Of course, part of the problem is that she caves in to both of these disruptions which is part of the problem. But self help and boundaries constitute another blog post.
So the Matron is groggily happy on the airplane. She has her magazine, work material and laptop. Fully loaded. The man sitting beside her is a youngster -- looked twenty-something --and they said hello and disappeared into their own worlds of reading.
He did comment when she took that second Xanax. But he was funny and nice.
As the plane descended and yours truly realized she was probably going to live, she made a comment of relief to her fellow passenger and a joke about sleeping without children. Then, because he made eye contact and laughed, she asked if he had any?
Fellow Passenger: "My two year old daughter just died three months ago. This is my first week back at work."
Friends, what can you say to this? The Matron instantly started to well up.
Fellow Passenger: "Do you want to see a picture?"
He fumbled through his wallet and retrieved an image of a beaming, beautiful toddler with a big bunch of curls and a radiant smile.
Matron: "Oh, I'm so so sorry!! Was this a sudden illness?"
No. It turns out she had a genetic disorder and died at the Mayo Clinic after the bone marrow transplant didn't gel.
But the fellow passenger started to cry, just a little bit. He talked about his wife and how she's devastated and about their four year old, who keeps asking when his sister is coming home. By this time, the Matron is also a bona fide puddle and gave up all pretense of not crying.
Not sure what to do, she hugged him. And they both cried a little bit more. She'll always remember that very young man facing tremendous adversity and his willingness to be honest, open and vulnerable even with a complete stranger. May we all find someone in the crowd who will care for us.