Even though I was too terrified to ask, you knew I needed you. I was returning to my hometown to say goodbye to my dying father, and I didn’t know when I’d be back. This was a one-way flight for an unknown length of time. As I sat with my 7-month-old twins, you’d never think I’d left behind two little girls (ages 3 and 2). You had no notion I was bidding farewell to one member of my family while abandoning another.
You stepped in, however, as tears streamed down all three of our faces. In the middle of the voyage, my twins were weeping hysterically. We’d traveled from Washington to Minneapolis and had already spent much too much time in transportation. By the conclusion of the tour, we were all exhausted.
This day, our usual strict routine at home was entirely thrown out the window, and my kids were not having it. But why would they? They were just 7 months old at the time. They were fueled by my rage, and everything just blew out halfway through the journey.
The whole aircraft appeared to roll its eyes at my feeble effort to muffle their shouts. Everyone had the right to feel annoyed. Nobody knew that one of my twins cried continually all day, every day. She was one of those infants that was never content or relaxed. I was accustomed to ignoring her screaming, and I’m sure I did so throughout the time we were all imprisoned in that aircraft.
To be honest, I wanted to stand in the aisle and yell, ‘If you’re tired of hearing this crying, please come and assist me!’ I knew one of the primary reasons they were so agitated was that they both needed to breastfeed, but I couldn’t see how they could do it in the middle of an aircraft with no cushions to support them. I wasn’t even in the correct state of mind to attempt to work out such complexities, which is why I had bottles ready for them ahead of time.
You sat in the unoccupied seat next to me, taking the girl who was bouncing on my lap. While I handed you a ready-made bottle of milk, you cradled my child in your arms and sang her a lullaby. I was almost ashamed that I couldn’t do the same for my own children, but I was appreciative of your kindness at the moment.
You never made me feel inadequate. Instead, you showed the most empathy I’ve ever seen, and it happened at my worst hour. You danced and sang to her as if you were a part of her family back home, loving her just when she needed it. Loving each of us in the manner that we needed it at the time.
I was doing everything on my own, and you may have observed that my mood was bad. I was intellectually and emotionally exhausted. I couldn’t have cared for those girls on my own, much alone traveled across the country with them, in hindsight.
When I didn’t know how long I’d be gone, I couldn’t leave my exclusively breastfed infants at home. It seemed like a lose-lose scenario for all of us, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. All you have to do is get on that aircraft with your two kids and pray that the eye rolls and sighs don’t wreak havoc on your already poor self-esteem.
I’m not sure whether we spoke about the predicament I was in. It’s odd how words may be forgotten, yet how someone makes you feel can last a lifetime. Maybe an angel spoke to you so loudly that you felt obligated to answer.
Perhaps your mother instinct kicked in when you learned both of the wailing babies…belonged to me. Maybe you observed my pain and decided that someone needed to stand up. Maybe you just placed yourself in my position and did what you’d expect someone to do for you. Perhaps you’re simply a decent person who helps people whenever possible.
My greatest regret is that I didn’t get a picture of you holding my son. It seems that in today’s society, if anything isn’t caught on video, it never occurred. I’m not sure what your name is or where you’re from. I honestly don’t know what you look like. But I sure wish I could.
You rescued my sanity, as well as everyone else’s on that aircraft. Everyone else may be able to sit back and make judgments about my parenting abilities. Instead, you saw a mother in need and dived right in.
Flying with children is one of the most stressful situations I’ve ever had, and it’s reassuring to know that some people recognize that perfection isn’t always feasible. Sometimes I wish people would try more to assist or, at the very least, smile at a mother in distress.
I couldn’t walk around with a placard that said, ‘Flying alone with twins to say farewell to my dying father while simultaneously leaving behind my other two children.’ But if I could go back in time, I suppose I’d create that sign for myself. Grief cannot be seen with the naked eye, yet people could have been more sympathetic or compassionate if they could have seen the words.
Thank you kindly. Thank you for treating me with decency and kindness at a time when I most needed it. I hope you get this message, and that you remember us from our flying shot. I hope you understand you saved a mother from having a mental collapse at 35,000 feet.