My bags were safely in the overhead compartment. I had managed to pack reasonable clothing in between paralyzing fits of sadness that left my brain completely thoughtless. Then came complete clarity. I need some leggings and a coat and my toothbrush. Next my body would seize and freeze in place as a wave of tense numbness passed over me and endless amounts of water just kept pouring out of my face. How much more is left in there?
In my seat in the very last row, so I could maybe be alone, the same waves came and went. Intense despair followed by numb clarity. These people must think I’m batshit. I hate crying in public. I love sunsets from planes. Numbness, shock, denial. Why do plane rides make me feel deeper thoughts? Oh God. My dad is dead. Then I burst into a crying fit.
My dad died exactly five hours before I buckled my seat belt. I was on my way to Tulsa from Los Angeles, not exactly sure what I was supposed to do next besides avoid looking like an insane person.
It was an amazingly hard thing to do, much harder than I thought it would be. Yes I was thirsty, but the thought of snapping out of my zombie trance to ask for coffee seemed disrespectful to my dead father. I was tired and had a pounding migraine. My eyes were swollen from being rubbed and from having a gallon of tears released from holes the size of a pin point.
I stared out the window. Two ladies in the next aisle kept staring at me. I noticed them when they boarded and I could feel their eyes on my every whimper and huff to catch my breath. I’m sure they were thinking, someone must have died. That’s what I would think at the sight of me.
Holding in my sobs made my jaw clench and a shooting pulsing pain up was beginning to shoot up the sides of my temples. The pain distracted me from the shock. I looked over at the two ladies. They looked like sisters or maybe mother and daughter. Their brown hairstyles matched their preppy-conservative attire of pastels. They attempted to make eye contact and flashed smiles of sympathy. My face wouldn’t let me return it. I looked down at the floor of the plane. I noticed my pants were dirty. I didn’t really check them thoroughly before I put them on.
I was too worried about a remembering to pack a toothbrush. I must look like a damn nutcase. A real mental patient. They are probably wondering why I was left unattended by my caretaker. The truth was, I felt mental. I felt like I should not have been allowed out in public by myself.
“We are beginning our decent to Tulsa, if you could please stow your tray tables and bring your seats to their full upright position. We know you have a choice when flying and we appreciate your decision to fly American Airlines. The local time is 8:20 PM and the current temperature is 42 degrees. If Tulsa is your final destination we welcome you to the city, and if not please stand by for your connecting gate numbers.”
I looked out the window over Tulsa. There were mostly clear skies in all directions except for one spot. There was a tower of white chunky clouds. How bizarre. Yes, I’m almost there! A bright crooked bolt of lightning shot out of the cloud! Whoa! Then another monster blue beam flashed around the cloud. It's him!
“Hi Dad. I’m here.” I whispered.
“Do it again.”
I pressed my face up against the window with both my hands cupping the sides of my eyes.
“Do it again!” I know it’s you.
Again and again—It just kept going. He was there. He could hear me. For a moment I felt almost happy.
The plane started to circle down to the runway. The cloud flickered with heat lightning and slowly moved out of my sight as the plane turned and then landed. It’s going to be okay. But these people definitely think I’m crazy, now that I’m whispering out the window.
L. Marie Cook is the author of Lay Me Down, a humorous chronicle of a decade of sexual exploits, and has contributed to BestFriends.org. She lives in Los Angeles with her dog, Nugget.