How strange it was to open the window shade as the pilot announced that we were making our final descent and look onto the tiny houses below. This is the same flight path I've taken a dozen times, and these are the same rooftops I see every time. There is the terracotta colored one with the kidney bean swimming pool in the backyard; the grey one with the old red truck next to a small grey shed. They're so familiar - landmarks that signal the end of a long journey - nothing has changed . . . and yet everything has. How strange - as I look down and see the thick white lines of the runway approaching fast - that the person I'm here to see lies cold and stiff in a morgue somewhere below. How strange - as the wheels touch down in a puff of white smoke - that I will never again in this life see that smiling face just outside the restricted gate area, arms open, anxiously waiting to hug her running grandchildren . . .
It feels so bizarre, so disrespectful, to riffle though someone's stuff. I am a vulture searching for things of value. And who am I to determine the value of something that is not mine? Yet, that's what I'm here to do.