Earlier this week a miracle took place on the Hudson River while we watched enthralled as one hundred and fifty people survived a plane crash. Everything went right. The pilot made sound judgments. The crew was well trained and followed that training. Passengers followed instructions and helped each other. And the emergency services and volunteers rushed to the aid of the passengers. For all of these blessings we're thankful.
Now will come the hard part.
Survival after a catastrophic event is not as easy as it sounds. No doubt some will have bad dreams or flashbacks. Some will have new fears to deal with. Some--thankfully a very few--will have physical injuries to heal.
But every person on that plane will have one experience in common. They stared death in the face and saw their own mortality. That is a life altering experience. Regardless of religious beliefs, or lack of them, facing imminent death changes all of us.
I've stared at my own leap into the unknown with a few flashing seconds to think, "This is a stupid way to die." I walked away from that accident unwilling to accept that I still lived. I remember telling the police officer, "I didn't die!" And he merely shook his head and said, "I don't know how you survived."
The passengers on that flight will experience their own amazement and disbelief. And then in the coming days there will inevitably be an evaluation of their lives. Some will make new resolutions. Some will turn over new leaves. Many will embrace life with new vigor.
Their families and friends will probably have a new appreciation of the loved ones they nearly lost. One man met his wife at the airport with a bunch of roses. Another family grabbed their young man and just held on tight.
Perhaps that's the best part of survival.