I honestly thought I could keep walking, but my leg started shaking and then began giving out on me. Every time I took a step, my right leg grew weaker and weaker until it started giving way. “I need a wheelchair,” I told Mike, defeated at the airport. And when he walked away, my eyes grew misty before I did one of the worst things ever: I started feeling bad for myself. Mike bounded away, embodying every bit of the golden Lab that should be his spirit animal. I thought of how he should be with a woman who can run and hike, someone who can walk more than a short distance without getting tired…. Someone who has more energy than the Energizer Bunny.
Mike showed up with the wheelchair, and I soon sat down and set my violin on my lap. After my emotions finally calmed, I really looked around the airport and realized how unhappy so many of the people looked. Sure, maybe all of them aren’t battling a terminal illness like I am, but they each had their challenges: some easier and some much worse.
“I want to do something fun,” I told Mike. “Are you in?”
This was a silly question because Mike is ALWAYS in. So I handed him my phone and asked if he could push me and videotape us while I played my violin until we got to our terminal. “What will you play?” he asked.
“‘Orange Blossom Special.’” I beamed. “It’s supposed to sound like a train!”
So I played that as we chugged toward our terminal. And as I looked out at everyone’s faces, they transformed from boredom to excitement, from confusion to wonderment, and from sadness to joy.
After we “parked” with my wheelchair at our gate, Mike and I chuckled about our shenanigans, and I thought I might laugh so hard that soda would come out of my nose. At that moment, a man with a peg leg came and sat right next to me despite so many others seats.
We talked about exactly what had been bothering me—as if he’d read my thoughts. “If I’ve learned anything, it’s that we can’t take life too seriously.” He lost his leg in an auto accident decades before, and despite looking like a Viking straight from an adventure novel, he said things Mike and I needed to hear with so much kindness and tenderness.
“Here,” I said, digging through my carryon. “Here, I’ve been waiting to give this to someone for four days! You’re the person. This is for you.”
He looked at the book “Two More Years” a bit puzzled.
“She wrote it,” Mike said, smiling.
The man grinned and put it into his bag. “Thank you. Really.”
So, yesterday I remembered once more the magic of meeting people at the right time and the right place—and I also saw first-hand the power of finding the good and bringing it to others no matter what we might be going through ourselves.