We were excited to be going to Seattle to visit our family who lives out there. Suitcases were packed--the best I had ever organized myself for a trip. Not too much and not too little. My husband tossed them in the trunk, and I drove us to the airport (he has had to temporarily give up driving due to a fainting episode).
We parked the car in an airport lot and took a shuttle to the airport departure area. We used the luggage kiosk and printed off our luggage tags. For some reason, I began to feel a bit of anxiety. Not strong and not attached to anything in particular.
Making our way to the A18 gate, we found a seat and began to wait for boarding. We were quite early and had time to get water and coffee. I made my way up to the help desk and asked politely if there were any seats left in Comfort+. Since I had used miles to purchase tickets, I thought it might be nice to have more room.
“Are you kidding me? We have seven people ahead of you asking for seat changes, and we are overbooked.”
“Just thought I’d ask.” I went back to my seat and resumed drinking my peppermint mocha. I was still feeling a bit unsettled.
Several minutes later, my husband got a call from his primary care physician’s office. He had to leave the area because two little rascals were making too much noise behind us, even after I put my finger to my lips. He returned in five minutes.
“What did they say?” I asked.
“The PA said my MRI showed two subdural hematomas, one on each side of my brain.”
“That doesn’t sound good…” We began using Google to get more information, and then we found out the sad truth: Flying is not recommended for those with this condition. He had had a fall a month earlier that required hospitalization and a truckload of tests, including putting in a stent that should have been put in during his open heart surgery last year. They were still not certain what caused his fainting, but he did hit the back of his head when he fell and bled quite a bit.
“I’m going to call the Dr. back.”
He returned to his seat a few minutes later. “They’re going to have the doctor call me back within 30 minutes.” Our plane was to begin boarding in that time frame.
She called and tried to encourage us. She said that the hematomas were not that large, maybe ½ inch each, and stated that this shouldn’t pose a problem. I was not convinced and then attached this medical fact to the anxiety I had been feeling. The change in cabin pressure could be a problem, especially since my husband was already vulnerable, having to be on a blood thinner after his stent was placed.
“What should we do?” he voiced.
“Well, if I were the one having the problem, what would YOU do?”
"I wouldn't let you board." He dropped his chin to his chest and gave a long sigh.
That settled it. I went back up to the counter, waited in line and told the woman who had helped us earlier that we needed to cancel our flights (and told her why). She was very understanding and took care of the cancellation.
“What about the luggage?” my husband asked. Oh, dear, I hadn’t thought of that. I cut the line and my swift movement initiated one woman coming up to me and saying, "I was in line before you." I told her that I had already been in line and needed to complete a conversation. I apologized to her and moved on to ask the woman behind the desk what we could do at this late hour, knowing that time was slipping by, and our bags might already be on the plane.
“I’ll put in an email directly to the luggage carriers to try to pull your suitcases from the cart.” She then instructed us to get down to baggage claim and speak with a representative in the office in that area.
We headed down, found the office and got in line (again). When we got to the front of the line, we shared with the woman behind the counter what was happening. She checked our account and found that only one bag had been flagged. She then entered the second bag into the computer and made a phone call to the men waiting to load the luggage on to the plane.There were three full and overflowing carts.
We sat in the luggage claim area, as I said a silent prayer. “Lord, please let us get our luggage back.” It wasn’t too long after I said that prayer that a few suitcases came off the belt. One of them was mine, but my husband’s suitcase was nowhere to be found.
Back to the counter once again…the woman who had helped us check on the second bag came out to the carousel to talk with both of us and told us that she thought it had been pulled. Minutes later, his bag appeared. I was so elated that I quickly moved over to our helpful baggage rep and gave her a solid Christmas hug.
Then we had to make the dreaded phone call. Our son was expecting us in Seattle and really needed support, especially now, as he had had several tough experiences during the year. When I shared that we were unable to come, he was very disappointed and hung up rather quickly. I surmised that he was in tears because he really expected us.
As we worked through the unraveling of the vacation, we saw God’s hand at work in so many ways and felt incredibly grateful that we hadn’t gotten on that plane. Thirty minutes. God’s timing, once again!
We are reminded once again that God will intersect our world and our space when he deems it necessary. I know that this is small compared to so much heartache across the world this Christmas season. Yet, I still feel thankful that the God who came in human form understands our frailty and our needs. I may never know what could have happened if we had boarded that plane. Maybe nothing unusual, but even so, God took care of the details and timing and placed his blessing upon us. We just needed to surrender and cooperate even while feeling intensely disappointed.
I’m certain that many of you have experienced similar nudgings, have changed plans and have had disappointments. I cling to the verse in Romans that states: “All things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose(s).” (slight change in translation). We are forever called to let go and surrender to God’s purposes. We may never fully know why this happened, but we can trust God that it was necessary for his purposes to be obtained.