Saturday, May 1, 2010

Surprising Kindnesses

As I walked laps around the terminal, my eyes slowly cleared.  I still had flashes of light and some blurriness at times, but it was easing.  What began next was a constant jitteriness.  My body would not stay still, but was simply jittering.  Uncontrallable shaking.  I kept walking, trying to burn some energy hoping that would stop it.  I began to be pretty frightened that if I could not hide some of these symptoms of stress, that someone would stop me from getting on that plane!  So I paced.  Even when we were called to line up, I paced restlessly beside the line, telling one person who asked that my sciatic nerve was acting up.

The line seemed to go on forever.  People had packed too many and too big carry-ons and there was a lot of arguments and frustration.  I paced and watched.  At last, we were allowed to board.  I quickly found my seat.  I had chosen the exit aisle so I could be off that plane as fast as I could.  I sat and tried to focus again on my Suduko, but I sat next to a very talkative couple.  They were traveling because of an illness in one of their parents - headed back to take care of them.  So we talked, and I expressed sympathy for their plight.  Then she turned to me with a smile and asked why I was flying.

"umm... I'm going to meet my husband."  It was all I could think of just then.

She continued to talk.  Apparently, she hated flying and it made her really nervous.  So we talked.  It is the best thing to do to distract a nervous flier anyway.  When the plane was loaded, the flight attendant joined us, sitting opposite us in her seat.  She also expressed sympathy for the couple seated with me.  Then she looked at me and looked puzzled.  She asked why I am traveling, and I told her to meet my husband.  Then she gave me a puzzled look and asked if I was nervous about flying, too.  I smiled and said that I wasn't really.  So she asked what was wrong because I didn't look too good.

I took a deep breath, and thought.  Then I told her that I was traveling to meet my husband who had been working, and something had gone wrong.  That I had been awake for five nights trying to get information and help for my husband, and I am just exhausted and stressed, but fine.  He is fine, and I am going to meet him.  I told her that I would likely conk out and sleep if I could during the flight.  She talked some more with me, asking if we had children and how they were doing.   Then right after we got up in the air, and she was allowed to unbuckle, she looked over at me and said, "Wait right here.  What you've been through with being a mom, too, has really touched me right here." and she laid her hand on her heart. "Let me go see if I can do something for you."

I heard her go to the aisle and whisper to the other flight attendants.  The discussion grew a little heated, but then she came back.  She shrugged and said, "well, I tried to do better for you, but at least what I could get is better than here.  Follow me.  We'll get you somewhere where you can get a little more rest since it sounds like you need it!"  And she took me into business class and gave me a row of three empty seats. 

Ahhh.. nice!  She returned again and again apologized for not being able to take me to the first class sleeper section like she wanted to, but I was thrilled with where I was.  Then she left.

The flight attendant for business arrived with several blankets and pillows to help me get comfortable.  She came back a second time and sat down beside me to say, "I've heard that you've been through some rough times recently.  I just wanted to let you know if you need anything, to call me.  Even if you just want someone to talk to, just call.  I am here for you."  Tears came to my eyes at the thoughtfulness and kindness of these flight attendants.  It was a special gift.  I told her that right now, I really could use a nap, but to please wake me for food since I haven't been eating of drinking well during the crisis.  She promised she would, and I settled down to rest.

Interestingly, having grown up as a MK who traveled quite often, I can sleep well in things that move - as long as I can lie down.  moving cars and trains lull me to sleep and feel familiar.  So, I slept well - better there than I had since the troubles began.  A few hours into the flight, she woke me to feed me, and I ate most of a meal, drank more tea, and settled back down to sleep.

But I could not go back to sleep.  With the edge taken off the exhaustion again, my mind began to race.  How was my husband?  Where was he?  How long till I saw him?  Was he really ok?  How had he coped with it all?  How much longer?  Was he hurt and not telling me?  I lay, at least letting my body rest while my mind raced.

After the next time that we were given food and drink, I sat up.  By then, I could see from the maps that we were getting closer and closer.  I sat bolt upright then, staring at the map, willing that little white plane to move faster.  I sat there, so aware that very soon I would get to see him, get to hold him... and the tears began to fall.  I sat silently crying - no sobbing or noise, just tears falling rapidly one after the other down my cheeks.

When at last I ran out of tears, I asked for a drink.  I was very thirsty!  Then I looked down at myself.  I had ran out of the house not even aware of what I was wearing.  I looked down and saw it was a shirt I had on for two days and it was now wet where the tears had landed.  It was time to think about landing.  So I quickly retrieved my bags and grabbed a spare shirt (I always pack a spare after I once dumped a whole glass of coke on my during a sudden turbulence and had nothing to change into!).  Quickly, I changed in the bathroom, and attempted some makeup on my face.  I knew better than to put anything on my eyes - I was likely to cry again.  Then I laughed - it probably didn't matter what I looked like, my husband was going to be glad to see me!

I returned to my seat and began to shiver.  My teeth chattered and I convulsively shook, all while smiling and crying simultaneously.  The flight attendant who had moved me came back to give me a quick hug and ask if I had slept.  I thanked her with all my heart, and she smiled and wished me luck.

The plane landed, and the seatbelt sign went off.  The flight attendants held back the other passengers and got me to the door first.  They hugged me again and smiled.  They waited the eternity with me until the door was opened, and waved goodbye as I ran off the plane and into the airport.  The last I heard from them was them calling, "Good luck, run fast!  Give him greetings!"  And I ran.

This airline won my loyalty that day - I have never been so kindly treated on a plane.  Not only were they kind and caring of my physical needs, they cared about how I was doing.  And when I walked off that plane, they had tears in their eyes saying good bye to me!

But above all, it was God's gift to me - their kindness.  I think without it, I would have been at risk of collapsing on that plane.  My body and my emotions were at their very end, but this kindness gave me the energy I needed to make it to the reunion in one piece.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Absolutely precious!