Peter, my husband for forty-some odd years, passed away in October of 2010. It had been a year almost to the day, that he’d suffered a heart attack on a plane, upon our arrival into JFK, coming home from Germany.
My Dear Ones,
I am leaving for the Fatherland once more. It’s been awhile. Oh God, the heart attack on the plane. I’ve been on planes where other people had serious problems. They’d sometimes put them behind a curtained off area in front. Maybe they were already dead at 30,000 feet. The crew is trained to make it “alright”...to make everyone know it isn’t the flight that has anything to do with it. It’s a stay-in-your-seat kind of attitude. It’s “Is there a doctor aboard?” Beau Jarred asked a stewardess for oxygen. At first she said, “Sir, please, we’re landing. Return to your seat.” “It’s my father” Beau impinged. And she got the oxygen.
Peter went cold, drained and unconscious. Beau picked him up and got him onto the emergency chair upon landing. I threw everything in a bag that the stewardess gave me. It was so unexpected. Someone had an aspirin. No one said “heart attack.” I thought it was a breathing problem. Most people glanced but didn’t look. Two doctors (well, one was an anesthesiologist) and the man in front of me, who had his seat up and down the whole trip and annoyed me no end, looked into my eyes, and maybe took my hand and said, “He’ll be alright” -- “alright” in a German accent. He was young and academic but everyone else knew they were not really to be there. Nothing anyone could do, just file out past the panic, the heart attack that I didn’t know happened. Would I have stopped and said, “He’ll be alright”?
I hope so. It made me feel a bit more safe, or able, or present. That was the important thing. Stay focused. Be present. Be there for what will be.
Now I go back, just Beau and me. We’re going to do the first German tour since Peter passed. “Are you excited about the German tour, Melanie?” Oh, I am, yeah, a little apprehensive. What if someone on the plane has a serious problem? I’m going to bring aspirin this time. I’ll say comforting words. We’re not supposed to stop and add chaos or confusion. So I’ll just give my aspirin and I’ll say “He’ll be alright” and then I’ll sing, Darmstadt first. People will live and die, celebrate, go on summer holiday and I will sing my ass off (I wish). I will be ready for anything. I will have gone through the wall of fire.
And I am ready for Germany.
All photos by Beau Jarred Schekeryk