Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A news story burrowed into my brain this morning. Authorities identified the remains of a woman who disappeared seven years ago. She wandered away during a layover at the Dallas airport and was never seen alive again. Not by anyone who knew her, anyway. It must have been terrible for her husband and daughter, for her family and friends. They have my sincere sympathies.

You know who else has my sympathy? The porter. He's assigned to take two elderly people from a plane to a gate, the same kind of thing he does many times a day. This time he takes the wheelchair-bound husband to the restroom and asks the wife to wait for them at the gate. It is a critical decision. Life will forever be divided into before and after he said, "Please wait right here." The before was whatever it was, but the after is filled with police and reporters and attorneys and death. And questions. Oh, the questions that man must have been asked in these seven years. Best not to consider the ones he's probably asked himself.

We all make a thousand choices every day. Squeak through that yellow light? One more before you go? Call mom tomorrow? We're tired and we're stressed and we rely on a razor-thin margin of safety that doesn't exist. If you've taken elderly people to gates without incident for six months or six years or six decades, how can you know that this time the person you ask to wait will wander off, lost in the fog of Alzheimer's, and meet death beside a muddy lake?

Every moment could be the last one before an after we can't imagine. We can't carry that awareness constantly—the weight of if would crush us. So we muddle on toward God-only-knows-what. We choose. We decide. We turn left or right or stay where we are. We say, "Wait right here," or we call for help. Then we deal with the consequences. There is no other way.

5 comments:

Go Mama said...

I like to think we all came in here with a divine plan, each of us agreeing to the human roles we chose...for drama, for humor, for experience, for love.

Then, we forget why we came here and forever torment ourselves and second-guess. That too is drama, humor, experience, love.

Still, we are all connected, we all play our parts, we are all love. Always.

Love.

Doubting Thomas said...

If this porter had good intent when he took the elderly gentleman to the restroom, I'd hope that he does not berate himself for this outcome. Nor would I want the husband to blame the fact of his handicap for his wife going missing.

Unless we're blessed with omniscience, the only thing we're really responsible for is our intent. Everything else belongs to God or fate.

I'm not really all that discouraged by the fact that bad things often happen despite our good intentions....

...what does depress me beyond measure is to know that there are people who would bludgeon an aging woman with alzheimer's disease to death in an empty field near an airport.

That fact is enough to make me want to believe in hell.

luckyzmom said...

I have thought that there are lessons to be learned in even tragic events, but this has me baffled.

Michelle O'Neil said...

...and we all go the same place in the end.

kario said...

Wow.