Kimberly, you must have noticed that I needed some help.
Because of a flight delay, we had all been waiting at Gate 15B much longer than we had anticipated. A 1-year-old and a 3-year-old who had already exhausted much of their snacks and bag of tricks still had a 3 1/2 hour flight ahead of them. And I, without Lane, had a 3 1/2 hour flight ahead of me with a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old. I, who hates flying.
You must have looked over and seen me trying to gather our belongings and my strength, neither of which was being harnessed very easily.
Get the baby in her sling.
Put my purse around my shoulders.
Wrap my carry-on around my other shoulder.
Keep it together.
Get the backpack on the 3-year-old.
Keep it together.
Hold the 3-year-olds hand and wait in line.
It was around Step 5 where things began to unravel.
Kimberly, you must have noticed my 3-year-old develop a very strong and sudden aversion to her beloved owl backpack. You must have seen me choose no to that battle in that moment, throw the owl backpack on my shoulder on top of the rest of my accumulating gear, and the 1-year-old in a sling.
Kimberly, something must have urged you over to us, because it was in this moment, in this chaos, that you walked up to me… “Can I help you right now?”
I kind of laughed… “Is it that obvious that we are in distress?”
You didn’t let me turn you down. You instead stepped into our debacle: “Okay. What can I do? What can I grab?”
By this point, my 3-year-old had fallen to the ground and the only thing keeping her upright was my death-grip around her wrist. “Well, if you’re really willing to step into this, then I will absolutely accept some help. Can you grab the owl backpack?”
You followed me over to the queue of people patiently and not-so-patiently waiting to enter the plane, and stood by my side.
“Thank you so much for helping us.” Oh no, my eyes unwillingly began to well up, the stress and the delay and the pressure and the flying and the girls and the orneriness fracturing my steely resolve to succeed at this day.
Whether because of grace or because of the distraction of my Brennan spinning in front of you, now holding your hand, you didn’t comment on my welling eyes. Thank you, because I think if you had spoken it, tears would have flowed over the edges. I was trying too hard to prevent that from happening.
I asked, “What’s your name?”
“Well Kimberly, let me just say that you are my angel today. Really.”
And as we stood side by side in the line, inch after inch of forward progress, you won Brennan’s heart. You talked to her about the adventure of flying, what activities we’re going to do on the plane, and when you mentioned Elsa and Anna, Brennan knew that the two of you were soul mates.
Kimberly. We had picked seats in the very last row of the plane- row 28. You had a seat in row 15. But you walked right on past 15B, by now in a deep conversation with my Brennan girl, chatting about whether you each like giraffes or zebras more. You walked us clear back to our row, got my girl buckled in while I untangled Ellie and I from our multiple carry-ons.
You touched my arm and whispered “Come get me if you need anything. I’ll be praying for you guys.”
I barely managed to get thank you to escape from my lips, for fear my facade of strength would crumble underneath the wheels of the plane. I think I said amen.
Kimberly. You are a gem.
The plane took off and 3 1/2 hours later, the plane touched down.
Being in the very last row, it took a little bit of time for it to be our turn to clear out. As I was slinging Ellie, putting my purse on one shoulder, our carry-on on the other and once again convincing Brennan to put her owl backpack on, the row in front of me cleared, and once again, I saw you, Kimberly.
You waited behind for us. Through the minutes, staying steady in the waves of people clearing the plane. You waited for us.
“I just wanted to be sure that you three got off of here alright,” you said.
Remember, we had never met before. You simply made the decision to step into a moment and step into our need.
“Gosh, yes, thank you. Can you carry the owl backpack again?”
We walked off of the plane. I once again mentioned that you were my angel that day. Because you were. You needed to understand that.
You mentioned something about having a sweet spirit about me and that it was your joy to help us.
I had never met you before. And you helped us.
You saw a mom in need of help. And instead of rolling your eyes and worrying about the peace we would disrupt on your flight, you walked over. Instead of watching this poor young mom dealing with her littles, you asked what you could do to help.
And Kimberly, you gave me that little bit of strength I needed to make it through. You caught my eye, gave me a little nod that said I am with you in this.
And then, you were with me in this.
You acted. You grabbed our owl backpack and my 3-year-olds hand. You engaged us in conversation. You walked us to our row. You waited after the flight.
Small things? Maybe.
Meaningful things? Absolutely.
Kimberly, thank you for the sweet reminder to step into situations. To get out of myself and see someone in need, no matter how great or how small, and engage in a little piece of their story.
And so, To Kimberly from Colorado on Flight 409 from Denver to Charlotte, Thank You. Thank you for stepping into our story and our moment of chaos. Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone, and thank you for sharing your strength.