Being the recipient of a miracle, as the media has dubbed many of these stories, causes not only a haunting dose of survivor’s guilt, but also sparks expectations that those lucky few were saved for a reason. It’s a heavy burden to shoulder, on top of all the other traumas. Lamson, who travelled to France to meet Bakari and her father, senses this acutely. “You feel guilty that you’re not using your life to do something better,” he says.
Bakari can relate to the pressure. “When you’re only 14, you do not think to do great things at that age.”
The guilt is especially apparent in Jim Polehinke, who feels it was his responsibility to care for the people aboard the plane he was co-piloting. “He would have rather died,” his wife says. “No doubt about it. He would have given anything to have gone with them rather than be sitting here doing this.”