My eyes widened because I’ve rarely seen a plane so massive—with 42 seats! “I’m all by myself,” Trey said. “I’ll be okay. But I’d wanted to sit by Mike.”
I looked at his ticket: 42E. The rest of us sat in row 41. “Tell you what.” I smiled. “I’d just hoped for some alone time.” I feigned surprise. “And I’m sitting right by Mike. Would you mind trading?” He didn’t need to sit alone for almost 10 hours.
So we traded, and I got much more than I bargained for. The lady next to me complained about everything. “Why are we in the back?” she asked the man next to her. “Don’t they know who I am?”
Was she famous or something? “I love the back,” I said, trying to help her see the bright side. “We’re not too far from the bathroom.”
“That’s part of the problem!” She flipped her hair and set her designer purse on her lap. “I don’t want to put my purse on the floor back here!”
“You know,” I said a bit softer, “I think these seats are normally for crew members if we hit a rocky patch of air. I feel bad we took their seats. At least we have somewhere to sit.”
At this point, the woman resolved to hate me. “I want an upgrade!” She said it so loud, obviously hoping the stewardess with blonde hair could hear. “I want an upgrade!”
Ruby and Sky turned around not long after this. “Mom, you’re the one fighting cancer.” Ruby’s eyes darted to the woman on my left.
“You should be up here by our family,” Sky said. “One of us can go back there.”
“I’m all right,” I said. “It’s nice back here.”
“So much for an upgrade!” The woman next to me gawked, like I had leprosy, then she put in earbuds and leaned away.
It wasn’t long into the flight when Mike came over. “You should probably walk around,” he said. “You don’t want to get another blood clot.”
I nodded. Mike is the sweetest, most thoughtful man. He held my hand and helped me walk to the back area. “I wish my doctor could see me now.” I laughed. “But she said if she couldn’t stop me from skydiving …”
After a moment, Mike said something to a stewardess in the back. She was honestly one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen in person. “How was your trip?” she asked.
I’m not sure why, but I felt like telling her our story. “I’m fighting cancer,” I said. “Friends and family paid so we could take this trip to Italy because it was the biggest thing on my bucket list. It was life-changing.”
After telling her everything, I burst into tears. “I’m so sorry to cry,” I said. “I’m just so happy we actually got to go. I wasn’t supposed to live this long.”
She wiped tears from her own eyes. “There’s a seat open at the front of the plane. I want you to take it.”
My mouth fell open. “Oh! That’s okay. I want to be by my family. Just send me a friend request on Facebook! That’s all I want.” I smiled brightly because this woman seemed like the sweetest person on land or air.
“Okay! But then I’d like to give you TWO seats up there, so someone can sit by you. I insist.”
I could hardly believe it because I’ve only seen things like this in movies. Plus, my dad always flies first class—even holding diamond and platinum status. He’s told me all about the fancy seats, and I’d devoured every detail, thinking I’d never see them.
Indy came to sit by me first. She could walk behind the seats there was so much room! “We have a footrest.” She giggled. And we even got a free gift: handmade purses in the seat pockets. They came with chapstick and all sorts of fun beauty supplies.
“This is so exciting!” Indy squealed.
Each person got a opportunity to rotate up, and at one point, when Danielle the stewardess had checked on us again, I turned to Mike and cried. “They’re so nice,” I said. “People are so wonderful!”
He took a sip of his free wine. I couldn’t get over how fancy this was! Complimentary FANCY snacks. FANCY drinks. Curtains?! Reclining seats. This. Was. Living.
“Did you hear the woman in back? The lady who was complaining?” I asked him.
“I think everyone heard her,” Mike whispered. “You should’ve seen her face when she realized you got upgraded.”
A little while later, Danielle came back. “I sent you a friend request, and I’ve been reading some of your stories. They are so touching!”
This woman, a real-live angel, had totally made my year. “We’ve arranged for you to go to the Delta Sky Lounge for your layover in Cincinnati, that way you and your family can rest and get a nice meal.”
“I can’t believe you’re doing all of this for us,” I said. “You’ve made the end of our trip unforgettable. Thank you! Thank you so much.”
The sweetest woman, Patty met us at the gate and treated us like royalty. She led us around and ensured we made it flawlessly through customs. Then she brought us to the lounge and gave me a huge gift! “People like you and your family are the reason we love our jobs.”
I wiped tears from me eyes. “We didn’t do anything though. It’s all of you who have been so nice to us!”
She asked if she could get a picture, and everyone kept talking about how exciting the trip had been. Even when we got back home to Idaho the kids talked about everything that had happened. “It was amazing!” Indy said, clutching her purse to her chest.
“I think so too. I feel like that entire trip from start to finish was just somehow charmed. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”
“I’ll never forget it,” Trey said. “I’m so glad we got to go to Italy.”
“You’ll learn about Pompeii in school next year,” Sky said to Indy. “You can tell kids you’ve actually been there!”
My phone dinged. I’d just gotten a message from someone who helped fund the trip. Their mom died from cancer, and even though she wanted to visit Italy, she never got to go. “Your pictures warmed my heart,” the message said. “My mom would’ve been so happy to know someone else who’s fighting cancer got to take this trip.”
And so we rested in our own beds. My heart felt full to the brim. I met so many amazing people, and I just hope the family and friends who made this possible know his grateful we are. We truly had the trip of a lifetime. Maybe my friend’s mom was looking out for us … every step of the way.