I’m not the overly emotional type. Yet a few weeks ago I found myself waiting with the masses to board a plane in a crowded, major airport. As folks rearranged items in their carry-ons, made last minute phone calls, and appeared with typical glazed-eyes after a long, hot, and muggy Midwest day… a scene capture my attention.
A young boy about ten stood in the pre-boarding area with who appeared to be his mother – or at the least, someone who loved him dearly. The affection and emotion was mutual. He buried his face in her neck – the woman’s tears spilled over as she held and soothed him.
With her hands on his tear-stained cheeks, she pulled his blond head away from her and looked in his face with sympathetic eyes and spoke soft words. He shook his head back and forth – the tears pouring freely. I couldn’t hear their exchange, but reading his lips saying, “I don’t wanna go” was exceptionally clear.
I’m not the crying type … but tears welled up in my eyes. Just imagining the pain of sending your child away against his will, as he cries and clings to you stirred my emotions.
I looked down to gather my things, looked up, and the boy had disappeared down the jetway. The woman stood trying to hold it together and then made her way toward where I stood. She paused, with anguish on her face as her eyes swept the gate attendant area for one more glimpse of the boy.
Without thinking – compassion moved me a few physical steps toward her. I’m not even sure if I said anything, but I extended a hand toward her. With quick recognition of a caring, human soul, she embraced me and wept.
“What’s his name?” I asked as I now held this stranger in my embrace, comforting her during her time of emotional pain.
“Lance,” she said through sobs. “He’s 10, hasn’t seen his dad since Christmas and the courts don’t care what we feel. I’m his mom; but he’s got to go.” And then she cried a bit more.
Who knows what all of the other passengers thought – or if they even witnessed this exchange as anything out of the ordinary. “Can I pray for him right now?” I asked.
“Oh yes, please do.” And there together as we hugged, our hearts joined in prayer for God’s peace to embrace Lance on a flight he didn’t really want to make. My voiced prayer asked God to comfort him, and to help him know y God and his mother both love him.
“And Lord, please comfort this dear mother right now. Amen.” She thanked me. And in a sea of people I’ll probably never see again, including this dear woman, we parted ways. She was headed back home to a quiet house. I was headed on to the plane to deliver a message to a weeping blond boy seated in the front of the plane.
“Hey Lance. … Lance…” He wiped the tears from his eyes as his head turned from the window, past the people in his row, to the aisle where I moved down. “Hey Buddy, your mom (And I used her name so he wouldn’t think I was some weirdo) wanted me to tell you she’s out there praying for you.” I smiled at him – and I’d like to think I saw a sense of peace or relief wash over him just a skosh.
Airport scenes of parents and children separating under situations like this happen every day. Maybe there are more of them now with summer underway.
No judgment here. While I am filled w/ gratitude that our 2 kids have never had to know the anguish that Lance does, family relational pain is real and can be tortuous to those involved.
So I wonder, “How can I help a hurting kid or parent today? What will this look like?”
Who will come across your path in the next 48 hours who could use a bit of compassion and care? And more importantly, how will you reach out?
By Dr. Heidi Scott – Consultant, Speaker & Coach developing people, teams, and organizations