Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Flying Back to New York

I keep a gratitude journal. Each night before turning off the light on my side of the bed, I write down 5 things for which I'm grateful.  Since reading this idea in Sarah Ban Breathnach's book, Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort and Joy about 10 years ago, I've filled journal after journal with the good in my life.  It's a healthy habit which helps keep me focused on the positive, but lately I've wondered if I truly appreciate what I'm listing. When I write, "All our children, their spouses, and grandchildren are healthy and safe," I feel that I should throw a party, jump up and down, open the windows and shout it to the neighbors.  Instead I enter the words, close the journal, and go to sleep.

I needed Gratitude to grab me, shake me, and shout, "Don't you realize how amazing this is?"

She complied on January 1st, onboard American Airlines flight 350 from Chicago O'Hare to LaGuardia, although not in any way I had in mind.

All was going smoothly - connecting flight from Little Rock was on time, flight to NYC was on time, weather was fine.  We took off; I closed my eyes.  Then, about 15 seconds later, loud pops exploded from the right side of the plane.  Bumps, like turbulence, but heavier, jolted us.  I grabbed a fistful of Drew's khaki pants in my left hand, and said in a deceptively calm voice, "This can't be good."  He was quiet, listening. .  for the sound of an engine.  "I hear the left one," he said.  More bumps.

For five minutes, we sat. No word from the pilot.  The plane seemed to glide in slow motion.  I noticed a white mist, a cloud? smoke? passing by my window.  "Why aren't we turning around?" "Is one engine enough to fly, to get us down?" With each question, my grasp on Drew's pants grew tighter, my mind raced with imagined endings.  And yet, the reality of a crash was impossible to entertain.  We had family to love, friends to spend time with, sunrises to savor.

We waited.  The other passengers waited, all quiet, as if sustained concentration could guide the plane to safely.

"Ladies and gentlemen.  The compressor on the right engine blew.  Everything is under control. We will be landing in 5 minutes.  Flight attendants prepare the cabin for landing."

Not until the wheels touched down, did I release my hold on Drew's forever wrinkled pants.  The revolving lights of ambulances, firetrucks and other emergency vehicles flooded my window, a precaution, thankfully unneeded.

I shouldered my bag and noticed that my whole body was shaking.
"Yes, I do realize how amazing this is!" I thought, "as is every thankful word on the pages of my journal."
But that night, I got out my most colorful markers and threw a party on the page headed, January 1, 2012.







  1. Wrinkled khaki pants are good!

  2. Wrinkled khaki pants are good!

  3. Yes! I'm glad that they and YOU were there to hold onto!

  4. I was holding my breath as I read this. So grateful that everything was fine--and that you were there together.

    I was thinking about you tonight as I put to bed my most-grateful-for and tucked her little mouse in. That little mouse, still named Mouse, is quite a bit thinner than she used to be. I think it's all the tricks she does, flipping and spinning and dancing across the covers before sleep claims her bedfellow. She is well-loved and on her way to following The Velveteen Rabbit to becoming Real.

    So, this very minute, having read about your too exciting flight, I am grateful for the good friends who gave us Mouse and that they are safely home in NYC.

  5. How scary! Glad both of you were together and that you didn't have super long fingernails Twylla or Drew might have had an injury beyond wrinkled pants. Glad you made it back safely.

  6. Twylla , I love this entry . . . The ability to take a very scary
    experience and create a sweet , heartwarming story is certainly proof the journal does it's job . . .


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