Sam, I am…

planeI fell (I didn’t just sit) into my window seat on the plane.  It was the second of two flights on my journey home from a few much-needed days away from life.  My first flight was delayed due to thunderstorms.  If all went well, I would be back home again in Indiana by midnight.

 My mp3 player sat anxiously on my lap, awaiting permission from the captain that “portable electronic devices are now approved for use.”  More than anything, I craved a few quiet moments of resting my eyes (since I can’t sleep on flights, unfortunately) listening to Jim Brickman.

A man in a Bears jersey sat in the seat next to mine.  I’m not sure I can sit next to someone in a Bears jersey, I quipped.  I quickly learned that my seatmate was actually a die-hard Colts fan, but he was also a longtime fan of Walter Payton, whose number he wore.

We danced around a few casual conversational topics while waiting for takeoff, then I asked a seemingly simple question that opened the door for a not-so-simple answer.  Are you traveling on business or pleasure?

Well, he said as he took a deep breath. I had to take my daughter to Florida this morning.  Sam was on his fourth flight of the day.  That very morning, he returned his 1.5-year-old daughter to her mother, his ex-fiancé.

Just a few months ago, Sam returned home to find that his fiancé and daughter were missing.  They were found two weeks later in Florida.  Millie, the fiancé, said she was moving out, breaking the engagement, and taking Caitlyn, their daughter.

I wanted to raise Caitlyn right, he said.  His first marriage failed after a few years when she cheated on him, leaving the couple with shared custody of his first daughter. 

I honestly don’t know why she left, he said of Millie. We never fought.  More than anything, I just want answers.  Hopelessness exuded him.

Over the next 2 hours and 600-some miles, Sam poured his hurting heart out to me.  I listened.  I nodded. I hurt right along with him. 

As we taxied to the gate in Indianapolis, I offered Sam my business card and said, Sam, I am so sorry you’re going through this. Please let me know how the custody battle goes.  I’ll be praying for you.

Who knows if I’ll ever hear from Sam again, but I’ve fulfilled my promise to pray for him many times over.

Do you ever wonder why God brings people into your life?  I don’t think it was a coincidence that I sat next to Sam on that late-night flight from Charlotte. 

I may not have gotten to spend the quality time with Jim Brickman that I craved, but in a moment where I otherwise felt like I had nothing to offer, I was able to lend a listening and sympathetic ear to someone who so desperately needed to talk.

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~ by Serena on February 3, 2009.

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