Bert Hamilton, 41, of Gaithersburg watches a lot of television these days. Disaster films give him cold chills, he says, and airline commercials "don't do a great deal for me either."
His bones have mended but he lives in flashbacks. A face on the screen will become a face on the plane. On a recent trip, when his wife switched on the motel bed vibrator to help him sleep, he found himself suddenly reliving Flight 90's shuddering fall from the sky. "I had to leave the room," he says.
Hamilton isn't really complaining: just trying to sort out his life after a crash that altered forever his notion of what life is about.
"I mean," he says, "we go through life thinking there is always time--time to live right, time to get organized, time to make our peace with God. We could do it right now but it would cramp our style. So we say, 'I'll take care of that in a while.'
"But I've learned however you live, that's how you die."
Though not previously a churchgoer, Hamilton has shared his testimony with church groups and he tries to read the Bible more. He worries about the feelings of colleagues at Fairchild Industries in Germantown. The newest Fairchild employe of eight on the flight, he was the only one to survive.
He's even patient with reporters, some of whom impersonated his wife and children in an effort to gain hospital interviews. One sent flowers tagged: "Make your story a part of history. Call John Blosser, the National Enquirer, Lantana, Fla."
Although he's now back at work part time, there've been mood swings and deep depressions as the once placid former Air Force officer and baseball coach grapples with questions that have challenged philosophers through the ages.
"I figure I've been spared for a reason . . . ," he says. "I just hope I'm receptive enough and conscious enough to know what I'm supposed to do in this world until my time comes."