The flight attendant walked the aisle collecting two dollars for headphones. Traveling alone on a four-hour flight without the benefit of my children for entertainment, I dug out cash from the carry on bag stowed securely beneath the seat in front of me. I was down to my last ten and a one. As I reached for the ten, the flight attendant whispered, “Just give me the one.”
Maybe he’s seen that look before — the glassy stare and quick calculations of weary travelers thinking, If I watch the movie, can I still afford to get my car out of long term parking? Maybe he sensed I’d been run through the mill of ugly humanity lately and just needed to know there are humane humans left out there. Either way, it brought tears of gratitude to my eyes, down my cheeks and into my complimentary pretzels.
I’ve been doing that a lot lately. Not eating pretzels — fighting my reoccurring case of Tear Ductitis. The doctor warned me it’d flare up now and then, with no cure in sight.
Both kids needed eye exams and new contacts. Thank God they take Visa. Tears fell on the receipt as I signed it.
I flipped through a ten-year-old photo album. I barely remembered those chubby cheeks, piles of Happy Meal Toy clutter and bare butts. I cried for not appreciating what I had in front of me at the time.
There was a photo of my friend, Rhiann — the most radiantly, joyful young woman I’ve ever met. She died last week after a fast and furious battle with cancer. She was 38, with a husband and two young daughters. I’m still crying.
I took the kids grocery shopping this week and let them pick out the cereal, snack foods and lunchmeat. The self -checkout zombie yelled, “Your total is $238. 22. Tears fell on the electronic signature pad.
I turned on the news and watched a fighter jet fly through the skies. I think of my little boy, the one half way through high school, who wants to be a flight surgeon. And I cried.
I looked at my little girl, the one half way through 7th grade, and reminisce what life was like as a 7th grader. God help her. I cried.
I stared at the blank computer screen wondering if I can possibly put another worthwhile word into print, when I open my e-mail and read, “I’m sending your column, Heroes at the Bus Stop, to my daughter who had to leave her abusive home in the middle of the night with her three small children to save their lives.” I cried.
I tried on a pair of pants that fit two weeks ago, but didn’t two minutes before I was due to walk out the door… It’s been said crying is good for the soul, but it certainly doesn’t burn any extra calories.