Observing military aircraft preparing for an air show prompts Merridith Frediani to pray for mothers who live under constant threat of attack.
Blue Angels are flying over my house at this moment. A quiet Friday afternoon reading in the shade is interrupted by rehearsal for this weekend’s annual air show. It is exhilarating. My heart swells with awe and patriotism (and not a little gratitude that they are on my side). They fly so close I can read US Navy in yellow on the bottom of their wings.
I see them before I hear them. Many times, I’ve forgotten this truth of physics and rushed out the door scanning the skies for a glimpse among the trees and rooftops only to realize the plane has passed. If I go to the front yard, I’ll likely see my neighbors gazing up as well and no doubt cars at the lakefront are pulling over to see this spectacle.
When my children were of napping age, these practice sessions in the days leading up to the show often woke them. I’d get them up and we’d sit outside watching or even pile them into the car to drive to a space with more open sky. They’d keep flying overhead, the noise at times deafening, and we’d scan wildly, our eyes looking toward the sound that lags behind the planes.
“There!” someone would yell. “Did you see that one?”
“Where?? I can’t see them!”
“They’re above us!”
Despite many years of this, the enjoyment doesn’t go away. Neither does the fear. One summer day as I was working on the third floor of my house, a wave of sound hurtled toward me, and I ducked. It’s exciting, a little frightening, and so loud.
After I had kids, I gained a new perspective. While I always enjoy the Blue Angels, I found myself thinking how glad I am that this racket only happens once a year, and I reflect on mothers in other parts of the world for whom this noise isn’t the sound of a summer afternoon—but a sound of danger.
I imagine them scanning the skies, searching for the plane that may bring destruction and knowing that when they hear it, it’s too late.
I imagine them waking their little ones and fleeing to safety—if possible.
I wonder how anyone keeps her sanity after being awoken by this in the night when everything is already scarier.
I think of the Londoners during the blitz, running to safety in a subway tunnel night after night. I think of terrified women worried that not only will their home be destroyed but their children might also—and I realize that this noise, these planes that are entertainment for us lucky Americans, are for some a harbinger of doom. I can imagine these things, but I cannot imagine living with the stress of never knowing when the planes will come—but knowing they will come.
I cannot imagine the sense of helplessness in not being able to adequately protect my children because the enemy is too fast and fierce.
I used to imagine the women in the Middle East and pray for them. Now I’ve added those in Ukraine to that prayer. This exhilarating display comes each year tinged with gratitude that I live in a safe place, and sadness for those who don’t. There but for the grace of God go I. Those women love their babies as much as I love mine, but they don’t have the luxury of safety.
I’m glad the Lord places these moments in front of me, reminding me that while there have been challenges in the Frediani casa this summer, we have much to be thankful for. I’m glad I can be safe every day, truly safe from harm, and I’m glad God makes sure I remember that.
Copyright 2022 Merridith Frediani
Images: (top) Canva; others copyright 2022 Austen Vail, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Merridith Frediani loves words and is delighted by good sentences. She also loves Lake Michigan, dahlias, the first sip of hot coffee in the morning, millennials, and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three kids. Merridith writes for Catholic Mom, Diocesan.com, and her local Catholic Herald. Her first book, Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Adoration, is available at Our Sunday Visitor and Amazon. You can read more at MerridithFrediani.com.