It was a normal day like hundreds of days before it. Today’s only difference was that it was my husband’s turn for a business trip. He was to be gone for just a couple of nights. He was getting the kids off to school like he usually did and then he was heading to the airport to meet his coworkers.
I received the usual quick texts from him first telling me that he was boarding and then the one that told me that they were closing the airplane doors and that he would call when he landed. I lightheartedly told him not to breathe in any of the “coronavirus.” He smiled (using an emoji, of course). That was received at 12:22 pm.
Who knew that merely 25 minutes later, my world would get a jarring that I wish on no one?
“I need help” – Received at 12:47 pm
I received this text message from my husband, whose flight left at 12:29 pm. Still raw from the local crash that happened not even two months prior, I couldn’t breathe when I saw those words come across my phone. I immediately typed back:
“Are you ok?”
I am not sure what I expected to receive in return. All I knew is that his tech-y watch would occasionally send me a help message on accident, but they were not in this format. Those included “SOS – send help” and were always accompanied by his GPS coordinates and two images – one taken from his phone’s front camera and one taken from its rear camera. None of that was in this message – “I need help”
“Baby? Is everything ok? Are you on the plane?”
Still cannot breathe. I sat at my desk trying to find any clue of flight trouble but could find nothing. I searched the airline page, the airport page, the Houston news . . . NOTHING. I was relieved in a sense, but still sick to my stomach. I walked into my boss’s office, phone in hand, trembling with tears streaming down my face. I could barely get the words out of my mouth but showing her the phone helped to explain my emotional state. She sat me down and started looking online herself. She let me cry and work through all the thoughts swimming through my head. I returned to my desk and tried to compose myself. My trembling fingers finally found the keys that brought up the flight tracking webpage. Eventually, it updated that the flight actually took off at 1:03 pm.
“Ok self . . . the plane is in the air, they wouldn’t update to show that status if it weren’t true. Right, self?”
I stared blankly through streaming tears at that screen for the next 74 minutes watching that tiny icon of a plane click across its flight path, praying that the message was all a fluke – technology gone bad – anything but my worst nightmare playing out in front of me. Thinking about the goodnight kiss he gave me last night, thinking about my leaving for work this morning and having to say goodbye through the bathroom door, wondering if that was my last chance for a hug and a kiss from him.
“I’m okay! My phone sent a distress signal!”- Received at 2:22 pm
And with that message, my gut-wrenching afternoon was over. He apologized for making me worry (although it wasn’t his fault in the least) and he called as soon as they deplaned. I begged him to as I just needed to hear his voice.
I am lucky to have gotten my husband back into my arms a few days after this experience. Others having similar experiences have not been as lucky. I can’t help but wonder how it felt to get those calls from the World Trade Center or from Flight 93 back in 2001. It was hard to stop my mind from going to memories of those that I, myself, have lost tragically or suddenly.
You see, I waited most of my adult life to find this man, and I am absolutely NOT ready to let him go. I know that I don’t have a say in the matter, but I do know that I will continue to love him hard for all of the remaining days that I am gifted his presence.