I had just said goodbye to my daughter. Sitting in the terminal waiting for my flight, I pondered. The following day would be the anniversary of my husband’s funeral, and our wedding anniversary. I picked that day on purpose, thinking it would make for an easier anniversary. Right.
I busied myself with some work, balancing my laptop on my lap (hence the name!) and began to review the week’s tasks. That turned quickly to staring at nothing and going over the previous week spent with my family. I wondered when I might be seeing them again. Long distance families make for very difficult relationships. Or should I say, long distances make it difficult to have a relationship. We lean on old fantasies, only to find they are puffs of smoke and we fall down. So it goes, and I realize that I must discover new ways to build those relationships with those precious ones that I love so much.
Right in the middle of my simmering pity party I suddenly hear a CRASH which jerks me back to reality. I look up just in time to see a woman fall to the floor, holding her forehead. She is accompanied by a man, guessing it’s her husband, and a young girl, probably her daughter. The scene becomes surreal. He exclaims, “Oh my God!” and pulls off a shoe and tears off his white sock and quickly presses it to her head. The young girl stares in shock at the blood that is now freely spilling down the poor woman’s face.
Come to find out, the daughter had been sharing a picture on her phone with her mom, and mom walked right into a large, metal marketing display, resulting in one heck of a gash on her forehead. I glanced around and could see, amazingly, that no one was moving to help them. Attendants at the nearby gates just looked up, and then back down again, resuming their work. I jumped up, stuffing my laptop, glasses, tablet, pen, candy, and personal problems back into the laptop bag and rushed to the woman. I suggested to the husband that we get her into a seat, so we all grabbed the heaps of baggage which lay strewn all around them (blood spatters all over the floor) and with one hand holding her arm, and another dragging suitcases, we made it to the closest row of seats. I suggested to the daughter that she race to the restroom and grab a big stack of paper towels and moisten a few of them. The husband, looking grey and a bit shocky himself, mumbled to me: “We’re on our way to Africa today. We are missionaries.”
I asked the woman if I had her permission to take a look at her injury and she nodded her head. I gently took the sock from her hand and could see that she had quite a cut and it was bleeding heavily. I looked at the husband and said, “It appears that no one is coming to help us. I’m going to suggest that you call 911. There is no way you are going to want to get on a plane for Africa without having your wife checked out.” He looked at me and said, “I think you’re right”, and dialed his cell phone. He seemed relieved to have a job.
In the meantime, I pressed a thick stack of the wet paper towels to her forehead and told her how sorry I was for her. Her daughter, with tears in her eyes, asked what she should do. I suggested that she hold the towels to her mom’s head until the paramedics arrived. We continued to talk quietly with her, making sure she was calm and I prayed that she did not have a concussion or more serious issue. How incredible that they were about to depart on a fantastic journey, and that this should happen.
Finally, we could see the flashing lights of the ambulance approaching. They were coming directly to our gate, and parked next to the airplane which would soon be taking me home. When the paramedics arrived, I excused myself and wished them well, and returned to my seat in the waiting area. I watched as they attended to her. Blood pressure. Pulse. What year is this? Do you know where you are? Who is the president of the United States? I heard her respond in a faint whisper. She passed the test. One paramedic looked up at the husband and said, “She is going to need stitches. We need to take her to the hospital.” The husband looked over at me and he smiled faintly and said, “Yes, of course. We wouldn’t want to try to seek out medical care where we’re going. If we need to delay our trip by a day or so, that’s what we’ll do.”
As they shifted her to the gurney and prepared to leave, the husband and daughter came over to me. He said, “You were wonderful. Your kindness will always be remembered.” The daughter said, “Thank you for being so nice.” I smiled back at her and said, “I would only pray that someone would do the same for me.”
I received a book today, on the anniversary of his funeral, from Josie, a Stephen Minister and grief counselor from church. (Thank you, Josie.) It says, “Nearly every grieving person I’ve talked with has told me they’ve become more caring and compassionate with others who experience losses. They know what it’s like to lose a loved one and are much more sensitive to other people’s needs.”
Interesting. One thing I know for sure, when people give of themselves, they also receive.
Helping others won’t bring my husband back. But as one person in my book said, “But every time I see someone else experience a little healing, I feel a little bit of that healing again myself. It helps to see some good coming out of my sorrow.”