I spent a wonderful, relaxing (despite the time I spent stuck in San Francisco) weekend with Super Mom in San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach. If you have not spent any time in this coastal Central California area near wine country and home to Cal Poly University I highly recommend it. We strolled along the sleepy streets, had lunch and dinner near the beach and thoroughly enjoyed our brief time away from blistering pace of our normal lives.
Early this morning she got on a plane bound for San Francisco to resume her busy work schedule and I ended up on a plane headed to Los Angeles. We had hoped that I would get the opportunity to hop on her flight to see her in action as a flight attendant but as is usually the case in the unpredictable world of air travel, even though there were open seats on her plane, there were some weight restrictions in place (yes I may not have checked any overweight bags but I certainly made up for that with my own girth) which resulted in my diversion to L.A.
The story should have ended with a typical, ‘I got on a plane and now I’m home,’ but what I felt the moment I dropped stepped onto the plane and settled into my seat was atypical. Most of my friends and family will tell you that I’m not easily flustered but a thought crept into my mind that caused a cold sweat to form on my brow.
What if, in the grand scheme of things, Jen and I were not meant to be on the same flight because today was the day that one of us was going to meet our end?
As the cabin door was slammed shut and that thought started to formulate in my head I experienced something similar to the phenomenon that medical professionals refer to as Adult Separation Anxiety Disorder. Separation Anxiety normally occurs in young children who find it hard to cope with the thought of being away from their primary caregiver. Although I may not be a child I certainly act like one at times and at that moment the only emotions that I could feel were first fear and second sorrow – which very nearly prompted a grown man to begin sobbing like a little baby.
When you find yourself in this situation the ‘What If’s’ really begin to play games with your mind. What if I never see my wife again? What if she never sees me again? What if our kids never see either of us again?
Those thoughts were brief and I did my best not to become hysterical but instead calmed my breathing, bowed my head and prayer and found thinnest edge of sanity to plant my feet before saying, “God, I will accept whatever you have planned for me and my family.” Once that thought replaced the hysteria and anxiety I was oddly at peace.
It’s hard to explain both the emotion and the serenity of knowing that you have no control and that you must accept whatever happens in the time that an airplane leaves the ground until it finds its way back down to terra firma and your own feet hit the pavement. It is a humbling and unsettling feeling that can either make you stronger or completely break you down.
I’ve had a long life but I’m not ready to leave. But no matter what I want I know now more than I realized yesterday that we are all living on borrowed time from the moment we take our first breath of this life so it is imperative that we enjoy it, be productive, be compassionate and to love all people as fiercely as possible so that when our time does come it will truly feel like we are leaving on our own terms.
How’s that for a dark end to an otherwise happy story?