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The Plane Ride

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I just returned from a week long vacation with my kids in Disney World.  I felt the need to do something spontaneous and fun.  I told them about the trip four days before the flight.  We all needed a fun distraction and Disney World fit that need nicely.  Every day, we were up at 7:00 in the morning then crashed back into bed at midnight all 6 nights.  Our biggest decisions were what to ride next, what show did we want to see, with which Disney character did they want their picture taken, what was going to be our next snack, should we go to the water park next, should we watch the fireworks from Main Street or from the hotel, The Contemporary....   Their bodies and minds were occupied the whole time.  My thoughts would drift to missing Michael and wishing he were experiencing this with us all of the time.  Any time I felt emotional, I pushed the tears down because I wanted the whole experience to be positive for the kids.  We ate, laughed, screamed on rides, and walked about 100 miles!

Packing for the trip was fairly easy because they all did their own bags without any help from me.  One of our friends picked us up to take us to the airport and all of our bags were ready to load into the car.  I was cleaning out my purse and throwing things away when he arrived.  I had pulled my driver’s license out of my wallet so that it would be handy when it came to curbside check-in and security.  I unknowingly threw my driver’s license into the trash with a handful of scrap paper.  We arrived at the airport to check in our luggage at the curb, when I realized that I did not have my license.  They went ahead and checked in our luggage and printed out the boarding passes.  The attendant took my kids inside to security and waited awhile with them while I raced home to find my license.  I realized on the way home that my license was in my kitchen trash can.  When I returned to the airport, the attendant found me and handed me my boarding pass.  I made it through security just minutes before they were finished boarding.  Needless to say, the kids were all breathing a sigh of relief when they saw my face.  I kissed and hugged Julia, knowing that she was probably the most fearful of all.  We were able to laugh , but with some discomfort, as we boarded the plane. 

Because we were flying Southwest, and were late getting on the plane, we were not able to sit next to one another.  I was seated next to a window, which turned out to be a good place for me.  After about 30 seconds of being seated, I felt sadness coming over me.  I pulled some tissues out of my purse in preparation for the tears that were beginning to build in my throat.  I took some deep breaths and tried to relax a moment from the stress of the previous 30 minutes.  I was thankful and amazed that we were all together, flying somewhere to have a good time.  As the plane taxied to the runway, I began to feel so alone… then as it began take off, I had a picture perfect flashback of what it was like to sit next to Michael on a plane during take off.  We had a take off routine on every flight we were ever on together.  We would turn our heads to look at each other in the eyes and smile a thankful smile.  He would then take my hand with his and we would lean our heads together while he prayed aloud for our protection, the protection of the children, and our trip.  After he would say Amen, I would say Amen.  He would take his other hand that was not holding mine, and reach for my shoulder to pull me closer, then kiss me on my forehead or cheek.  He would take one last loving glance at me, then turn his head forward, lift his head up , then tilt it back to close his eyes during the rest of the take off.  We both closed our eyes, kept silent, and held hands until the plane was settled into its cruising altitude.  It always felt like a sacred moment.  Going on trips with him alone was always a special time.  We loved our alone time.  For us, the flight or the drive ,were some of the best moments.  It was always so quiet.  We would usually speak in lower tones, relax together, and, if flying,  have a glass of wine, a cocktail, or a good ole coke.  We would read books then stop periodically to share something that resonated with us then discuss it.  Many times, we felt rested and refreshed by the time we got to our hotel.

 I very rarely flew without him, but if I did, we had a similar routine that we would do at home.  Right before we would get into the car for him to take me to the airport, he would wrap his arms around me and hold me while he prayed over my safety and the blessing of the trip.  If the trip included the whole family, we would hold hands in a circle and he would pray…. Sometimes he would pray aloud for us while he was driving us to our destination.

My memory was so clear in that moment of take off, that I could almost feel him sitting next to me.  In fact, the seat next to me was empty because there was a larger man sitting in the isle seat who had purchased both seats.  It made it easier to imagine him next to me in that vacant seat.   He was always so comforting to me.  I missed holding his hand.  I missed hearing him pray in his soft voice.  I missed feeling his shoulder next to mine.  I missed being able to turn my head and see him relaxing next to me.  I missed that feeling of oneness that we felt together.  Flying alone… it was another first.  I felt bare and alone, but at the same time, I felt empowered, being the one in charge of these three precious children, and thankful for the opportunity to take them on this wonderful trip which would bring them joy, laughter, and beautiful memories.


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