. God knows itï¿½s what your loved ones would want."
Linda thanks for your sincere words. I did want to address your last sentence. I don't think that people who have lost a child really ever achieve true peace. Some may say they do but it really does leave a burning hole in your heart. It's not really something that I can explain. It is particularly horrible when you know that others are responsible for it and they are free to lead the lives with their families that they've carelessly taken from you. That said I want to explain that exposing this terrible story through a web site is a good thing. If ignored it can happen again to other human beings and that is simply unacceptable to me. If anger is turned to productive activity I think it can be a very powerful thing. I have no doubt that Tara would have expected for me to speak up and I plan on doing just that and hoping that others will listen. She would have done the same for me.
Edited to add: Speaking up is more than having a web site. There are many ways to do that including making appropriate phone calls and letting your concerns be known. My hope is that other family members affected by sr111 are doing just that.
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