Over the last year, I’ve done quite a bit of traveling for work. I’ve been enjoying it because although I travel alone a good chunk of the time, that’s really when I’m exposed to new things. With nothing familiar around me, not even people, I not only learn about myself but about others and their trials and tribulations of life. With all the flights i’ve been on, bars i’ve sat at waiting for those said flights, and even sales reps that I’ve worked with, I constantly encounter people of all sorts and stories of all kinds. What i’ve learned recently, is that you can teach somebody a thing or two no matter the age or experience you have under your belt. One day, if not a handful, you’ll be just what somebody needs for that moment in time.
I’d had a long week of traveling. I went from Boston, back home to Ft Lauderdale, then to Seattle, spending about two nights in each city. My flight home from Seattle was at the crack of dawn and at times when I fly I get anxious. Anxious because I just want to get home and I’m on the other side of the country, a long day of travel is ahead, guaranteed. It’s 4AM and the streets in Seattle are empty. It’s dark out, cold, and drizzling. But still, no matter the time or weather, I happily smoked the last legal joint I had without a care, hoping to calm my travel nerves. If only all cities were like Seattle, it’s wondrous.
I cozied down in my seat thinking about the last month and all the flights I had been on. I was a little annoyed at the fact that I hadn’t even gotten home to the east coast yet, but had to pack up two days later to head back to the west coast. Yep, you read that right. We were on the descent into Dallas Fort Worth Airport where i’d catch my connection to Ft Lauderdale. I normally keep to myself during flights, sleeping to pass the time. I was just waking up and don’t remember how we got to talking, but the older woman next to me had struck up conversation asking, “Is Dallas your final destination?”. Naturally, I went into the discussion of where I live and what I do for a living, that this was just another regular plane ride for me. I had then asked her, “How about you? Is Dallas your final destination?”. She declined and said “Oh, no, I live in Seattle. I am heading to Tennessee due to unfortunate circumstances… My 18 year old nephew has taken his life.”. After that, all of my small, petty issues that I grumble over seemed so minuscule and non-existent compared to others problems. You think to yourself, “How can I shed positive light on this stranger, this person I just met, who’s looking for answers and going through pain?”.
I took a moment to think about my response, offering condolences that spared me some time. I told her, “You know, there may not be a reason for why he took his own life, and you may never get answers, but just know that he’s at peace. Maybe he was struggling with personal issues and felt things wouldn’t get better.”. I continued to say, “In my teens, there were times when I’d get down on myself for things that didn’t go as planned. You wonder when things will get better, and question if they even will. Sadly, your nephew may not have seen another way out. Now, he probably feels in a better place, and he’s happy. All you need to do is stay strong for the rest of your family.”. I had been so caught off guard that I was surprised at the words that effortlessly spewed from my mouth. I usually don’t do well being put on the spot, but I could tell this woman needed some comfort, and some perspective from someone that was closer to her nephews age. So I did my best. We are ALL doing our best.
She looked at me with gentle eyes, a genuine smile, and said,
“I am really glad that it was you sitting next to me on this plane, and I truly mean that.”.
I let her know that I was glad to offer her a listening ear and shoulder to lean on. The fact that I brightened her day meant more to me than I could’ve imagined. She could’ve been sitting next to anyone on that plane, pondering questions, not getting answers. But no, I was there for her. When you look to the right of you, and look to the left, you don’t know what demons those around you may be battling. But what you can do, is offer comfort for those looking for it. It will mean the world to them, and will feel like the world to you.
If you or someone you know is battling depression, suicide is NOT the answer! Visit; SuicidePreventionLifeline.org or call 1 (800) 273-8255.