That beauty to the left of me is my mom, Kim Hatch and that handsome man in the back is my dad, Stephen Hatch. You should take a look at them. I wish you could know them because they are as genuine and nice as they look in the picture. These two people directly impacted who I am as a woman and mother and this is a picture of my people, my family. Family gatherings have changed quite a bit since this picture was taken because on June 24, 2011, my parents died in a plane crash.
Some of my favorite memories with my family are flying up to our lake house in Northern Michigan. My dad was a pilot and owned a small airport in our hometown. On June 24 my brother, Austin, Mom, Dad, and our two dogs flew up to the lake house for a weekend getaway. I opted not to join because that Monday I was driving back up with mom and Great Grandma for the week of the 4th of July. Mom had called me that Friday to talk because she had just got back from serving in Joplin, MO with some of the small group girls she leads. I remember our conversation very clearly as we were planning for the week ahead at the lake. We talked about working on the flower garden and decorating for the 4th of July. Mom was my dearest, deepest, and closest friend so spending time together is always so enjoyable and preferred. We were constantly talking, laughing, and hugging. Before they took off for their weekend getaway, mom sent us kids a text that read, “Love to all as we are taking off to the lake. Will be thinking of you. ox”. I quickly and jokingly replied back, “stop leaving us!” I knew I would get my week with her starting that coming Monday, but I was wanting my mom, my best friend to stop leaving so I can hang out with her again.
That evening my husband and I had an evening planned. I was so distracted by cleaning the house that I didn’t realize it had been hours since I have heard from my mom or dad, which was not normal. At 11:30PM, I received a call from my Papa, which left me deeply concerned because I knew he was on vacation for his 50 wedding anniversary in Spain. I had missed the call but received the voicemail that asked me to call him immediately. I went to dial his number with hands shaking and sweaty and before I hit “send”, my phone died. In a panic, I searched for my phone charger, plugged in my phone and waited (what seemed like hours) for my phone to turn back on. As I waited, I started pacing the room and my mind ran wild with reasons why he could be calling. I had a moment of relief when I saw my phone turn on and I could finally get some answers. I finally reached Papa on the phone and he followed my “hello” with words I never wanted to hear …”Maria, there has been a plane crash. Your mother and father are dead.” I don’t know if you have ever heard someone in excruciating pain cry but, let me tell you, it is the most gut-wrenching sound. I yelled, “Papa no! No!” All I remember is him telling me to be strong and to go over to the house and tell my siblings. I hung up the phone and fell to the floor, screaming, and crying. My husband walked through the door a few minutes after. He heard me and ran into the back room. As I sat on my floor limp all I could get out was, “My parents are dead!” We both sat there for as long as I let him hold me, crying and weeping. “How can this be” is all we could get out of our mouths. To be in that kind of pain is to be in a constant state of torture because your body feels as if it could die from the amount of pain but you can’t and you won’t. We calmed ourselves down just enough to must enough strength to stand again. We drove over to my parent’s house where I found my sister. I saw my younger brother’s, Austin, car in the driveway and asked Jason to go in the house, find him. As I rallied my other two siblings, my husband met me and said he couldn’t find Austin, so I continued to try calling his phone. It wasn’t until some time after, we got the news that Austin was on the plane that crashed and killed my parents and he probably wouldn’t make it. As I screamed and cried and fell apart all over again, I found myself wondering into my parent’s house. I noticed silence, emptiness, sadness filling the room and suffocating my heart and I thought, quite possibly, my lungs. I felt like I was dying but the terrible part was I couldn’t. I had to live in and walk out these feelings, this grief, this hell on earth.
On June 25th, 3:30AM, the three remaining siblings and some of our close friends stood in the kitchen, looking around the house and envisioning where mom and dad used to be, smiling and laughing. We just look at each other in silence and disbelief and hope that maybe all of this really is just a nightmare…
Great follow up posts:
Mom and Dad in NC with Great Grandma
Maria and Dad at the lake house in 2009
Mom and Maria in Arizona 2009