I leaned back into my seat pushing my head back into the head rest. I take the deepest breath I can breathe in. I begin to feel my stomach churn, a wave of nausea. Another deep breath.
I turn my head and open my eyes. A middle aged man with a thick leather coat sitting next to me has his eyes closed too. He has his head in his hands. His name is Roger, I know his name because he told me. I say the only thing that feels loving to say… “ Thank you for telling me your story.” He looked at me and said, “ Thank you for listening.” No other words needed. I noticed shortly after that we both started crying. About the same thing.
Before this breath, I had just sat down on a United Airlines flight to Costa Rica. Roger looked at me before take off and asked, “ Are you going home for the holidays?” “No,” I replied. “Costa Rica!!!” I said with excitement. Looking at him I said, “ And you?” He looked at mewith fear in his eyes and said “Yes” I’m going home to face my family for the first time in a long time. I haven’t been home in 8 years. “ I could feel Roger’s pain as he spoke these words. I haven’t felt like celebrating since my son died. He was shaking his head now and pushed out these words “my 9 year old son died a couple of years ago.”
“ I looked at him and said “ I’m sorry, I’m so terribly sorry.” He continued telling me the details of the how he saw this story pieced together. He was a single dad since his son was 2. He raised his son alone. And a couple of years ago while he was driving his car with his son, Roger reached over and gave his son a high five. And during that high five he lost control of his car. This happened at 3:00pm on a Wednesday. His son would never speak to him again, or walk again, or get out of bed again. In the accident Roger came out with no injuries, his son severely brain damaged. Which would eventually 2 years later kill him. He didn’t need to tell me, I could feel the guilt he was still carrying around like armor around his heart. I closed my eyes and prayed that he may forgive himself.
He reached into his bag to grab his phone and said “you are going to see his picture whether you like it or not. And I told him I would love to. A beautiful blonde haired boy. He looked just like the angel he is. What I noticed was Roger petting his son’s picture with his thumb. He brushed his face as if that touch could possibly bring his son back just long enough so he could touch him once again.
That’s when I leaned back in to my seat. I realized that what I need to feel more than my joy about my Costa Rica adventure was I needed to feel the pain of the man sitting next to me.
I cried this morning with Roger. It wasn’t a burden to me. It wasn’t something I wanted to sweep under the rug. I haven’t always been that way. I used to be afraid to feel pain. Mine and yours. I still have this fear today but my willingness to be emotionally honest wins most of the time.
Today, Roger and cried together. I stayed in it as a prayer of gratitude for all the people that have been willing to cry with me. When I have been lost. So incredibly lost. Like him.
May we all find our way Home.
Diana, Soul Activist