I was on my way to Norway from Indiana to attend my mother’s funeral. She died quite unexpectedly while traveling, which meant there were weeks from her death to having the body back home for burial. Weeks of intense grief and stress. During those weeks I experienced to be part of a caring society, I have told many stories of the many ways people we knew only vaguely were a great comfort. I did not know all the ways one could be a comfort to others before then, I guess that is another post.
Even so, I was totally exhausted. I was traveling alone, as the boys had their finals and my husband was staying with them. Of course there were delays. In the most unorganized way, as only airports can muster, we went back and forth between the gates at Newark, not having time for eating, being lined up and then dismissed for several times. When we finally were at a promising gate, I was so tired my legs were shaking. I tried to rest against a pillar while trying not to think sad thoughts as I had no strength for crying.
Then from the other side of the crowd a woman came over and stood beside me. She started to talk, softly, comfortingly, not asking any questions. Turned out she knew a wonderful person I had worked with, I got her card, and while we boarded the plane she disappeared. I never found that card again, and I my friend had never heard of her.
Then I got to my seat, a small crowded plane and a transatlantic flight. My heart sunk as I saw who I was to share the row with. A young couple with loads of hand luggage, guitars, bags, pillows, everything spreading into my seat too. I needed just a small private space, and it seemed that even that would be denied me. I sat down with a sigh.
Then it was as the scene changed before my eyes. Turned out the young man was blind, and his girlfriend was also taking care of things. Before long all the paraphernalia were stowed away, they both sent me warm smiles and settled into their seats, the girl in the middle, me in the aisle seat. Then she turned towards me and had a closer look. You are cold, she said, let me get you a blanket. And she did. Put it expertly around me, turned towards her boyfriend and went to sleep. I am normally a person who takes care of everything and everybody. It is not easy to help strangers though. Even so, when I needed it most, someone else listened to the small voice in their heart that showed them what to do and did it.
I do believe in angels, and if this was fiction I would have given this persons an added glow. They were humans though, as I am, given new possibilities every day to give a gift of comfort to a passing stranger.