Send Flowers

Bald Solomon |

Jeremiah raced through Chicago O’Hare airport, trying to reach his next gate in time.

“I have to make this flight.”

This wasn’t just any friend—this was his college roommate and his comrade since grade school.

The bustling terminal blurred around him as he dodged through the faceless travelers.  Another crowd.  Another delay.  Another stop.

“I need to be at his funeral.”

As he scrambled up the sixty steps to Terminal 2 and turned right around one last corner, Jeremiah glimpsed his departure gate. “The door is still open!”

“United Flight 2171 to Des Moines delayed,” the announcement squawked. 

“No, no, not again!”

Jeremiah interrupted the gate agent. “I need to get to Des Moines for a funeral. How can I get on a different flight?”

The gate agent, a kindly middle-aged woman with a sympathetic smile, shook her head. “I’m so sorry, sir. All flights into Des Moines are delayed due to this storm. There’s nothing I can do at the moment.”

Jeremiah’s frustration boiled out. “But I’ve already missed two rebookings. I can’t miss this. Please, is there anything at all?”

The agent typed into her computer, her nails clicking against the keys. “I understand. Let me see what I can find.” After a few tense moments, she stopped, her expression apologetic. “I’ve put you on the standby list for the next available flight, but there are no guarantees.”

Jeremiah thanked her, though his gratitude was laced with disappointment. He slumped into a nearby chair, his face tensed as he watched the minutes tick by. Every announcement made his heart race, and each delay piled another weight onto his worried mind.

The terminal buzzed with the mundane activity of other travelers—families on vacation, businessmen glued to their phones, children tugging on their parents’ sleeves. Jeremiah felt alone, his singular focus to get to his friend’s funeral a stark contrast to the casual indifference around him.

Jeremiah felt a surge of hopefulness as he boarded the rebooked flight, the last flight into Des Moines tonight. As he settled into his window seat, his mind wandered to his lost friend and his childhood memories.  Tired eyes fluttering, he drifted away, remembering…

The pilot abruptly interrupted Jeremiah’s dreamy thoughts. “The weather in the Des Moines area continues to worsen.  We are returning to the terminal to deplane.  You will need to rebook onto a flight tomorrow. Your gate agent will provide you with a complimentary hotel voucher.”

Jeremiah’s shoulders slumped, only now admitting that he would not be at his best friend’s funeral.

– – –

Hours later, at the hotel check-in counter, Jeremiah noticed an elderly woman struggling with her suitcase. Her face was etched with worry and fatigue, her shoulders sagging. Jeremiah’s own grief and disappointment seemed to momentarily recede as he approached her.

“Excuse me, ma’am, would you like some help with your bag?”

The elderly woman looked up, relief flooding her features. “Oh, thank you, young man. I’m trying to check in, but this suitcase is too heavy for me.”

“No problem,” Jeremiah said, lifting the suitcase. “I’ll take care of it for you.”

They walked together to the check-in desk. “Are you traveling alone?” Jeremiah asked, trying to make conversation.

“Yes, I’m visiting my granddaughter in Des Moines, but all the flights were canceled. I don’t know anyone here and I am feeling quite lost,” she said.

Jeremiah grasped the lady’s worry. “I understand. Because of these delays, I am missing my best friend’s funeral. It’s been a rough day.”

The woman patted his arm. “I’m so sorry to hear that. Losing a loved one is always hard. But please understand, sometimes things happen for reasons we can’t understand.”

“I just feel so helpless,” Jeremiah admitted. “I want to be there for him, to say goodbye.”

“Yes, dear,” she said. “But sometimes, helping someone right here, right now, can be just as meaningful.”

Jeremiah nodded, her words sinking in as she closed her hotel door. “Thanks for letting me help you. It’s… it’s good to do something useful.”

“You are kind,” she said with a modest smile. “And kindness has a way of coming back to us when we need it most.”

After ensuring the woman was secured behind her locked hotel door, Jeremiah headed to his own room.  He lay on the bed in the dark, the weight of his loss so present, but now so was the warm light of his simple, selfless act.

Maybe grief and joy can coexist, each moment claiming its own unique place in our march of life.

Grief and joy. Make it be so.

– – –

Proverbs 14:13: “Even in laughter the heart may ache and rejoicing may end in grief.”

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