They finally announced boarding. Now I don't believe for a moment that I'm the only person who goes through this. From the moment I enter the plane I start scanning ahead to see my seat. "Who's sitting next to me on this flight?" I wonder. "Is there anyone in my seat already?" That's happened a few times. "Are there any screaming babies nearby?"
Flight time is precious time for me. I sleep, write or read. So screaming babies and frequent bathroom people become a problem.
Today I get to sit next to a beautiful young girl who appears to be about 12 years old. As I approach my seat, she seems a little apprehensive and, I must say, very disappointed. You see walking in front of me was this handsome young male teenager. I could see that sparkle in her eye dim as he walked by and I sat down. I'll admit I was nervous and concerned. She was traveling alone and I was one of those strangers her parents told her not to talk to.
"Hi! My name is Bob," I said.
"Hello!" she replied without giving her name.
Then we spent the next one hour and fifteen minutes not saying a word.
She was a typical kid. She never sat still for longer than five minutes. Often times she reached into her carry-on and pulled out what appeared to be six brushes, four packs of gum and all the empty wrappers, a bag filled with jaw breakers, a tube of rainbow-colored sugar crystals, and three-foot-long licorice.
Oh, yes she also ate two bags of airplane peanuts. I gave her mine.
"She's only 12," I argued. "She won't find my book interesting. Do they even know how to read at 12?" I thought sarcastically.
But again and again I heard it repeat, "Give her one of your books!" And so I opened one up, signed it, and said, "I am a professional speaker and author. I'd like to give you one of my books, if you would permit me."
She giggled a bit and said yes, followed by "Oh, thanks!"
I then began to explain the story.
"It's a fictional story based on actual events. I changed the names, but basically much of this is true. My oldest son Keith had cancer, and that's part of this book."
"Oh, I'm sorry", she said.
"No need to be. He's doing just fine, thank you. Where are you from?" I asked.
Then, for the next ten minutes, this young lady never stopped talking. In fact, as we were leaving the plane she talked and walked backwards down the aisle.
Much of what she said was all a blur for me after she said these words: "Wow, I just saw the Hershey Medical Center mentioned in there. Is that where your son went for his cancer treatments?"
I nodded yes.
"That's where I had my heart transplant five years ago," she said with a big bright smile.
Heart transplant. This child had a heart transplant. Then I took notice. Right at the top of her pink t-shirt, just below her collar bone, the beginnings of a scar peeked over her collar. This vibrant young girl had the heart of a donor. Obviously a young donor who lived in a family that cared enough to save another child's life.
She continued to share the details of her stay at Hershey. I continued to listen in amazement. For the story she told was a familiar one. She was the girl down the hall we had all prayed for. I never knew how things turned out for her until today.
They say some lives cross because they were meant to. This was more than a chance meeting. I discovered that this child leaving Pittsburgh to go home to Kentucky was a patient in the same hospital, on the same floor, at the same time my son was there. That little Voice inside of me kept telling me to give her a copy of my book. I argued. The Voice won...as always.
The last words she said to me were, "My mom always told me that God was going to call me home, but then He had a 'change of heart!' Do you get it?" Then she giggled as she walked through the last door into the arms of her loving family.
I got it. I heard the Voice say, "Now you know why!"