I’m in seat 23D on a flight to Seattle. I am in this seat by chance…or am I? Originally in a middle seat further back, I’d been reassigned so a couple could sit together. A happy little miracle: I’d wanted an aisle seat in the first place.
Intermittent turbulence makes me pause from reading. It causes me to be present; to notice things around me. My seat mate in the middle is reading Revenant. The woman by the window is asleep. The guy across the aisle watches the latest Jurassic Park movie on his laptop. The woman in front of him drinks vodka and seltzer water with a splash of something (cranberry juice?) that makes it a sheer pink color. She traces the plastic cup with fingernails painted black.
The co-pilot sounds like the laissez-faire host of NPR’s Marketplace. “We’re experiencing some bumpy air, folks, so keep those seat belts fastened while we hunt for a smoother ride.” My sleeping row-mate has pulled down the window shade to block the sunlight. I wonder what the terrain below looks like. Perhaps we’re passing over mountains.
Thoughts of my beloved Aunt Jo Anne bump at the edges of my consciousness. What is she doing right now? Is she hanging out at some heavenly kitchen table with my parents—cracking up at one of my father’s jokes; matching my mother’s beautiful smile with one of her own? I imagine her hearty laugh, followed by her signature sigh and “golly.” I’m going to miss her.
I anticipate seeing my sisters and other family members—the positive side of attending a funeral. As we fly west gathering hours, a brightening occurs. Time change. Time change. Time change. I cherish the smoother air. Touchdown is gentle: a mere kiss upon the tarmac. We’ve been in good hands all along.