Wednesday, the 30th day of November, in the year 2005, I boarded an aircraft headed back to Misawa, Japan.
Of course I was reluctant. I did not want to get on that plane, but I knew it was the only way back to Anton & our kids. I prayed while I sat in the waiting area. I also read a few passages. Then, the announcement to begin boarding boomed over the speaker. My stomach churned and I headed to the bathroom. When I was done, most of the passengers had disappeared onto the airplane so I fell in line with the remaining passengers. A man had still been seated on the floor so I asked him if he liked waiting till the last minute like I did to avoid being on the aircraft any longer than needed. He replied that he didn’t have a seat because of his stand-by status. Y’all know I wanted to offer that man my seat right! :)
In the cabin, my carry-on nestled into the overhead compartment while my Bible and journal made its home in the seat with me. Again, my stomach churned, so I sprinted to the bathroom. At my return, it seemed as if all were waiting on me to get back into my seat because as soon as I sat down, a flight attendant came to visually check my seatbelt as the Captain prompted the securing of the cabin. I tightened my seatbelt but decided that I was not satisfied with its guarantee so I tightened it some more. Still not satisfied, I conducted a simulated forward thrust and made the mandated decision to try tightening it a little more. “Okay, calm down. Pray. You’re alright. It’s okay, see yourself already on the ground in Misawa!” My self-pep-talk did not work.
The aircraft crept towards the taxiway; my knee started twitching.
The aircraft picked up a little speed; my other knee joined in.
The aircraft bounced down the taxiway; my hands clenched my thighs.
The aircraft turned slightly and came to a stop; my lungs forced air through my mouth.
The Captain announced that he was waiting for clearance to takeoff; my head fell back.
I – CAN’T – BREATHE!
To the man in the aisle next to me I said, “Can I sit there please?” Obviously taken aback, he mentioned something about needing the extra legroom but if I really needed to I could. I tore the seatbelt away from my lap, sat next to him and buckled myself all in one immediate move! Through heavy breathing I thanked and reassured him that I would leave him to himself after takeoff. He asked if I were afraid of flying. Frantically, I nodded my head. He told me that he had been a pilot in the Navy at one time and that I had nothing to worry about. The most critical part was taking off and landing. After that, it’s all good. “Cleared for takeoff,” says the Captain and instantaneously the plane began to propel forward. As its speed increased, so did my breathing. Noticing this, my new “Airplane Babysitter-Buddy” started a conversation with me. I have no inkling what he said but I do know that I gave him empty feedback by aimlessly nodding and repeating, “Uh-huh. Okay!”
Keeping myself from giving in to the impulse of screaming, “I CAN’T DO THIS! LET ME OFF PLEASE!” while pulling at my hair proved to be awfully hard. But I did it!
That indicated the okay to move about the cabin. My “buddy” excused himself to use the restroom and I did the same, (yes, my stomach still caused trouble!). As we were waiting in line, he started another conversation with me to which I actually consciously participated in. Of course he returned to his seat long before me but when I got there, kindly, he ignored his need for the legroom and offered for me to remain seated with him. I declined, (but didn’t really want to), telling him that I had to try doing this alone. “If you change your mind, it’s okay with me,” he said and commenced to read a book. I decided to write:
“I’m on the plane. I’ve already failed, Lord please forgive me & do not give up on me. Thank You for being patient w/me. I prayed & said I am reliant on You, (God), I don’t need anyone else, God is in control. And what do I go & do, ask the man beside me if I could sit w/him! I am so totally stupid. I need to stop being so double-minded, Lord please don’t give up on me, I’ll get it. I’m gonna keep praying. I was just in the bathroom & realized how small it is & wondered, how does Anton use these bathrooms, he must be really uncomfortable. Poor thing. Plane is doing weird things, help me Father, calm me please. You are in control, not me. I trust in You. Give me peace, I feel like I want to panic, help me Father. Calm me please. Everything is okay, God is the Pilot. He is holding this plane in His hand. He is going to have all flights & busses arrive at each destination safely.”
I fell asleep. When I woke up, I resumed writing:
“I slept, Can you believe it? God is so good. He gave me rest just as I asked! Thank You Father! The man I sat beside is a Christian, he is on a remote in Diego Garcia & his family is in Virginia Beach. His two children go to a Christian private school & his wife stays @ home & she loves it. I plan to buy some of that bread that “Sharon” got on our way to Narita. I’m not going to eat it until I arrive in Misawa. I saved my pretzels for my babygirl. I should have taken a toy out of the bag for her, but I think the snack will do. I am ready to see my family, I’ve missed them.”
The Captain informed his passengers that we would begin our initial descent into Narita Airport. I prepared myself, mentally. My friend asked if I wanted to “come over” for landing. I did not hesitate! I had to go through Customs and start towards the bus terminal to purchase a ticket for the next bus ride to Haneda Airport.
On the next flight:
“I’m on the second flight, I’m okay, I’m in God’s hands. The plane was just a bit shaky & I felt the anxiety come over me & I had to say calm down, you’re okay. The flight should be only forty more minutes. I can do this, we’re already in the air, I’m okay. I’m about to see my family, oh how exciting. Calm down Larie, you are fine, God got you girl. Chill out. I’m okay. My God delivers, He is calming me & giving me peace like I asked for. I hope Anton is sexy for me. I asked him not to wear his uniform. Oh wow, we are going to ‘know’ each other tonight! My incision has been bothering me today.”
The plane landed. At the baggage claim, I turned around to the smiling faces of Anton, our daughter and my mommy. Our son had been left in his car seat so I couldn’t see him from where I stood. However, when I walked up to him, he looked at me a little funny and parted his lips just enough for me to see that he’d grown two more teeth while I had been away! "First-born" could only stare at me, which she continued to do the entire ride home! Once we got into the house and I started giving out gifts, she came around. My son surprised me by crawling my way. It was the first time I’d seen him crawl!
Thank you for reading, commenting, praying and desiring to learn more about my journey to maturation. After tomorrow's book review, I'll be on vacation for the next week. However, when I return the week after that, it'll be time for the second series of "When a Girl Prays for Patience: An Epoch of Depression."
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 NIV