We watch her walk down the isle of the plane. Blond hair pulled back into a pony tail. Black framed glasses resting on her nose. A newspaper and carry on bag in one hand, a Tim Horton’s coffee in the other. My husband takes her coffee and I take her newspaper and tuck it in the seat in front of her so she can manage her bag. She’s so grateful and makes a fuss. I watch her out of the corner of my eye as she spreads out her newspaper and takes out a pen. She reminds me of a character from Scoobie Doo. (Note to self: Read the newspaper more and get a pair of readers.) She circles something on the front cover of the paper. She’s a reporter? An editor? She’s in the news? She is. Her house is one of many that burned down in the Fort McMurray fires.
“Yup. It’s gone. Burned down with the rest of them.”
Her tone is easy. Fluid. She speaks like she’s not got a care in the world. I wonder if she cried out all her tears, told the story so many times that it’s just a script now. She shares more about the fires. The evacuation. The dynamics of the neighbourhood folks. Says she lost all the art she collected from around the world. Her photos from childhood.
“That was tough. But, well, ya know, what are ya gonna do.”
She mentions her husband, who she is divorcing. Speaks about him in such a respectful manner, complimenting his character.
"He sounds so nice. You should marry him!" I say. We both laugh.
"We are two different people. He likes to be alone. I got married to not be alone. So it’s for the best.”
The best. I let these words linger a while. I think about everything this woman has lost. Everything.
Maybe some people don’t see losing as having lost. A new adventure she tells me. New art to collect. A different place to live. Someone to not be lonely with. Lovely things waiting to be found.
She tells us that she used to be an airline stewardess but now she’s a pilot. Um...Canadian bachelorette...have you met this girl? Never mind. I get the feeling she wouldn’t be into that kind of thing. We talk about flying and what it takes to get your license and then we’re landing and she’s on the phone saying,
“I met this really nice couple and just wondering if you know anyone that can upgrade their seats on their next flight”
We’ve literally done nothing. She’s the one who could use a favour and yet she’s pulling out the stops for us. Because when you’re nice to the nice, nice things tend to happen? Maybe. But THIS girl! She’s rubbed off on me. This cute, smart, generous, resilient, humble Canadian girl from Alberta, she circles her burned down house in pen like it’s the right answer on a test and then folds it up and puts it away. THAT’S how I want to live with loss. Thank you Jen. You just upgraded our seats without even knowing.