I don’t talk about God much, out loud anyway.

Mainly because that word carries a lot of weight and means different things to different people.

But the helicopter crash in California that killed 9 people earlier this week has, as it has for many people, hit me in my gut in a way that is difficult to articulate.

The loss of a child, a mother, a sister, a father, a husband, a wife, a brother, a friend.

Many years ago I was on a plane experiencing severe mechanical difficulties. For more than five minutes our fate was uncertain. As the plane rattled and bumped to reach an altitude where oxygen levels were more certain, believe it or not, I felt a peace like I had never known and have never experienced since then.

Time and space were meaningless in that five minute rapid and rocky descent. I realized in those moments that I had done alright at life…I looked out at the night sky and the stars and the vastness of that black-forever and settled in for the rest, the unknown, the whatever-was-to-happen.

Emerging from that experience was difficult. I struggled to assign meaning to the everyday things…bills, traffic. Why bother?

But then somehow the whole thing wiggled its way into my life. A new kind of appreciation materialized. An understanding of something beyond and here and there and now and then and forever. God or love or higher power. The essence-of-the-all.

I think about it every time I get on a plane. I still feel fear. I also feel a deep trust that the peace I felt on that flight from LaGuardia…is how it all rolls when this human body dies.

Three days after my mom died, my then-4-year-old Helen and I went to the Harris YMCA to see the room where my mom had passed. My mom had been doing what she loved, swimming and then resting in the steam room afterwards.

As Helen and I approached the door to the steam room, I could feel Helen’s innocent joy increasing…curious and wondering. We stood by the door for a moment, both of us realizing something was afoot.

“Ya ready Helen?” I said with my hand on the door handle.

“Yes!!!!” She said with a delight to this day that warms my heart.

And then I flung open the door and the steam in that hot room began billowing out. Helen stood there for half-a-second, unsure of what was happening and then, as if on cue, gleefully began to dance in all that steam.

“It’s Goggie, Mommy. It’s GOGGIE.”

I’ve got nothing else to share this morning and appreciate all of you who made it this far into my ramblings. My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones in this tragic helicopter crash. The pain of being human…