Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Power of a Smile

I was sitting in the Minneapolis airport yesterday afternoon waiting to get on a flight to get home after 6 long days of flying. Since I had been in Canada the night before, I hadn't had a chance to turn my phone on after arriving in the US until around 1:30 PM. When I did turn it on, I received a text from one of my daughters that simply said, "When you land, call me ASAP"...that's never good.

As I dialed her number, a million thoughts ran through my mind...are the kids OK, did something happen to my hubs, is my mother heart started beating faster and faster. She answered the phone with a different tone to her voice than the normal upbeat, "Hi Mommy"...she simply said, "Hi Mom...where are you?" I told her I was waiting to see if I could get on the flight home. She took a big breath and then proceeded to break some tragic news to me. As I sat in my uniform amid a massive group of anxious passengers, I realized that my reactions had to be VERY tempered. As a Flight Attendant, passengers look to us for strength and encouragement during stressful times. If we fall apart, they fall apart. Likewise, if we remain calm, they are more prone to remain calm. So I held it together but must have gone completely white in the face because after I hung up, a concerned passenger asked me if I was OK.

My heart was broken. I was in complete shock and denial and I had to hold it together as I even more anxiously awaited a seat on an already oversold flight. I felt SO alone and helpless as I was dealing with two distraught daughters long distance, offering the best support I could over a cell phone...All I wanted to do was get home, grab my sweet daughters in my arms and cry with them.

I didn't make it on that flight. I had to wait 3 more hours (the LONGEST 3 hours, I  might add) for the next flight (which too, was oversold). My mind raced and I literally fought an internal battle with myself as I wandered the sprawling concourses of the MSP airport searching for a place to find some place to just be alone and collect myself. Impossible!

I finally settled on finding my next gate. As I entered that particular concourse, I saw that people were scattered about as they were waiting for their flights. A multitude of flights were cancelled and delayed due to bad weather on the east coast. A group of high school aged girls in matching red t-shirts were splayed out on the floor taking up temporary residency with their iPods, ear buds, pillows, high energy drinks and copious amounts of snack foods while they awaited their uncertain departure times.

Do you remember the old Disney movies where the queen looks into a mirror and an old hag looks back at her? That's how I felt yesterday...As I dragged my heavy laden bags, body and soul into the gate area, one  girl caught my eye and she simpy smiled at me like I was an old friend. Remembering that I was in uniform, my zombied stare quickly turned into a returning smile and instantly, something amazing heart was spirit was a bit lighter.

For whatever reason, that sweet young lady simply smiled at me. In doing so, and I'm sure not even realizing it, she completely lifted my heart, fed my hungry soul and validated my existence on this planet in that instant...OK, I know that's dramatic, but really, she did!

One sincere smile! That's all I really needed at that moment in time. A smile from a random stranger whom I will probably never, ever see again. A smile from someone who had NO clue that I had just received some horrible news. A smile from someone who was happy, celebrating her life with her peers and she took a mere second to share some of her happiness with a complete stranger who definitely looked haggard and exhausted.

I made it to my seat in a corner of the large area and the flood gates opened. I shed tear after tear after tear. I had been feeling so alone, helpless and even a bit hopeless. I cried tears of terrible sadness. But deep in my heart, I felt relief as I let my emotions out and held on to a complete strangers innocent gesture of kindness.

Eventually, (after yet another gate change) I made it on the "oversold" flight. Due to the weather and delays on the east coast, many passengers never made it to my flight so I got a seat. I was thankful.

I guess the whole purpose of this post is to simply say that a smile holds more power than we can sometimes imagine. One smile that dreadful day...that's all I really needed to continue to function in a very dysfunctional moment. The power that that one smile held was invaluable. It gave me the strength to continue on and to keep my emotions in check as I made it to the precious reunion with those I deeply love and care about. Together, we wept, but the surprising strength that I posessed was due in part to the gracious smile of a young stranger...

Monday, May 7, 2012

One More Day...

**UPDATE**The precious 2 year old granddaughter who was in the hospital, has died...There will be a triple funeral tomorrow (May 12th)

Yesterday was just one of those days. We've all had know, the ones where it seems that everything that could wrong does, indeed, goes wrong. That was yesterday.

 I got up at 3:00 AM in order to catch a flight to go to work in Minneapolis. My husband usually gets up and drives me 45 min down the canyon in the serenity of the wee hours...but yesterday, he asked me to drive myself because he had been up all night sicker than sick... I was exhausted before I even left home due to a very restless night myself. I then had to fly (for work) until 9:00 PM on virtually no sleep. So I was bugged, tired, cranky and basically just really irritated with life. I even spoke to my husband on the phone and made the comment, "I just wish today would end..."

When I finally got to my hotel and settled in for the night,I pulled out my iPad and got on Facebook to catch up on the happenings of the day. As I was scrolling down, I noticed a few postings from some people in my town who were expressing their condolences to a family in our community (2 adults and 2 of their grandchildren) who had been involved in a terrible car accident. They were driving up the canyon and apparently crossed over into the other lane colliding head on with another car carrying 2 adults and 1 child. Three people lost their lives yesterday. Their day was over. The driver of the car that crossed into the wrong lane and her husband were killed and the lady in the other car was pregnant and lost her unborn child.

When I heard this terrible news, I immediately called my husband who knew both of them very well as they all grew up in our small community. He was heart broken, as was I even though I had only met them a couple of times. They left behind 8 children, and their 2 grandchildren who were riding in the car with them, are both in the hospital and are hurt badly. So tragic. It made me really stop and take a look at MY "crappy" day. I was wishing that my day was over and for three precious souls, they will never know another day on this earth! I felt selfish and ungrateful. I thought about how each day truly IS a gift and it is up to us to make the most of it. So there I sat. In my lonely hotel room hundreds of miles away from the most important people in my world. I don't think I have ever felt so alone and so...stranded...I longed to hug each of my children and grandchildren. I ached for the loving arms of my sweet husband and I just needed to thank my mother, once again, for all she has done for me throughout my life.

I write this post with a humble heart. I pray that whoever reads it will take a moment to express their love to their family and friends and I pray that we may all learn to cherish each moment of our precious days and never, ever take them for granted. In an instant, we can be gone. I feel horrible that I wasted even a minute yesterday, feeling sorry for myself and wishing that time would pass quicker. You can never say, "I Love You" can never hug someone long enough and kind acts and deeds can never become old. I, for one, am blessed beyond comprehension. I certainly don't feel worthy of the blessings that I take for granted every day and I have new resolve to remind myself daily of the bounteous, merciful gifts showered upon me by a loving Heavenly Father who, despite all of my faults, loves me enough to give me "one more day" to be with those I love, cherish and adore.

Life is precious, life is a gift and life is fragile...