Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Blessed Road Home

The morning after the race, I woke up at a rediculously early hour considering what I had done the day before (and after going to the victory party the night before). Karen's flight left much later than mine so I gave her a kiss goodbye and caught a shuttle to the airport.
I made it with no problem and I settled in at the gate waiting for my flight. After a coffee and a pastry I felt much better.
They started to call for boarding for my flight and so I slowly made my way over to the gate.
I congratulated a few other girls that I saw that were wearing their finisher's shirts and Tiffany's necklaces.
There was a woman in front of me in line with a mask around her neck to protect her from germs. It was a site that I am familiar with. My mother had to do the same thing.
She struggled down the hallway to get onto the plane. When the line stopped at one point, she put down her bags and sighed. She leaned back onto the wall and took a couple of deep breaths. These were also very familiar sites to me. She had the exact same weary look in her eyes that my mother would get after pushing herself to hard to keep up.
All of the sudden, all I could see in this woman was my own mother.
I asked her if I could help her. She looked at me and laughed a very efforted laugh and said, "Darling, you've helped me enough by running the race yesterday."
I was stunned, left standing there like an idiot while she picked up her bags and struggled on. I just couldn't believe she would act like I was the one who deserved to be honored. It's a dizzying feeling when a hero calls you a hero.
I almost immediately teared up and then had to face 39 rows of people on the plane with my sniveling crying as I boarded the plane.
I was barely even able to look for my seat, which is why I thought I had found the wrong one.
The charmed trip continued when I found row 40, seat C. It was one of those emergency exit seats. Exactly what I needed for this 4 hour flight.

Look at that leg-room!
It was certainly "Dr.'s orders" to stretch out the day after the race, so this was perfect.
So I looked around to make sure that I was at the right place and then I sat down. I called my sister and boo hooed to her for a while. Then, I noticed that the lady that I tried to help earlier was about 5 rows up and across the isle from me, so I could see her.
It made me start crying again. This time, I just buried my face in my hand and cried. Then there was a tap on my other hand, and I looked up.......
(A romantic comedy writer couldn't have written it any better, but I tell you that every bit of this is the absolute truth.... no exaggerations)
........ and there was the most gorgeous European man was holding out a Kleenex for me and he says,"I keep this for just such emergencies" in his most gorgeous European accent. OMG!!! You are kidding me, right! I actually laughed. I didn't mean to, I certainly didn't want to be rude, but if this scene was in a movie that I was watching, I'd say out loud, "oh yeah right. Whatever!"
Then, the best part......
...... he sits down next to me! Now if you know me at all, I am not the kind of girl who notices other men.... ever. So it was perfect that he sat down with his perfectly beautiful European wife. Some women would be frustrated by that, however I find that it really made what he said even that much more genuine. He was truly being what we all dream that those beautiful Europeans are like, and not some sleazy slime. It was perfect.
So I tried to compose myself for the flight.
When we were ready for take-off, the flight attendant came and folded down a seat that was right in front of me, facing me. My face was probably red and puffy (I'm telling you, I was disgraceful). He noticed my shirt and asked me if there was a marathon in San Francisco this weekend. I said yes and explained the whole darn story of how I got here. Poor guy. That's so not what he bargained for. As I told him, I started crying again...ugh. Then I told him that I was sorry, I didn't mean to unload on him like that, it's just that this was the first time I actually sat down and had time to think since arriving in San Francisco. He said, "oh no, not at all. You need to get it out." He touched my knee and said, "go ahead, get it out." Again, not a sleazy slimy move, I'm pretty sure I was NOT his type if you know what I mean. So I felt ok talking to him. I let out the rest of the story and he hopped up and got me some tissue from the bathroom.
What a mess!
Then, it was time for him to get back to work. He told me that if I needed anything, just let him know. It was very kind of him.
Then the guy next to me, across the isle piped up and said that his wife ran the San Diego marathon for Team In Training. I was so amazed. He and I talked for a long while about running and cancer awareness. Then after a long time, he mentioned something about his treatment. That threw me for a loop. After inquiring, I found out that he had just found out that he had cancer. He had just had surgery and would be starting chemo treatments as a precaution to be sure it was all gone in two weeks.
I just can't believe how many people are affected by cancer. It seems everywhere you look.
Then it was just about time to land and my little flight attendant guy came to visit me again. He sat down and strapped in and told me I looked much better. I told him thanks to his therapy session. He smiled and told me "anytime."
It was a great trip home.
My next flight was uneventful. Delta was doing a little fundraising of their own and offered pink lemonades for $2. All of the money went to breast cancer research, so of course I ordered one.
It was the perfect finishing touch to my perfect trip.

No comments: