From the time you hear about the crash at 10:00 p.m. when you go out for what you think is going to be an evening of karaoke until you finally see the clock for the last time, four hours have passed. You had heard sirens earlier and not given it a second thought.
This is a corporate plane that flies in daily to your town from a major metropolitan airport. And from what you have heard that night from people who reacted to the crash around you, from the slivers of information anybody has, people affiliated with your university, and possibly or probably people from your school were on that plane. People you do know had been there to meet the plane, but you have not spoken to them, would not speak to them about that horror: waiting for a plane to come in that starts to pull apart in the air, and lands in flames...
When you wake up in the morning, you move slowly through the house because even though you do not know who the dead are, you already know that eight of the fifteen passengers have died. Two have survived, and five are missing. They have been missing all night.
Friends who went down to the scene tell you that they counted 18 emergency vehicles. Another who unknowingly passed the first troopers headed to the scene says she has never seen a vehicle moving so fast.
It is a tragic and surreal thing, it will touch everyone in the community, as tragedies do with those less densely populated areas. Even if you don't know anyone on the flight personally, you will know someone who is grieving. In all likelihood, you will go to a memorial service this week. And it is strange and sad to be moving through the morning, checking the news for updates, straining to hear the radio while getting kids moving through their morning, more slowly today.
Because it is sad enough that it happened. But the worst part is that you are moving through this molasses of shock and sadness, but underlying it all, you know that once the names are released, it could be much much worse.
Update: We have received word from our president that information will be relayed to us as soon as families have been notified. I would hope that this is a generic message. Our prayers are with their families.