The Empty Seat
Sometimes kindness comes when we least expect it and for me, today, it came in the gift of an empty seat. I had been at the airport a couple hours, had a bagel and written for quite a while when I realized I was the last person to board my plane. A full flight, a voice had announced, and so, I made my way through the corridor, down the narrow aisle and spied my assigned window seat. Within seconds of saying excuse me to my seat mate, I heard my name called, the unexpectedness travel of a voice, akin to a flash of lightning. I paused, looked up, and saw the eyes bright with joy. One of my most favorite physicians, sitting alone and before she could even ask, I fell into the seat beside her, delighted with this stroke of luck.
To have a doctor you connect with is not terribly uncommon, but to feel a pull and connection to that person in a way that makes you crave her friendship does feel unusual or at least, has been new territory to me. On a recent visit, we had talked and talked, less about medical issues and more about our similarities, both of us raised in small towns and both of us navigating the path of having special needs children. It is quite a magnetic bond most will tell you and brings powerful connections, whether it be with the woman I met selling Christmas trees last year or today, with a well-educated physician who called my name aloud on a full airplane minus one empty seat.
You see, in that second, she chose to give up her final hour of quiet and freedom. She too had been on a girls weekend and re-entry would be coming soon and swiftly. She gave me the gift of her time and a few pretzels and we talked and talked and talked some more. I thought my weekend of camaraderie had come to a close this morning in the anonymous airport, but I was mistaken. Here she was, my doctor and new friend, the one that I had tried to meet for lunch several times and our schedules had made it impossible.
After a fun weekend, the week ahead weighed heavily on my heart; my extra special Amos both turns three and begins school this Wednesday. Yes, the fear and weight of these truths has plagued me more than I care to admit. On this day, in that moment, I could not have needed an hour with anyone more. A stroke of luck, some may say, but I know better. I know better. An hour of connection, a few tears shed and laughter shared, one mother new to this journey and the other, wise in her years of experience, both of us happy with the gift of connection and me, especially thankful for the gift of that empty seat.