I left the myeloma conference in the Twin Cities early today to catch my flight to Tampa. As usual, my flight was not non-stop. I am in the Charlotte, North Carolina airport and I don’t have much time. But I wanted to share an exchange I had with a fellow passenger tonight. I sat next to a charming, middle aged woman from New Orleans named Barbara. While she enjoyed a glass of wine, we shared each other’s stories as is often the case during late-night evening flights, when it is so hard to write. Born in Germany, Barbara grew up in Charleston, later moving to the island of St Thomas. She now lives in New Orleans and is busy restoring a small, eight room hotel just outside the French Quarter. Barbara was/is not comfortable talking about death and cancer. (I must be fun to fly with – a real barrel of laughs!) But as I reassured her I was going to be OK, the conversation took-off. While she excused herself to go to the rest room I noticed an incredible sunset out the plane’s right side. I sat fixated by the deep red and gold colors that were mixed-in with the clouds. I paused to share the experience with some of the other passengers. All were reading, or listening to music. They were indifferent to the almost indescribable beauty, just outside their windows. Cancer has opened my eyes to priceless experiences like these. Their loss, I guess!
After the plane landed and the other passengers began to disembark, Barbara and I exchanged good-by’s. I told her to keep having fun and travel safely. She surprised me by saying “Keep breathing!” Short, simple, real. Sunsets and new, unexpected friends. My back hurts, my bones ache and I’m tired. Isn’t it great to be alive! Thanks for indulging me these personal reflections. I will write more about my conference experiences tomorrow. I have so much to share!
But for now, my flight is boarding. Feel good, keep smiling and breathing! Pat