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Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Why I Do Not Fear Flying... Anymore

 Crop Circle Mandalas from the Air, Heading to Denver

I used to spend a great deal of time in hospitals.
My daughter is asthmatic and we often booked the medical centers for our vacations: Spring in the pediatric asthma ward and Autumn in the ICU.

I would haunt the corridors when she slept, visit brilliantly lit lounges, check out the amenities on each floor, and sleep in chairs, waiting for good breathing, good pressure, good pulse.
I prayed a lot. I remember being in the ICU and going over St. Valentine’s Day cards for her classmates in 4th grade. She was allergic to animals and we often spent our holidays alone with just the three of us. The rest of the family had pets.
It was easy to get around hospitals. I think they gave you some slack if you have the haggard look of the parents of a sick kid.

I think the first hospital visit occurred when she was four. I remember a room full of what I think they called croup tents. She was so small and pathetic. She was playing with some Disney figures. When the nurses came in to draw blood – which hurt more – she asked whether they wished to play with Donald Duck, offering to share her toys with the nurses as they prepared to stick her and make her cry even more.
There were special toys we would take with us. Those toys grew old in the hospital. I was away one weekend and my wife had to take her to the hospital alone. While they waited, one of the other people in the waiting room urinated into a wastebasket.

One year when she was at college, everything fell apart. She survived and we made plans to go the National Jewish Center in Denver, Colorado, which was considered the best respiratory center in the country.
That year Chanukah ended just before Christmas.
We were scheduled to go in December, returning on Christmas Eve.

Before we left, we set up our Christmas tree and decorations. Then we left in the dark of a cold December morning. Our black luggage we tugged after us, our thoughts on the here and now and upon eternity.
The airplane was de-iced. To me it seemed as if we were being mummified within a cocoon of sickly gel.

I had never liked flying; in fact, I was frightened being in airplanes, but I felt no fear now, for I would rather have the plane crash and die as a family.

I felt calm, then.

When we had arrived, we found Denver was like nowhere we’d ever been.
I think St. Peter considers that being from Denver will waive any other requirements for entering heaven. People would actually smile at you and say "Good morning!" in a cheery manner, not just a mumbled perfunctory grumble, like we were used to in South Eastern Michigan.
(I lived most of my life in South Eastern Michigan, and there are many great individuals, but as a large group or society, the place is a definite Twilight Zone downer.... do not complain to me, for I'm not going to apologize.)

When we arrived, the hospital was decorated for Chanukah. When we left, it had been readied for Christmas.

In between, we traveled in the Rockies.
Returning from the mountains, Denver is spread out like a holy city of the plain, its lights gleaming like a permanent celebration, a city where Lot would have no trouble finding men of goodwill, and where his wife would not need to get into any arguments about salt.

We got home in the dark. It was Christmas Eve. We would be alone for Christmas. Too many pets in the family. We turned on the Christmas tree lights and three people never felt so happy and sad. We held each other closely, between the hands of God.


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