Honest, hope is a verb, ramblings

To the man in 8B

To the man in 8B,
I did not want to talk to you.
From the second I sat down next to you though, I kind of knew I was going to end up talking to you but I didn’t know why.
When you got up about halfway through the flight I took a deep breath. I stretched out a little, but couldn’t get settled. Something was stirring up inside and I knew that even though it was something that I detested-I was going to talk to someone on an airplane.
You know this now- but I talk all the time. To my tiny humans, their parents, to my friends, to my boss.
All the damn time.
On an airplane I like to read or watch movies or sleep.
Not talk.
But, I felt the need to ask you about your book you had been holding in your hand for the whole flight but never opened.
And then the dam broke.
You proceeded to tell me story after story about your writing, your 42 years as a lawyer and everything in between.
And then you disagreed with me when I made the statement that we are all connected. You refuted my statement with story after story about people who were truly lonely.
But, man on plane next to me, I hate to break it to you; you are the reason none of those people were truly lonely.
In all of your stories about your days of being a lawyer and of standing in for those who had no voice, you frequently said that you were the one they trusted, that you minced no words with them.
I hate to break it to you man on the plane next to me, but you were their voice when no one else was.
You gave people the hope that it all would end, that there was a way out- even if that way out was death.
As we talked I saw your heart breaking for the people you had helped in your past. I saw your joy when you talked about the moment when you got to lift 13 years of shame off of someone’s shoulders. I saw you be grateful for a moment that you had the ability to tell long forgotten stories in your writing.
And I had this feeling for a moment, that you were passing something down to me, as I gathered you and your wife had no kids.
You said a few things to me that stuck with me and will stick with me.
You told me that I was going to get burnt out doing what I do. And that you and my mom were in it together in battling the sicknesses that had been dealt to you. You reminded me that it was ok to have two brains- a writing brain and a teacher brain and that I had to shut off the teacher brain to write. You told me that my parents had done one good thing and that was putting me in the world.
You told me that you normally don’t talk to people on planes either- that you normally just shut down on your flights to and from Seattle. That you’ve made 20 of those flights essentially in the last year and you always bring a book but never read it.
And the very last words you spoke to me were this:
“Good luck saving the world one child at a time- remember Obama was a three year old once”
I think you believed I might actually change something. I think you believed that I had that ability.
I think maybe, you thought I knew what the hell I was doing.
I think you thought that because all those things are true about yourself.
You have changed something.
You know you had the ability to do it.
And you knew and know what the hell you are doing.
To the man in 8B,
You have lived an incredibly full 67 years.
I know you don’t know how many more you have left; but I want you to know this:
You have changed people. You have slayed dragons on the behalf of those who were unable to pick up a sword. You have brought people peace who thought they had no ability to feel that feeling.
You have stood by someone and let them be lonely but not alone.
I wanted to tell you all of this- but I felt in my depths that you’d be overwhelmed by those words. That the plane was your safe space from everything that was happening and had happened in your life and the fact that you told me those stories and listened to my words meant more than I can say.
To the man in 8B,
You matter.
With love,
Meg

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