Sunday, December 30, 2012

Everyday Heroes Hidden in Plain Sight – Pt. 2

Courtesy A. Squires

I entered the plane breathless for the moment I could deplane. As my new friend's story unfolded, I found myself dreading the moment we'd land as much as I dreaded Hurricane Sandy's turbulence. 

The plane lurched and bounced. We each grabbed at the other's hands, drew back a bit, and let out nervous half giggles-half sighs when the plane evened out. For a few minutes, I had forgotten I was afraid.

An expectant mom weaved to the back of the plane trying to beat the waves of morning sickness chasing her to the lavatory beside us. We groaned kindred groans silently praying the plane would fly smoothly for her sake as well as our own.

"May I ask what you do for our country?" 

"I've just gotten back from Iraq.”  Her calm tone implied it was about the same as a trip to the grocery. She spoke of warm relationships with Iraqi people. She alluded to successes and failures experienced while there.

Courtesy D. Scott
Confidence oozed out of her pores. The fraidy cat in me blushed over my tendency to develop the vapors with the least provocation.

A spring deployment to Afghanistan overshadowed anticipated Christmas celebrations with her family. The light in her eyes dimmed a bit. She admitted to some apprehension about the future and explained how her family would care for her children and foster tot. She winced when she spoke about the hardships of being away so often and so long.

I waxed bold and asked specific questions about women coping with the rigors of life in the field. She laughed, “You'd be amazed at what you can do with eight ounces of water and baby wipes!”

I told her about my inner fraidy cat. My idea of roughing it involved trendy lugged soled hiking boots and a walk over to the glassed in elevators at an Embassy Suites hotel. She rewarded me with quick, easy laughter that captivated my motherly heart.

The plane gave another jolt. Again, I had forgotten all about hurricanes, turbulence, and plane crashes. We agreed our present circumstances were claustrophobic at best. 
Courtesy T. Parker

She chuckled and told me about her favorite way to fly. In a helicopter. The kind with no doors – for easy out and easy in. She talked about the freeing sensation of flying low and fast with the wind against her skin. Her words made me dizzy.

To everyone else on the plane, she was just another weary traveler thankful to be headed home before the storm shut the airport down. To me, she was an everyday hero hidden in plain sight. One who commiserated with my flying phobia even though she liked flying on door-less helicopters.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I did what was, for me, a heroic thing. I told her I was a person of faith and asked if I could say a prayer for her right then and there. Tears flickered and threatened to dampen her lashes as she nodded o.k.

I wrapped her in a motherly embrace and thanked the good Lord above for honoring me with the cramped, claustrophobic seat in the back of the plane. How else would I have met the hero hidden in plain sight? I thanked him for my friend in passing and begged him to follow her with peace and protection now and through all the days of her long life.

I asked him to bless her family and their time together. Lastly, I prayed Godspeed over her and her soldiers while asking God to bring peace to troubled lands through the work they do.
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
As the minutes ticked down, we talked about the longing for comforts of home. I asked about care packages and gathered advice about items to include and ones to leave out. I promised our chance meeting would make a difference even if I didn't know how just then.

The gentle touchdown came all too quickly. I knew life would carry us on to where we were headed. I would soon be a faint memory in the rear view mirror of her life. She, however, would be indelibly inked on the memories of my heart.
Courtesy B. Creasy - 2010
I am combining an effort to honor this soldier with the Twitter campaign honoring the memories of the Sandy Hook, NJ shooting victims. My friends at Home Educating Family's blog offered the chance to share my vision with you on their site.  

Join me in #26acts of kindness for men and women in uniform. Fraidy cats can accomplish some awesome things when we work together!

To visit me at Home Educating Family's blog for more information, click their link below:
Home Educating Family


  1. Beautiful! I love you, my friend! You have a way with words and a very giving heart.

    1. When I grew up, we never passed a member of the military hitch-hiking his way home. Makes me really sad the world is such as it is these days. I remember the last time we picked up a serviceman. Mom and Dad had a long talk about whether it was safe before we doubled back to get him. The one thing I love about flying is the chance to do what I did last October. And, the friend love goes both ways. :-)

  2. you, my friend, are no fraidy cat. You have a heart of gold and I am so thankful and blessed to know you and call you a friend. You have made a difference in so many lives. Looking forward to seeing how I can help in #26acts of kindness for men and women in uniform. Blessings.

    1. I wish I were not fraidy cat. Imagine how scary that would be! ;-) I'd like to think I'm making a difference, but it's so easy to feel lost in the cyber-noise. I really do hope this information will trigger at least a few to reach out!

  3. Carol Anne, You are such a good example! Thanks for sharing your heart and encouraging others to reach out. We are honored to have you on our blog team.

    1. Jenny, the honor is all mine. I can't believe I'm part of such an incredible team!