The 15 minutes that totally changed my life…


The turning point in my life presented itself in 2000  on an airplane.

I was working for an airline as the ramp/operations supervisor. One of my many duties was to help special assist people off the plane.

Special assists are people who are unable to walk, elderly, injured, and so forth. My life was about to change, and I had no idea.

The captain had called ahead telling us that we would need an aisle chair (basically a wheel chair that straps you in that can fit down the aisle of a plane), a wheel chair and an electric cart (what you see the airport skycaps driving).

The flight was inbound from Houston, TX. I was in the Jet-Bridge with the aisle chair as the plane rolled into the gate.

After knocking on the door, the flight attendants greeted me with a smile and the passengers de-planed. The only people left on the plane were my “special assist” and her family. As I walked toward seats in the middle of the Boeing 737, I saw two women standing. One of them was holding an I.V. bag and a young girl sitting down.

I walked up and said, “Well, hello there… how was your flight?” I looked down at the young girl. She looked weak and tired, but had a smile for me that I will never forget.

I shook the young girls hand, told her my name, and she replied, “Hi, I’m Jessica. Nice to meet you, Kevin. Are you going to help me?”

“Of course, I’m superman!” I told her while laughing.

The two other women were her mom and aunt. Her aunt had told me that Jessica was 16 and born paralyzed from the chest down and that she would need to be lifted out of her seat. Her mom then told me that they had been in Houston for Jessica’s cancer treatment. My heart just fell. How could this beautiful young girl be born paralyzed and then have cancer? I was only 28 years old at the time and had never felt my heart being pulled this way before. I started to prepare the isle chair so I could lift her out of the seat and off the plane. Something told me I needed to do more for her…a personal touch.

Instead I picked her up out of her seat and told her that I would carry her out. She put her arms around my neck as I raised her high over the seats of the plane, walked toward the exit. I felt tears falling down my face, just as I do now writing this story.

To this day, I remember the smell of her hair as I carried her down the aisle to to the gate.

The gate agent had already opened the door and as I carried Jessica through the doorway, all the voices of the passengers waiting to get on the plane went silent.

I carried her over to the waiting skycap. I put Jessica down into a seat. “Thank you” she whispered in my ear. I gave her a kiss on the cheek and said “You are so welcome sweetheart”. Her mom gave me a kiss on my cheek and told me how Jessica was very embarrassed to be put onto an isle chair. I looked at her mom right into her eyes and she could feel my pain for her daughter. She grabbed my hand firmly and said “Thank you Kevin… you made our day!” I gave Jessica one last hug before the skycap drove off.

I went back through the gate, closed the door behind me. I fell to my knees and cried. I never in my life had felt some ones “energy” like that.

One of the flight attendants saw me walking toward the plane, gave me hug and said, “You probably made their day”. I replied, “That’s what her mom just told me”.

Eight months had gone by and life went on as normal. I got a card in the mail at work one day from Jessica’s mom. She said some very nice things about how Jessica never forgot me and had hoped I would be there to help her on the next flight. But as I kept reading the card I found out, that day would never happen.

Jessica had died 5 weeks after I had helped off the plane. My heart just stopped. I walked off to be alone….. , and once again I cried. Her mom had mentioned the impact I had on Jessica. If they only knew the impact she had on me in just the short 15 minutes I spent helping her that day.

So when people ask, “Why do bad things have to happen to good people,” All I can say, is because Jessica’s passing, it changed everything for me.

To help another person, and to create change……. That is what I call LIVING!

I now hold her memory in my heart everyday and thanking God for opening my eyes to what life is meant to be like.

“You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway”

-Mother Teresa

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About Kevin Talley Photography

Louisville Based Photographer. Published in Oxygen Magazine, Women's Health Magazine Former Model with Elite and Wilhelmina in Miami and NEXT & Ford in Los Angeles.

Posted on April 23, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. I’ve nothing but “Tears”, and God give good health to all in the world.

  2. Andrew Shevtsov

    Beautiful, simply beautiful. Made me cry and I thought of a hymn:

    He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
    He sendeth more strength when the labors increase,
    To added affliction He addeth His mercy,
    To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

    His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
    His power no boundary known unto men,
    For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
    He giveth and giveth and giveth again.

    When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
    When our strength has failed ere the day is half-done,
    When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
    Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

    Thank you for sharing that amazing story.

  3. What a beautiful thing you did for Jessica and her family and ultimately for yourself. Thank you for sharing it! I felt your words. I felt your compassion. And yes, I felt the change it has made in your life. The title is so appropriate. Sometimes, 15 minutes is all it takes to change our life.
    Best wishes…as you go forth changing lives.

  4. I am so grateful that you took the time to write this. Thank you.

  5. Beautiful testimony. A wonderful of example of angels in our midst! Thank you for sharing. Many Blessings, Dwan

  6. Thank you for sharing. It makes one put things in prespective.

  7. Scott Anderson

    Thank you for sharing such a profound and deeply interpersonal story. So touching. That was a wonderful thing you did. Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us.

  8. Melayna Tinsley

    How many times do we go about our lives oblivious to the small kindnesses that we could perform that could change someone’s day? Those who look whole and hearty but have broken spirits or lack of self worth? I try never to underestimate a kind word, act or smile and it’s possible impact on someone else. I have been there myself when one person’s kindness made all the difference and I doubt they ever knew it. We have the capacity to impact others either negatively or positively every day in multiple ways. We just have to remember we have that power and employ it, because is enriches or damages us as much as the other person.

    • You are ABSOLUTELY spot on with your comment! One NEVER knows what another is going through. I try to give grace when people accidently do the stuff others rage about (like block intersections or pull out in front then go slow), give encouraement to strangers (standing in line @ grocery, there is certainly something nice you can say to a person near you…oh, that color looks nice on you)…and give smiles and a good attitude to others…even I’m “not in the mood”..because by doing those things, it quickly makes me happier and calmer no matter the situation. Thanks for your post.

  9. Gretchen Mahaffey

    This is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing and allowing us to be reminded of God’s beauty and promises in all of us.

  10. Reblogged this on Tall Guy With The Camera and commented:

    We all have a point in life where everything starts to make sense, and yet we still question your motives of making unwise choices. Me, I would like to think, I’m finally on the right path.

  1. Pingback: Sometimes reality hits you like a train…. | Tall Guy With The Camera

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