Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Getting home on time

I was on a plane yesterday flying from Kansas City to Chicago and saw a man die. It was so awful, so, so awful. He walked onto the plane and I commented to David that he looked like Kramer from Seinfeld but with giant glasses. He looked about 45 years old. He was 4 rows in front of us and 15 minutes into our 1 hour flight the people next to him called the stewardess who was running the beverage service. He looked like he was having a mild seizure and then he went limp. There was all sorts of running around and they pulled him into the aisle and laid him down right in front of us. A doctor and a couple paramedics who happened to be on the flight shocked him a few times and did CPR for the rest of the eternally long flight. Everybody was crossing themselves and the stewardesses were crying and counting to 10 over and over for the paramedics. It looked just like a scene from ER except there were people crawling over each other and over seats to get passed the dying man and pass the defibrillator to the doctor or pass the oxygen tank or more gloves.
Obviously we had priority landing at the nearest airport and we were, "flying at maximum speed due to a medical emergency", but he didn't respond to the CPR for at least 30 minutes. He just passed on, right there in front of us. A stranger to everyone on that plane. It was awful, so awful.
They took him out on a stretcher and then the captain turned off the fasten-seatbelt sign and we all got up, took down our carry-on luggage and dispersed into the terminal. And that was it. Nobody said anything, nobody said a prayer or blessed the body...we all just went about our business. David and I caught our connection (which we probably would have missed if we hadn't had priority landing). Nothing changed. We weren't even inconvenienced by this man's passing. I desperately wanted to miss our flight. Or to have to stay in Chicago overnight -maybe be stuck on the plane extra long. I wanted my bags to be lost. Anything, anything to mark the passing of that stranger. It was awful, so awful to just walk to our gate, stand in line at the McDonald's, eat Chicken Nuggets, board the plane and get home on-time. A man died and I caught my flight.

May the soul of that faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace...

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