Have you ever had one of those days? I mean, one of those days. Heck, it might not be a full-fledged day at all. It might just be a moment. A snapshot. A small little bit of time where everything feels heavy. And then you move forward and get past it and everything feels normal again. But that weight doesn't go unnoticed and it doesn't get lost. It stays with us, probably because the fact that they existed make all of the other days taste just a little bit sweeter.
Please be nodding your head right now so I don't feel crazy. Thanks.
My work had me on the road this year, a lot. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do and I love the chance to travel and I love the impact that I really do make. I love my team and I love the organization I work for. But this year, I was on the road a lot.
I was in a lot of hotel rooms and on a lot of airplanes and in a lot of Ubers and Lyfts and I ate alone in a lot of restaurants and was thankful for Facetime a lot, too. Because Facetime, friends, is how those of us who travel for work stay in touch with our families and blow nighttime kisses to our little ones and stay connected (and to help us be visually aware that the house hasn't caught fire in our absence).
And this means that I was tired, a lot. Often times, I will take the earliest flight out so I'm not having to leave the day before, and I take the latest flight home, sneaking in so I'm at the table for breakfast. You guys, tired. Really, really tired. Because when I am home, I feel the need to cram all I can into those days. Family dinners, birthdays, adventures, snuggles. All of it. So, tired at work and tired at home and I finally had my moment where it caught up with me.
I broke down.
I had just boarded an airplane in Dallas. I was coming from somewhere and headed somewhere else. I hadn't had a chance to use said Facetime in a few days, because of the level of busy and time differences and all of those other excuses we give ourselves. I was boarding the plane, and my phone rang. It was home. And the connection failed. And then it failed again. And I wanted it to connect so badly, that my eyes welled up with tears and I tried calling back. My hands were shaking. My breath heavy as I kept hitting the little camera button on my iPhone. Over and over again.
I took my window seat in row 6, feet up against those in first class. My phone rang again. This time it worked. It was hubs and daughter and they were laughing and rolling around on the floor of her bedroom. She was telling me stories of the day before and their adventures and the air was sprinkled with I love you mamas and a few I get to see you soon mamas and quickly I found my voice cracking and the need to hang up the phone overcame me.
I texted Joey, "Sorry, I can't right now."
The weight, you guys. I meant those two words. I really felt, I believed, that I couldn't. I couldn't be on another airplane and I couldn't stand one more night away and I couldn't miss another dinner and I couldn't look into her sweet and beautiful eyes via that stupid Facetime app one more time. I. Just. Couldn't.
The tears were falling at this point and I was in full-fledged ugly but secret cry mode. I will admit that I was wiping my nose on my sweatshirt sleeve, equally embarrassed and disgusted in myself. Row six. Just behind first class. Two men sat to my left. One offered to stow my bag. One asked me if I had kids at home.
For the reader - if you see a woman on an airplane and she's just hung up the phone and she's crying, DO NOT ask her if she has a family. I have it on good authority that this will encourage the tears to fall harder and faster.
A little while passed. The first man looked at me, straight in the eyes with the warmest smile I'd think I'd ever seen. He said to me, "I don't know what it is. But it's life."
Thank you, stranger. For the reassurance that we all have these kinds of moments. Whatever our jobs are or if we have the job of raising our kiddos full time - everyone has those days, those moments and those little bits of time where everything feels so heavy. And he was so right, it's life.
I later learned that this stranger was also a pilot traveling home to his family. During the in-flight service, the flight attendant handed me two mini bottles of Titos with my orange juice, and sweetly and quietly said: "Honey, it's on us."
I arrived home a couple days later, and that weight was gone, but not forgotten. I was welcomed by bear hugs and I brought gifts so that probably helped. We had so much to talk about and the lump in my throat came back a little. I want to live in these kinds of moments forever. With my people. On the couch. Snuggled up, my soul thick with love.
There's always going to be something. Something that challenges us, something that demands our attention in a new or different way. Something that takes us away from home longer than we want or something that forces us to act differently than we may have wanted. There's always something. And I guess that's the lesson - take that something and find a way to make that push you forward. Propel you. The hard times can be the good times. In fact, when you look back, its what we learn in the hard times that make us better in the good.
Cheers, friends. It's life.