August 30, 2012

current: "i have a metal plate in my head"

On the first leg of my trip back to NYC, I flew from Norfolk, V.A. to Washington, D.C. I did what I always did, I found my seat, sat, and hoped that the person next to me would not annoy me. Immediately, I knew that was not going to be a comfortable flight. The lady sitting next to me had trouble fitting her two bags under the seat. She seemed frazzled and told the flight attendant something that I could hear, but chose not to listen. Once the plane took off, her face turned red and she started breathing deeply. I thought she was going to get sick. I was thinking, "Please, do not vomit on me. Please, do not vomit on me." But then I started to recognize that this was something different. She was holding on tight to her water bottle. I turned on my air supply and asked if I could do the same for her. Immediately, something switched. I changed. I started talking to her, helping to take her mind off the turbulence. I told her to breathe. I told her peppermint helps. I only had gum and offered it to her. I asked if she was okay. She told me that she had a metal plate in her head. And she jokingly said, "It would have already exploded right?" And I agreed, "Yes. It would have." I asked her more specific questions. She told me that she had brain cancer, that she was a paralegal in D.C., but moved to Virginia for a slower pace of life, and was on her way to visit her sister. We talked the entire 45-minute flight. I touched her shoulder every time there was turbulence. I tried not to be creepy, but I think she appreciated it. I tried to make her laugh. I tried to take her mind off the "what if this plane crashes" thoughts. We chatted about nail polish, shoes, you know, fun, girl stuff. At the end of the flight, when we landed safely, I was more humble and more grateful, I thought that she was so brave. She left an impression on me and I don't think I'll ever forget her. After we parted ways, I prayed to myself, hoping that she'd have a safe recovery and that she'd be taken care of in any capacity she need. I remembered, a quote, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." I believe this to be true. It doesn't take much to help someone's day go along a little better, a smile, a seat, or a compliment.

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