We are home. We were traveling, Ax and I, to see my dad and stepmom, his grandpa and grandma, and the flight back was bumpy. So bumpy that the pilot actually came on the loudspeaker and told us we had nothing to be concerned about, which concerned me.
Ax was watching a cartoon on the in-flight entertainment system and the whole world could have exploded with shaking and noise and he would not have noticed as long as the show stayed on, which it did. I, on the other hand, had broken out in one of those spontaneous cold sweats, nausea, tearing, the primal feeling of imminent death.
I instinctively grabbed for the hand of the plumpish lady beside me with fake French manicure nails. She giggled, but did not let go. She could see I needed help.
I began to pray, in a way, softly repeating to myself, “I love my mother, I love my father, I love Anita. I love my mother, I love my father, I love Anita. I love my mother, I love my father, I love Anita.” And then I realized I was chanting a mantra I’d invented long ago for exactly this situation, the bumpy airplane ride, when as a little girl I used to fly back and forth from parental home to parental home every few weeks for visitation.
I remember that little girl me thinking that if she was going to die she wanted her last thoughts to be of the people she loved. That thinking of them would help her through the fear and aloneness on that airplane journey, help her feel better facing death.
They were my gods, my parents. They were everything to me. I loved them unconditionally, did not question their perfection. I wanted to be with them, both of them, all the time, and have them be happy. Happy with me, happy with each other, and happy together. And today when I visit my dad’s family, my half-sisters and brothers-in-law and their children and all I wish we could all be together and happy all the time too.
I wish we all lived in the same village, on the same street, all my family members and my in-laws and my sisters and their in-laws and their children and friends and we all could get together for bits at a time, a dinner here, a playdate there, and then retreat to our homes.
But that is not how we live. How we live is in all different cities airplane rides or long car trips away from one another and we get together every so often where the stakes are high for a good time and the rides can be so bumpy I feel like I’ll die.
And then something happens, and I see there’s help for me coming from out of nowhere, just how I need it, even if it doesn’t look like my fantasy family village. There are strangers who are friends in the making and friends who are family in the making.
There is love to be felt and perfection to be felt from all kinds of sources and situations. I am loved and I am loving. I am grateful to be among the living. My life is okay and my family is okay just as it is. And though yes we are all dying we are not dead yet. I love this life. I love this life. I love this life.