Last Thursday, my husband and I were flying home after visiting his parents in Arizona for a few days. Traveling on Southwest Airlines is a grab your own seat kind of flight with no assigned seating. Since we had a short period of time to reach our connecting flight on time, I wanted to sit up close to the front if possible, even if it was a middle seat. A nice gentleman took our bag and lifted it up into the overhead bin and I took a seat between him and another man he was traveling with. My husband on the other hand, hates to sit in middle seats so he meandered all the way to the back of the plane so he could find a window seat, and as fate would have it, it was a perfect move on his part!
On most trips by air, I will have my head buried in a book or with my headphones on listening to meditation music but this time was very different. It was one of those times on a plane where I am so grateful that I was placed next to someone because I knew there was a greater purpose unfolding.
The gentleman who was to my right (the nice guy who put my bag away for me), introduced himself and his colleague. Soon his colleague dozed off, leaving David and I to get to know each other.
David is one of those people who has a natural knack for putting people immediately at ease and he is very curious in a very honoring way, not nosy but truly interested. He asked me several questions and before I knew it, I was telling him about a book I am currently writing, The Mourning Light: Life After Child Loss, which is slated to be published within the next thirty to forty-five days. As I briefly brought David up to speed on my story of growing up in a grieving family, I looked at him and saw tears running down his face. I knew intuitively that I had touched a deep chord within him… someone close to him had died.
He shared that his brother died unexpectedly at the age of nineteen, leaving a fourteen year old younger brother (David) fearful of his own mortality. His older sister died of cancer a few years ago, and just this past Valentine’s Day, his mother passed away.
I knew right then and there that David and I were destined to meet on that plane that day. I am a light for those who grieve. I know my life purpose is to be available for people to share their stories and to give voice to their grief, and that day on the plane was supposed to play out just the way it did. If my husband had been sitting with us in that row, I am not sure we would have had the beautiful conversation that we did. If his colleague had been awake and conversing with us, I am not sure that our connection would have been made. I believe that everything happens for a reason and this time was no different.
I was so honored that David was willing to share his story and to be open enough to shed some tears for the family who no longer sit on this earth and I was honored that his loved ones’ spirits were able to come through and surround him with their loving energy as he spoke of them.
David gave me a gift that day also. He helped me prepare for what I was going to do the following day – volunteering at Hearts of Hope children’s grief camp. Our conversation on the plane helped me to remember how important it is for families to be able to tell their stories and to speak of their loved ones by name.
Grief is a powerful emotion that ebbs and flows and has no timeline.
If you know someone who has experienced the death of a loved one, reach out to them this week and let them know that you care. Ask them to share a memory. Speak of their loved one by name.
Be a Light for those who grieve.