When Henry told me he was dying and I needed to come immediately I paused and thought what dying truly meant to him. Was his heart really pumping the last few volumes of thick blood through his veins before exploding into a mass of useless tissue? I didn’t believe it for a minute. Henry and I have been on a rocky road for years now and I was sure this was some ploy to get him back in my good graces. Death was an awful term to throw around.
I only plan to stay in Cleveland one day, maybe two max. Missing work during tax season was a big no-no at my firm and this sudden family emergency seem skeptical to the partners that counted on me. I planned to barrel through files during the three hour flight and down time at the hospital while Henry was in surgery.
A bouquet of lavender and vanilla whirls into my vicinity at the same time a pale, petite woman plops into the seat next me. She was smartly dressed in a white, crisp cotton blouse accented with a Gucci scarf, pleated khaki capri’s and bejeweled sandals. Her blonde bob was pushed away from her face by a delicate headband that appeared to be made of intertwined rope. She gave me a warm smile as she placed her bag under her chair.
“I so hate to fly”, she says “if only there was an easier way to go somewhere far, far away without defying gravity, right?”
I nod, grin then return to answering emails on my BlackBerry before the air crew make me shut it off.
“It’s so lovely here in Los Angeles, I hear that it may snow in Cleveland tonight. Oh what a terrible time to say goodbye to someone you clearly never understood. The beginning of winter makes death so much harder.”
I drop my phone in my lap and peer at the stranger next me. “I’m so sorry for your soon to be loss Miss, my condolences.”
“My loss? Oh no dear you are the one I am grieving for. Are you not going to Cleveland to say goodbye to your brother?”
How could she know my brother is sick? Or what the hell I am doing? She just sat next to me a minute ago…
“I should apologize, I try not to blurt these things out so suddenly, I know it makes people uncomfortable. You are struggling, yes? This is not a scheme to get money out of you, he is mortally sick and will die.”
“Lady, you don’t know me or my family. You just sat down next me, we have never met before. I have no idea where you are getting this bullshit story… do you always surprise bomb people this way?”
“Unfortunately yes, I have a problem filtering my thoughts when they are so strong. I tend to blurt them out before they get tangled with the other voices in my head. I did not mean to upset you, I will remain quiet the rest of the flight.”
And, she did. She crocheted the entire time while I simmered over her comments. I couldn’t concentrate on my work and day dreamed out the window about Henry and I when we were kids making snow angels in the back yard.
The plane landed on a fresh sprinkling of new snow and I hurriedly packed my bag and waited eagerly to depart the plane and rush to the hospital. She then turned to me, with tears in her eyes.
“Do not think this was a wasted journey, he knew you loved him.” She said, rose and proceeded to walk down the aisle using her yarn as a tissue.
I slumped back into my seat knowing she was right. I had ignored the text messages that had been flooding my phone since we landed, knowing they were bad news.
“Ma’am, are you okay?” the stewardess asks me, I was last person on the plane.
“Yes, sorry” I say exiting with my head dropped to the ground below me. I couldn’t look up for fear that I would collapse and sob uncontrollably in the gate tunnel.
Emerging out into stale air and Cinnabun smell of the terminal I see the lady from the plane speaking to another bewildered person. Hopefully she had better news for them then she did for me.