I'm so sorry we weren't properly introduced. I wish you could meet me under different circumstances, rather than on a flight from Dallas to Los Angeles. You might have even liked me if we had met in a restaurant or on the subway. What you see is a young woman with a fussy baby sitting near you. (ha! If you only knew. Not only do I look younger than I am, and have more kids than normal, but there aren't words for how this year has aged me.)
You clearly show your utter annoyance and displeasure with me by huffing, puffing, and sighing every time my baby cries out. Which, I'll admit, is more frequently than even I would like.
I'm standing up in the middle of a plane, perched in front of the only space possible which is the restroom in the middle of the plane. I squeezed myself up against the seat opposite you every time someone tried to get to the restroom because I can already tell that you loathe sharing space with me.
I stood, swaying with my baby, trying to soothe him. I prayed silently....asking God for help and wisdom, because quite honestly, it had already been a LONG day. I had been up at 4am feeding the baby, and then got up at 5am for the day. I hid in the bathroom so I could pray and read my Bible and not disturb the baby after getting him back to sleep. I cleaned our room at the Ronald McDonald house so we could check out. I had already done the flight from NY to Dallas and I was worn out.
I decided to thank you for sharing your space with us, albeit begrudgingly. You interrupted me....and I mentioned that you seemed disturbed since you repeatedly sighed with displeasure. When I explained that my baby boy has cancer and was flying for his treatment, you said words that shocked me.
"I didn't sign up for this," you said, referring, I suppose, to a flight with a fussy baby and a momma rocking him back and forth.
Well. Neither did I. I never signed up for spending my postpartum weeks deciding whether to remove my son's eye or to flood his body with poisonous chemotherapy. I did not request to forego counting milestones like clapping and crawling, in order to count tumors or make treatment decisions. And I can assure you, every single part of my being would rather be at home making dinner for my family than on a plane with my baby so sad and uncomfortable.
Even though I didn't "sign up" for this...it was sifted, through the hand of the Creator, for me.
Our meeting is really an instrument of grace. It's hard to see that, and even believe that at times. That's what faith is: believing that God exists, and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Even when evidence suggests the contrary.
Our meeting reminds me that there is always more going on than what we see. It reminds me that every person I see has a story that I can't see. It reminds me to be kind when all I see is the hard outer shell of someone hurting.
And it also reminds me just how good I've had it. I have sat by so many who have been kind, understanding, and sympathetic. It causes me to be so grateful as I returned to my seat, tears streaming down my face, as the gentleman next to me started playing with a fussy baby and even got him to laugh. It reminds me to be grateful for the sweet angel I met named Margaret, who not only showed extreme kindness and empathy on the flight from NY to Dallas, but even offered to be a new friend for me in the city. (The kindness preceeded the pain...I did notice that.)
I'm sure that I could have handled our meeting in a better way. I'm learning. I'm still figuring out how to navigate life in the midst of some heavy things. But in the end, I know even our meeting and my tears were all part of my journey. And who knows? Maybe in some small way, I have been a grace in your life too...and perhaps seeing a momma with a fussing baby will never be the same for you again.
The momma with the fussy baby