Friday, April 13, 2007


Last week was highly emotional. To go from normal life to hopping on a plane to visit my dying grandpa, to being with dear friends who live far away, to dealing with difficult relationships—is it any wonder I’ve been crying at the drop of a hat? But it’s strange, all of this crying, because I’m really not a crier.

I was holding it together fine, mostly, until security in San Jose. I was flying home with baby b., and since security at O’hare had been really smooth, I was completely unprepared for them to make such a fuss over my backpack full of baby goods. Having just spent a full day with my family—which is another blogpost entirely—to say that I was feeling exhausted and raw would be an understatement. I’ve got my shoes off and I’m holding on for dear life to my 19-pound bundle of joy while his stroller and backpack go through the scanner.

The friendly-enough looking security woman says, “You need to make this formula up now. You can’t bring this thermos on the plane.”
“He’s not hungry now. And it’s a four-and-a-half hour flight.”
“It doesn’t matter. You can’t bring this.”
“Um. Well, how will I make formula for the baby?”
“That’s really not my problem, ma’am.” She says, dumping the warm water out of the thermos.
That’s when I start bawling.
“You can buy a bottle of water at the gate,” the security woman is trying to be helpful now.
“He – won’t – drink – it,” I sob. “He – only – drinks – it – warm.”

I finally move past security, and a helpful woman behind me tells me I can get hot water at Starbucks and mix it with the bottled water to make it the right temperature. Now, here’s the problem—I cannot stop crying. I try. I tell myself it’s no big deal—look! Hot water! But it was too late. And it wasn’t really about the water.

So there I am, walking through the airport, crying my eyes out. Not quiet tears rolling down my cheeks, but sobs. And I have no time. I need to get to the gate. I am mortified, walking through this airport, but I also don’t really care. At this point, I’m just trying to survive until I get home. So I stop at Starbucks. (God bless that barista! I just held out my thermos, no words, and she filled it halfway and didn’t even look at me funny. I’m guessing I’m not the first empty-thermos Mom she’s met.) Then I stop to buy a sandwich for on the plane. I was starting to get it together at this point, until a nice gentleman insisted I go ahead of him in line. He had a little one at home, he said, and would hate to think of his wife waiting and waiting in line at the airport with the baby. And it was such a kind, human thing to do that I started crying again. The sandwich lady asked me what kind of cheese I wanted, and I just shook my head for no cheese because I couldn’t form words, but I really, really wanted cheese. Any kind of cheese. I felt like a complete idiot. Some people stared at me; others looked away, clearly embarrassed for me. I was embarrassed for myself and just praying I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew.

I finally got to the gate and called my husband, who felt terrible for me. (Since I was crying, and he knows I’m not a crier.) The conversation was brief, and my tears were at least the quiet kind. But you know what happened next? An older couple sitting near me looked over and immediately got down on the floor (where baby b. was sitting, happy to be free from his stroller) and asked if they could help me. The woman offered me a Kleenex, which I gladly accepted. She put her arm around me and asked me about the baby. And she didn’t stop there. She started telling me about her grandchildren and played peek-a-boo with baby b., to his great delight. She didn’t even ask why I was upset, she just stepped in and offered support. I cannot tell you how much that interaction meant to me.

I was alone in that airport, and felt like the world had caved in on top of me. Strangers reached out a hand, and I grabbed on. And getting on that miserable, delayed-at-the-gate-with-a-squirmy-baby-on-my-lap flight, I was grateful to not be alone.

How do you respond when someone near you gets really emotional? What if it’s a complete stranger? I’ll admit that I probably would have walked right on by myself that afternoon at the airport. Well, not now. But before? Absolutely.


Maria Dodson said...

You're making me cry right now! I'll admit I've been really emotional lately, as well. :) That's a wonderful story. Thank GOD for those sweet people. God really does use the airlines! I know that I, too, am the kind of person who usually waits to be asked before I make a move, but being in need (emotionally, socially, physically) helps you understand the opportunity to love a stranger! Thanks for sharing.

Ted Gossard said...

Llama Momma, Nice. Great to hear of the help you received. What a difficult time to have to go through. But I guess it just helps us to know better firsthand the hurting of others. Wow. I'm rather glad I don't have to frequent airports but I guess you learn to make do.

23 degrees said...

Thanks for the courage in sharing this event and giving this glimpse of what your heart is like. It takes some time to process all of the emotions that you were experiencing, and you reached your processing limit there at security and had to let go. Tears (and sobs) are good, healthy. What a time for a release though! (insert hug)

I wonder if the older couple (and the barista) that jumped in had a similar circumstance at one time that made them more aware of your situation, more sensitive to the Spirit's nudge to help? Nonetheless, they were a Godsend. He truly is Jehovah El Roi—the God who sees.

Anonymous said...

UGH!!! Ya' shoulda' got the cheese, REAL cheese! It would have made things SO much better!!

Anonymous said...

UGH!!! Ya' shoulda' got the cheese, REAL cheese! It would have made things SO much better!!

Craver Vii said...

I can barely imagine that smiley little guy disgruntled at the airport. No, wait. We had four kids of our own and had to deal with crying and poopy diapers. Oh, all those nasty, nasty things those kids did.

Oops, I dropped this.

Thank God for those kind people who minister in our time of need.

Llama Momma said...

Thanks for the support...and for not making fun of me. :-)

I grew up in a home where we weren't allowed to be upset or emotional, so I've had to learn this stuff. And, as 23 Degrees noticed, I reached my limit at an inopportune time and it all just kind of exploded. A good lesson to me...

May we all reach out to those around us when the opportunity arises.

And, ah, Craver. Thanks. I think. ;-)

Cheryl Lynn said...

hey llama momma,

thanks for doing what you do best, being honest. recently having gone through the whole miscarriage thing i realized that i preferred to be comforted by people who didn't act like they had it all together, but people who had been through something. interesting how that would seemingly "disqualify" us but god uses it to "qualify" us for ministry. how much more open are you to ministering opportunities because of the ministry of these tender hearted people towards you.

Jen said...

As a mom with an infant on formula right now, I just about burst out in tears when I read about that woman dumping out your thermos of warm water. I just felt myself holding Tally at that airport, looking at the woman, and wanting to say something, anything, but knowing I was completely helpless. I'm so sorry you had this experience. Thanks for relating about the older couple however. The few times I've done something radically kind to strangers, I'm always paralyzed beforehand that I'm going to be obtrusive or seen as a nutcase. I need to remember this story so I can follow the Spirit's lead in mercy and tenderness.

Llama Momma said...

Cheryl Lynn - thank you. And yes...somehow God uses the difficult moments of our lives to change us for the better, and make us more accessible to others.

Jen - I'm with you -- never wanting to intrude; thinking it's none of my business. And, yet, we represent Christ on this earth.

As Maria said in her first comment, being in need helps make us more aware of the needs of others. So, so true. More on that another day...

Ed G. said...

Llama Momma,

Dana just wants you to know how moved she was by your story. I was touched, too.

Ed G.

spaghettipie said...

Thanks for sharing - I laughed and cried (but I am a crier...) at the same time. I've been learning to follow the Spirit's prompting more, even when I feel embarrassed about what He wants me to do. I think it gets easier the more I do it though.

Llama Momma said...

Ed (Dana too...) - thank you.

SP - Wow. I made you laugh and cry all in the same post?? Cool. :-)