I sort of feel like my poor little Northern Nevada is in some kind of bad dream. Less than a week ago, I posted about a crazy person walking into a Carson City IHOP and gunning down a bunch of people. And now last Friday, we made the national news again.
Every year, we host the Reno Air Races. I never, ever go. I know I’m probably wrong, but in my mind, there’s a crash every year. That’s how it feels anyway. So it freaks me out. It’s the same reason I’m not a big NASCAR/racing fan. Okay, not the exact same reason. Some of that’s more. . . cultural (go hang out with my friend at If Only She Had Applied Herself — she’ll teach you all about, um, that).
Anyway, I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of intentionally standing near heavy, fast-moving, metal objects that could potentially lose control. But this year, I was going to “get over myself” and help out a friend who was running a booth on Sunday. Because let’s face it — driving there would be statistically more dangerous.
But as it turned out, I never had to work at the booth. Around 5 p.m. on Friday, the kids and I were driving back from The Discovery (our children’s museum, one of the happiest places on earth). As we passed Renown Medical Center, I pointed out a helicopter (I’m a mom — I habitually point out helicopters). And this one was coming down really fast. And practically on top of us. Because, as it turns out, it was landing on the patch of grass right next to the road that we were driving down.
And then the ambulances passed us. One. Two. Three. And I knew something terrible had happened.
At 4:20, a plane called the Galloping Ghost crashed into the stands at the Reno-Stead airport and killed ten people. Seventy were injured. Among the people at the race were my good friend, his 9-year-old son, and the son’s 8-year-old friend. My friend is a pilot, and thankfully he was watching the plane so closely that he actually noticed something was wrong as it was rounding the curve toward them. He yelled at his son to run and grabbed the other little boy.
As it turns out, the plane wouldn’t have hit them if they’d stayed where they were. But here’s the thing — I’m just freakin’ amazed by how fast he reacted because I’m the kind of person who seems to move in slow motion during a crisis. Or at least that’s how it feels. My daughter, Elfie, did a cannon ball off the back of a boat a few weeks ago, didn’t clear the prop, and landed on her tailbone. My aunt was the one who fished her out while she screamed her head off. I try to tell myself that it’s because I have everything under control. And I’m actually not a panicky person (sure). And I’m just methodical. But the fact is, even if I’d noticed the plane’s odd movement, my feet probably would’ve been glued to the tarmac. Or my mind wouldn’t have thought fast enough to tell my kid to run. Or grab the other boy. I’m the idiot whose idea of ducking would be getting knocked down.
Anyway, there’s been so much bad news lately that it’s hard not to get bogged down in it all. But yesterday, while I was explaining something about the famine in Somalia to the kids (hey, they asked) Elfie suddenly cut me off mid-sentence:
“I had fun at Roller Kingdom today.”
“What made you think of that?” I said. And added, under my breath and sort of annoyed, “Since there wasn’t any logical segue in sight. . .”
“Oh, sometimes at the end of the day, I just like to think about the things that’ve happened.”
And suddenly I realized. Not everybody was noticing all the bad news.
“I’m glad you had fun,” I said. “It was a good day.”
And it was a good day. Fortunately there’s someone around to remind Mommy of that.