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”