Home, and back to all that is familiar and good, not the least of which is my full-powered hair dryer.
But as I sit, three faces come to mind... the faces of almost-strangers. And I wonder how they are getting by, if they are finding common ground, if they feel a sense of familiarity at all.
His eyes were wide as guided two little children down the aisle, all the while juggling a stained manila envelope, a bag from Burger King and his boarding passes. Looking, checking... and checking again. With almost a look of defeat, and a false sense of certainty in his voice, he guided the little girl to the window seat, past two other passengers. Looking down at the boarding passes once again, he pointed to the two center seats on opposite sides of the aisle. I couldn't help but speak you are all sitting apart? Nodding his head he replied it was a very last minute flight.
With an empty seat in our row (by the Grace of God), and a little swapping around, we had the three of them together. The Dad passed out the chicken nuggets and tried to built excitement about their very first plane trip. Sister and brother sat with wide eyes, excitement shaded with a touch of fear, and maybe just a little hope. Eric leaned over to the little girl, sitting right next to him, and tried to take her chicken, offering a joke and a smile. It was all she needed... this little one, seven going on twelve. She talked his ear off for hours, and told him everything. How her Dad now had custody, and that she didn't really want to go. She shared with him that she had her Mom & Aunt's phone numbers tucked deep in her pocket. She chatted, he listened... and then they played with empty plastic cups and laughed at each other. Three seats over, Dad dozed... perhaps finally feeling like he could let himself rest for a few moments. Turns out that he drove from Maine to Boston the night before, and hopped on a plane to Las Vegas first thing in the morning, and heading back the very same day. All I could think was what love...
Before we landed, those little blue eyes turned to me and she repeated the story. I urged her to think of it as an adventure... to give it a chance. I reminded her that her Daddy really loved her, and the change might be fun. Because what do you really say to make her feel like life might turn out just right after she has left her mother more than half-way across the country?
It was hard to say goodbye. Hard to say goodbye... to strangers.
Harder yet to drive those faces from my mind, so I don't.
I just remember... him standing there as they waited to leave the plane, just saying over and over again Thank God they are coming home. And noontime the next day, I pictured them arriving back in Maine, and racing off the bus into the waiting arms of family that had been waiting their return. And later? I could see a celebration complete with laughter and tears, because while she balanced a cup on her head like a party hat, her Daddy promised her a party.
God bless you, little family of three. You are wrapped in my prayers...