Airports & Little Things

Airports are similar just about anywhere you go.

Seasoned travelers will attest to this, despite the fact that every airport has different nuances.  Regional aspects of culture and cuisine.  But the smells are pretty similar.  The use of light and windows and concrete.

I could easily be in LAX right now.  Except for the fact that we departed LAX 13 hours ago.  The news broadcast on the TV two rows of seats over is in Korean, not English.  And I’m laying across four seats, praying that my back un-seizes enough for me to complete the last leg of our travels – a five hour flight from Seoul, South Korea to Hanoi, Vietnam.

The similarity in surroundings is both comforting and disconcerting.  An hour ago I could barely debark from our plane the pain was so bad.  Not just my lower back, which went out two weeks ago due to stress (I suspect, since I wasn’t doing anything memorable to throw it out!), but now all sorts of ancillary muscle groups that are being tightened as I favor my lower back.  High-powered ibuprofen has kept the worst of the pain at bay, but I was worried it was losing potency.

What do you do when you’re half a world away from the support systems you’re used to?  You cope.  You stretch out on the seats and give thanks for the relief it gives your back, and pray that it allows you to get to your destination.  You give thanks for health, and you have a better affinity for those who suffer regularly from all manner of ailments large and small.  You remind yourself – frequently – that it could always be worse, and that this too shall pass.  You give thanks for the strength and resilience of your wife.

And it passes through your head that sometimes it’s the little things that get you.  Like a case of pneumonia, where one moment you’re laughing and joking with the nurses and the next moment you’re being sedated just so you can rest and breathe.  You don’t know as the sedatives flow through the IV that you aren’t going to wake up.  You don’t realize that this is It.  And it isn’t you any longer struggling to make it through, but it’s everyone you leave behind struggling to keep going.  Praying a lot for relief, for life and health even though tenuous, and you remind yourself that things could be worse, even if you aren’t immediately sure how.  You have faith that you will get through it, thankful for the strength and resilience of friends and family to see you through.

We don’t know whether what we’re dealing with at any given moment is a minor inconvenience, a temporary frustration, or It.  I guess all we can do is live each day to the best of our ability so that regardless of category, we have as few regrets as possible, and hopefully so do those we leave behind.  And we look forward to the hope and promise that one day, there won’t be an It any more to hide under our beds waiting to jump out and grab us.

Boarding starts soon.  Time to go use the restroom.

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