Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Someone Changed My Life...

Life throws us so many curve balls and it is so easy to allow those down moments to send you into a downward spin. I keep a very positive attitude but there are those moments that I just feel like “Really, is there one more thing to throw my way.” That was until I met Kenny.

I recently boarded a flight from Orlando to LAX and like many of my long hauls I was not getting upgraded. I went into a minor pity pool, walked over to the bistro to get “a bite before the flight” and even that was messed up. I ordered quiche and some hummus and pita bread. I received two take away boxes thinking one was the quiche and the other was the hummus. I open the bigger box and there was my quiche with the hummus spread all over the quiche. Now who does that. Anyone knows that hummus doesn’t go on quiche – oh well, I ate away. I got out my United drink coupons planning on having a few red wines on my 6 hour “coach” flight home while I watched MoneyBall for the 5th time.

What I didn’t expect was to meet Kenny. Kenny was 11 days old and born perfectly normal. He and his mother were in a terrible car accident in Los Angeles and the doctors didn’t think Kenny would ever survive. His mother was determined to keep her son alive and she did – I met Kenny on his 35th birthday coming back from a trip to Disney World where he has celebrated every birthday since he was 10 years old. Kenny can’t speak, he is legally blind but can see some shapes and shadows. He can hear and makes gestures to respond to his mother. He is fed through a tube in his stomach and needs to be changed like a baby during our flight.

So how did I become so familiar with Kenny? I was waiting to board with the rest of the crazy, hurried, overworked and “I’m too cool for school” crowd when they called my name and asked to step up to the podium. Of course I immediately thought – “I’m getting upgraded after all.” Well that was not the case – I was called up because I had the seat next to Kenny and his mother and they wanted me to board first since I had the window, so that I could get settled while they assisted Kenny on board.

For the next 6 hours I sat with Kenny and his mother – I didn’t have one sip of wine, I didn’t watch the movie, I didn’t read one book or listen to music. I became friends with Kenny and his mom. A women that has more courage than most people I have met. Her ability to look life in the face and take it with every grain of salt was just amazing. That 6 hour flight gave me back what we sometimes lose in our busy days of “business.” It brought reality back to me about life, love and what any mother would do to save her child.

I will always remember Kenny. He will never remember me, but that is ok, because in many ways Kenny, without knowing, is changing the lives of others.