Because Grey was a pilot, everything he said in the plane was recorded. After his death, I was given a transcript of that recording, and so I know what my son’s last words were.
He was flying in formation, that day, with another plane.
When Grey realized something was wrong with his plane, he radioed the other pilot. “You’re on our own,” Grey siad.
Then he crashed and died.
I think about those words a lot. They’re a reminder.
We’re all on our own, aren’t we? That’s what it boils down to.
We come into this world on our own – in Hawaii, as I did, or New York, or China, or Africa, or Montana – and we leave it in the same way, on our own, wherever we happen to be at the time – in a plane, in our beds, in a car, in a space shuttle, or in a field flowers.
And in between those times, we try to connect along the way with others who are also on their own.
If we’re lucky, we have a mother who reads to us.
We have a teacher or two along the way who make us feel special.
We have dogs who do the stupid dog tricks we teach them and who lie on our bed when we’re not looking, because it smells like us, and so we pretend not to notice the paw prints on the bedspread.
We have friends who lend us their favorite books.
Maybe we have children, and grandchildren, and funny mailmen, and eccentric great0aunts, and uncles who can pull pennies out of our ears.
All of them teach us stuff. They teach us about combustion engines and the major products of Bolivia, and what poems are not boring, and how to be kind to each other, and how to laugh, and when the vigil is in our hands, and when we just have to make the best of things even though it’s hard sometimes.
Looking back together, telling our stories to one another, we learn how to be on our own.
-Lois Lowry, Looking Back
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