My brother didn’t recognize me.
A long time ago, what feels like a long time ago, last April, I said when my treatment was over I was going to come visit. He lives near San Francisco. He has a swimming pool and an extra guest room. So I waited until I was sure I had some strength and I got a ticket on a Virgin Airlines seat sale. $79 each way. I was so excited. My first vacation since 2005! My first plane trip since 2002.
It was time.
Boy did I hate it. I had to use a cane and a wheelchair to navigate the airport. I had to use a face mask and be pushed to my gate. The flight was delayed by just under 2 hours, it was packed at the gate and there were no seats. I wandered past a person with their belonging piled on a seat and they just ignored me. So I had to ask if I could sit there. The person just picked up all their things and left. That meant that me and myself alone could sit there because no one else wanted to sit by me.
I couldn’t lift my bag over my head and the lady on the phone said to just ask an attendant for help. When I asked if I could get help, the lady at the gate said she would check it and took it away from me. And I’d packed so carefully to accommodate the convenience of not having to check a bag. Darn it! Narrow seats were the least of it, so I decided day 2 of ‘Be Kind to Strangers Day’ was going to be dedicated to not being grumpy to strangers, too.
So I smiled my way through having to say good bye to Mom and Liza miles before the gate and kissed their worried faces, smiled through security checks and the shoe thing, smiled at the x-ray and the guns and crowds at gate B11 and smiled and smiled and smiled by myself sitting with a face mask and gloves and, finally, sunglasses so no one would see me crying.
I smiled at my book I wasn’t reading. I smiled at the man who put his seat back abruptly and smashed my knees. I smiled at the poor fellow next to me who looked like a professional fighter and was far far too big for his seat.
I got to the airport and found a wheelchair waiting for me (thank you Virgin Airlines) and I got wheeled to baggage claim. I collected my carryon bag and sat down to wait. And wait. For quite awhile I waited.
Then I saw my brother walk right by me. Looking. But he wasn’t looking for this person. Laura wasn’t sick. Laura had hair and wasn’t in a wheelchair with a face mask. He was looking for ME. For Laura.
I love my brother. He knew about my illness. He knew what to expect. But still, I’m so glad there is someone in this world that remembers me. Laura. Plain old Laura.
I love that he will walk through an airport looking for ME. The real ME!!! That’s who he was looking for.
And so am I.