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Part One: The plane ride.

Sitting in the terminal, it occurred to me how angry I was at whoever named the waiting area. Terminal … cruel joke of a name. How can I combat this rising anxiety as I sit in a place called “terminal?”

Damn it. Thirty minutes until we board the plane.

Bags are checked at this point. My enormous Nine West upright clocked in at over 50 pounds due to the cache of juice bottles snuggled up against my dresses and sandals. Twenty-five dollars extra to check that bag. The people at the security checkpoints barely noticed the insulin pump peeking out of the front pocket of my jeans, except one security woman who put her hands out to stop me.

“Got to get rid of that iPod, lady. No iPods.”

Nerves raw. Anticipatory tears in my eyes.

“Not an iPod. It’s an insulin pump. I’m diabetic.”

Pause.

“Thought it was a fancy lookin’ iPod. Go ahead.”

No mention of the carry on bag, housing a full bag of syringes, two insulin pens filled with Humalog, seven bottles of test strips, my meter, back up pump supplies, and the ubiquitous Glucagon kit. I guess they really have seen all this stuff before. I had a letter from Joslin stating that “Kerri is a diabetic and will be carrying supplies necessary for traveling, namely …” and so forth, but it remained crisply folded in my handbag.

Barely time to blink before we’re through security, down that long corridor towards the plane, bags stowed in overhead compartments, and I’m nestled against the window, right over the engine.

I need to quell this rising panic. Second alloted Xanax pill is taken with shaking hands and a sip of water. Breathing deeply. Chris reaches over and wipes the tear from my face, leaning in and fixing his warm brown eyes on me. “It’s going to be okay. I promise. Just try to relax.”

Gripping his hand tightly, we taxi out onto the runway. Gaining speed, the nose of the plane raises up and I feel the ascent into the sky. A single tear escapes from my eye and I can’t wipe it away because I’m too scared. Engine roaring. Cabin pressurizing. The late afternoon sky painted pale pink by the setting sun and I closed my eyes as the plane took off.

“Baby, open your eyes.”

Lashes part and I see a blanket of clouds stretching as far as I could see, all the way to the horizon. Beautiful. The beat of my heart is suddenly no longer visible through my shirt. A deep sigh eases from my lips and I see Chris smiling out of the corner of my eye.

“You’re doing great, Kerri. You are doing a great job.”

Why did I wait this long to enjoy this view? Here, on top of the world. On top of the very clouds I’ve tried to find shapes in at baseball games.

The hum of the engines causes my eyes to close again, and I rest my head against Chris’s shoulder. A smile tugs up the corners of my mouth against the weight of my fear, and I drift off to sleep, thinking of the cruise ship that waits docked in Miami.

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