Flight For Our Lives

Just before they hoisted the gurney

into the helicopter

they waved us over—

my young son and me—

to say goodbye.



One arm cradling my shaken son’s shoulders,

I picked up her hand,

warm and weighty,

spread her fingers into a fan, and

kissed the middle of it.



We first did this

after reading The Kissing Hand

on her first morning of kindergarten.

“If you miss me,” I had said to her then,

“put your hand to your cheek and you’ll know

I love you.”

She had raised my hand to her face and

kissed me back.



I leaned forward now,

And, because

she couldn’t do so herself,

I placed her just-kissed hand on her cheek.

“We’ll see you soon,” I stage-whispered,

willing the uncertainty—

for her sake, 

for his sake, 

for my sake—

into submission.



Nurses secured safety belts, 

like parents strapping an infant into a car seat.

They checked IV lines, and shoved the stretcher—

laden with 

my hopes, 

my dreams, 

my fears—

onto the helicopter.



My son and I squeezed each other’s hands,

anchoring each other,

and staggered,

two shell-shocked soldiers emerging from combat,

toward the parking lot,

watching her fly above us,

away from us,

until she was a speck in the sky.



And then my man-son lifted my lifeless hand,

spread it into a fan with his small fingers, and kissed it twice.

1 thought on “Flight For Our Lives

  1. Julie Hoffmann

    Wow…my heart breaks for your sadness and pain. I can’t imagine how you felt as you watched her fly away, not knowing if you would ever see your sweet daughter again. The amount of strength needed at that moment must have felt like a crushing weight. But, you did what momma bears do, you reached deep within your heart and persevered.

    Reply

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