3 October 1993 – Somewhere in the sky between Paris and Moscow.
“Don’t get scared now.”
Kevin McCallister and I have something in common. Both of us have faced fear.
3 October 1993. Our family was Russia-bound on a small Air France jet plane somewhere in the air between Paris and Moscow. America and everything we had known and loved in life was not even in the rear view mirror anymore. We had said our tearful goodbyes that morning. Home seemed light years away as the jet raced across the sky.
The losses weighed me down. The known was gone. In its place was only the new. The unfamiliar. The foreign. I was in a fog.
My family was peacefully sleeping in the three seats across the aisle from me. I couldn’t sleep so I became acquainted with the petite, attractive, thirtyish New York newspaper reporter seated next to me who had been in Paris to cover the farmer’s strike. Her job took her to hot spots in the world, she said. Since she spoke five languages including Russian fluently and had instincts as to how to get to the front of the action with stealth and ingenuity, she was often on her way to danger.
I had to ask the obvious, clearly ominous question: “Why are you going to Moscow?”
She told me of the dire predictions of bloody confrontation possible on Monday, October 4, the deadline Yeltsin gave the Parliamentary forces to leave the White House. She was on her way to cover Monday’s story, one she saw as an inevitable bloody battle. “If Yeltsin wins, Russia will probably be OK. If not, anarchy will break loose.”
The growing reality that we would be in Moscow on October 4 disturbed my thoughts as we traveled closer to the scene on our plane destined for the eye of the storm. It was like swallowing a huge wad of bubble gum that slowly made its way down to my stomach and then sat there growing into a heavy lump of clay I felt each time I moved.
You didn’t bring us here to die, did you, God?
The lead bubble gum grew in my stomach and I prayed for the Lord to give me peace. It’s one thing to put yourself in a dangerous situation. It’s quite another to also bring your children there.
Our eyes met. “God be with you, Liesl.” She didn’t respond. Lost in thought.
We landed with a rush downward and jarring brake thuds; touchdown. She gave me her phone number and told me to call her if we got into trouble.. She would report our story and help us. Somehow, that was not a comforting thought.
Liesl was one of the first off the plane. She disappeared into the crowd and didn’t turn back.
She’s a brave lady, I thought.
So am I.
You’ll Never Walk Alone
by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hamerstein II
When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk
You’ll never walk alone
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