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The day after the Memorial was the day I had to leave. Somehow time had slowed down that weekend. I arrived on Friday afternoon and departed on Sunday afternoon - a mere 48 hours and yet, it somehow felt like I had been there much longer. I had grown so close to this beautiful family. Ben’s sister and I spent some time sitting together, both writing in our own journals and crying. We weren’t talking to each other but it was so nice to just be in the same space - both emotionally and physically. It was so beautiful just to be there in that moment, in the peace and tranquility of her lovely home, remembering and honouring this man that we both loved. We didn’t need to share any words with each other to be totally connected in our hearts.
When it was time to go, she drove me to the airport and we said goodbye. We hugged and cried but somehow both knew that this was not an ending. This would only be the beginning of a close friendship. I felt like I was saying goodbye to a sister. I headed into the tiny airport, through security, and found a place to sit down to wait for the boarding call. I think the tears began before I was even fully in the seat. Though the weekend had been filled with emotion, and there were some very sad moments, it was one of the happiest weekends I could recall in my recent memory. I think the magnitude of it all just hit me like a wave and I let the tears come, not being one to be embarrassed or feel the need to hide my emotions. I didn’t feel my usual pre-flight anxiety in the same way I had two days before. I don’t think my brain or body had the capacity to feel any more than I already was. Soon it was time to board the plane.
I found my seat and began nervously glancing at every passerby, wondering if they would be in the neighbouring seat. I didn’t really feel like chatting with a stranger and was armed with my headphones and various activities to keep myself occupied. A woman stopped at my row, saying she was in the window seat. Once she was seated she asked if I was from Calgary. I said that I was and she asked if I had been visiting family in Ontario. I smiled and paused, unsure of how to answer. I told her a very abbreviated version of the story. This is what she said to me; “I saw you crying in the airport and I was praying for you. I said ‘Lord, wouldn’t it be cool if I was sitting next to her on the plane?” and here we are!”. And the tears began again!
I ended up telling her the entire story. I cried and so did she. She told me her story. She cried and so did I. We talked the entire time, more than five hours in total! It was such an incredible thing. I had no anxiety whatsoever about the flight. Though I was planning to zone out and spend the flight reflecting on my own, at no time did I want our conversation to stop. She had a very calm, sweet presence and the kindest eyes. I know this meeting was orchestrated by God. I had the chance to process so much by talking to her. She was such a blessing to me, and I believe I was a blessing to her too. We had been through some very similar difficult times despite our age difference and there was a great deal of understanding that we shared. We walked together for a few minutes in the airport before parting ways. She had another flight to catch and I was headed home. We stopped and prayed together and hugged before saying goodbye. I left that airport with my heart filled nearly to bursting.
My best friend Tiffany picked me up at the airport and we went to have dinner together so I could tell her all about my incredible weekend. I was like a little kid, trying to recall all the details of something fun and exciting. I felt light. Happy. Joyful. Grateful.