Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's a short flight.

This post was originally published here by Jessica Garlick Dyer, a graduate of A&M Consolidated High School in 2008. We post this with her permission. 

It was a cold, bitter day back in early March of 2013. My contacts had been in for way too long. My hair was up in a high tangled bun and we were still in our clothes from 24 hours before.

We'd been sleeping {more like waiting} in the Denver airport all night. At 6 a.m. on the dot I got in line at the customer service desk of United Airlines to attempt to get added onto the next flight home. Our flight the night before had been cancelled a few hours after our connection landed in Denver. It would be a miracle if we got seats on that flight, and it was a miracle that we were capable of functioning physically, emotionally, and mentally at that moment.

That day Travis had a midterm he needed to be back in time to take, and the fact that he hadn't been able to study all night in the below freezing airport didn't even phase us. All we were worried about was getting him in his classroom to take the test. Not to mention that the purpose of all the crazy back-to-back traveling across the country was for intense interviews for PhD programs. Our future was completely uncertain. And just 5 weeks earlier, I had given birth to our little girl, after being pregnant for just over 34 weeks. Travis held my hand while I endured labor, delivery, and then the worst drive of our lives---the one when we drove home from the hospital with an empty carseat installed behind us. And then for a couple weeks after that, Travis held my hand again as I felt the terrible pain---both the physical and emotional pain---that comes with tons of breast milk coming in, but not being able to let it out at all, but especially not having a little baby to feed the milk to.

Sitting in the airport that early morning I really wondered if life could get any worse. It just seemed like one thing after another. Not to mention the week before we ended up in the ER for Travis' leg and I could go on and on about little things that in the moment scared me out of my mind. Because after our traumatic experience with our baby girl, I then felt vulnerable. And to top it off, all I could think about was how in order to get a baby here to raise it would take at least 9 more months of agonizing fear, doubts, and worries {the list goes on and on}, where each day feels like a year, in order to bring a baby home with us. And then the realization came that it will always be hard for us to have a baby---pregnancy is now one of the greatest ways that our faith is tested from now on. And that is overwhelming at times.

This scripture from Isaiah has come to my mind often: “For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10). 

Yet, while the refiner’s fire is the path by which we must go to obtain joy, it is just that—a fire—hot, uncomfortable, and dangerous. We do, though, have the ability to come out refined from the experience---not damaged.

Thankfully the woman at the customer service desk was in a semi-good mood. We ended up getting on the plane. We lined up to board, trying not to fall asleep standing up.

And that’s when I saw an older couple with a teenage girl who had disabilities try to get tickets on the same flight, it appeared that they had slept in the airport that night too; my heart hurt for them. I said a silent prayer they would get on the flight.

Once on the plane, I noticed the couple and daughter got seats, just in the row across from us. Right as they sat down, the cycle began: crying, silence, questioning—repeat. This was the process that the tall teenage girl, with blonde hair and glasses, with some sort of mental handicap repeated to her father. She talked very loud and used childlike phrases. Some people stared and acted annoyed.

She was scared. She had no choice but to be on that plane to make the connection in Salt Lake to eventually get to her destination. When we first boarded, the plane was neat to her. She stared out the window watching the crew de-ice the plane. But then, as soon as the plane left the solid concrete ground for the air, she panicked.

She sat in the window seat and talked the entire flight, repeating over and over, practically yelling, “It’s a short flight, right dad?” She repeated this all the way from Denver, Colorado, to Salt Lake City, Utah. She stammered these words through tears and then the next second through confidence, then back through tears. Sometimes she would start to cry hysterically and then her dad would calm her down and she would go on to repeat all these emotions in the same cycle.

I sat in awe the whole flight---watching, listening. This girl's father, ever so patient and calm, reassured his daughter every few minutes by answering her question with, “yes, it’s a short flight,” over and over again. Though, there was no doubt in my mind that it had to be what felt like the longest flight ever to him. He let his wife sleep the whole flight, while he took care of his daughter, constantly calming and reassuring her. How tiring it must have been.

My mind was racing. This man and his wife are taking care of their daughter for what I assume would be 24/7 for the rest of her life. He never gets a break. But oh how patient he was. He was noticeably exhausted, yet he never once raised his voice, got upset, or ignored his daughter. I felt humbled and ashamed to have ever felt tired or sorry for myself, or having ever talked impatiently. This man was handling his own furnace of affliction in that moment so well, ultimately as Christ would have responded. 

I was reminded that morning what it must be like for our Heavenly Father to watch us panic in a time of trial, only to console us with perfect patience and compassion. And I was also reminded how everyone has trials as I watched in awe a father so patiently and lovingly be in control of a very stressful, trying situation. I watched him care for her realizing that he and his wife would have this responsibility for the entirety of their time on earth. How hard it must be. 

"It’s a short flight, right dad? Yes, it’s a short flight.” Over and over again, crying.

When I felt the plane skid on the runway in SLC I was relieved. Not for me, but for this girl and her dad. The flight was over. And then, as soon as we landed, in a voice I can still hear in my mind, the girl exclaimed to her dad with so much excitement: “It was a great flight! It was short flight, huh dad?”

And her father agreed, “yes, it was a great, short flight.”

I have a feeling that's how we'll all respond when our individual flights on this earth are over. It’s hard not to know what hard things are around the next turn. But this Travis and I do know, that because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, we are enabled to do what we need to do in this life to become more like Him. That knowledge brings power, no matter how smooth or bumpy our flight gets. 

And in the grand scheme of eternity, it really is just a great, short flight.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you Jessica for such a wonderful perspective on our short bumpy flights:) Life is full of bumps and we get scared and bruised and we, hopefully, through Christ's atonement grow stronger, which seems exactly what you have done!! You're awesome! Good luck with all your new adventures.

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  2. Thank you for sharing. I needed to hear this. I assume we all need to hear this..

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