Sometimes there just is no way to explain how and why events happen.
Abby and I were enjoying a wonderful, leisurely drive through the country side. The sun was shining and enormous fluffy white clouds floated easily across the impressive blue sky. We had our favorite tunes on the radio and marveled at the lush green meadows. The fat lazy cows munching on the new growth beneath their heavy feet created a sumptuous countryside scene that might have been painted by any one of the great American painters. “God was surely in His heaven and all was right with the world.”
And then all of a sudden, without any warning whatsoever, it happened.
I was locked in place. I looked to my left and right and tried to twist around to look behind me but I was bolted securely in place. I’m tried hard to stay calm and concentrate on what was happening around me but just couldn’t figure it out. Men, women and little kids are working their way down the long narrow aisle separating rows of seats. They are dragging packages and small suitcases behind them. The line stops moving forward every few minute as someone reaches up and hoists a package up to one of overhead cubicles.
I tried to focus on what was going on and suddenly realized I was sitting on a plane, strapped into my seat with a seat belt. But what the hell am I doing here? Where am I going? I would never take a trip without Abby. And where is she? Has she gone ahead of me or is she still coming? I am very confused and frightened, feeling abandoned and alone. Why am I sitting solo on an airplane? How did I get here? Where am I going? Why can’t I remember? Am I crazy? Where is Abby? She always travels with me. Where has she gone?
Where is that lovely lady who brought me here? Why didn’t Abby bring me? Why is that strange lady sitting next to me in Abby’ seat. Why am I strapped in like a prisoner? I have to get out of here. I begin to wrestle with the straps holding me down. I’m locked in tight with a dog-like harness holding me down. I can’t release the belt and was just about to cry out for help when I heard an enormous roar. The plane lurched forward and shook with such violence that it threw my whole body back against the seat.
I continued to struggle with the damn straps holding me down. Holy God … what is that roaring noise? And why are we moving so fast? We’re going much too fast. My heart was thumping rapidly and I began to really panic. I struggled to get up but the straps had me locked in place. Someone, help me please, I shouted.
The lady sitting in Abby’s seat reached over and placed her hand over mine. “Shh, shh, shh, … “it’s okay,” she said patting my hand as she gently placed her hand over mine. “It’s the plane taking off. We’re going to be just fine. Try and relax and we’ll be safely in the air in just a few minutes.” She stroked my hand and arm and smiled at me as she whispered comforting words. I was happy to have her next to me. I looked into her wide trusting blue eyes and while I had no idea who she was, her presence calmed me.
She was very pretty, with shocking white hair that framed her kind, wrinkled face. She had a sweet smell of lilacs about her that reminded me vaguely of someone I knew a long time ago. Her piercing blue eyes held such deep sadness that it unnerved me a bit and it was difficult to hold her gaze. She continued to caress my hand and I could feel my anxiety slowly drifting away . I put my head back against the headrest as the plane slowly climbed safely in the air. I drew a deep grateful breath and fell into a welcomed sleep.
I awakened to the Captain’s strong voice telling us we were fifteen minutes from our destination, Denver, Colorado. He told us the temperature on the ground was a mellow 70 degrees and it was a beautiful day. He thanked us for flying Delta and wished us a trip. I opened my eyes and stretched my cramped arms and legs. Abby turned tentatively to me and said, “Hello there … how are you feeling?” “Just fine,” I answered. “It was a very smooth flight, wasn’t it?”
She nodded her head and asked me if I remembered feeling confused before we took off. I replied, “Of course not. … why do you ask.?” She smiled quietly and gently reminded me that sometimes Alzheimer’s plays funny tricks on my mind.
She took my hand and said “Okay, love, let’s go home.”