People that have left an impression 2

8 Jan

I hope she finds the peace she is looking for.

I was on a plane flying from a business trip.  I fly a lot, so I have become one of those ‘don’t talk to me types’.  I get that way more intensely on a long flight, and this was a 3 1/2 hour flight.  I had an isle seat and freedom from chatter was my goal.  I was in a row with three seats.  A man took the window seat – he was a chatter box on a rare flight – and between us a pleasant looking woman, probably around 55. 
I tried every trick I had to appear non social.  I smiled with out talking, opened my e mail to look busy, read my spread sheets and papers, composed a letter, and pretended to sleep.  I was never rude, or crabby, but I didn’t do anything social that would stir a conversation.
I noticed that the woman was reading a book.  I didn’t see the title but it was about heaven.  I have strong beliefs of faith, so that caught my eye.  I noticed she would read a bit then close the book.  She was uncomfortable, almost agitated with what she was reading.  There was some type of struggle with her and that topic.  I wondered why.
As the flight drew near the end, the man by the window began to talk to the lady.  I noticed she had a thick accent, and really didn’t want to talk to him either.  I asked her where her accent was from, I’m not that good at guessing, and she told me the Ukraine in 1993.  I asked her if she was flying home, or on a visit as we neared St. Louis.  As it turned out she was coming to visit her sister.  Her  family lives in St. Louis, except for herself, her husband,  and her children.  She lives on the west coast. 
Curiosity got the better of me, and I asked how she ended up on the west coast and her family in St. Louis after growing up in a communist country.   So she told me the story.  Her sister fell in love with a young pilot.  He flew for the soviet military.  He loved to fly, he was very smart and skilled.  They were married and had children.  It turns out she was a Christian, and so he became one too.  When the government found out he was a Christian he immediately lost his job.  I was prevent from working anywhere but the mines.  When he would apply for a job, and the employer looked up his name they would not have any work for him.  Since he had children he took a job in the mines, he was very sad about this because he loved to fly.  Then there was a change.  Gorbachev took power, and things began to change.  Her brother in law went straight to the embassy and asked to come to the USA.  With his skills and abilities being so good a church in St. Louis was willing to sponsor him and his wife and children.  Shortly after they arrived the lady’s sister was able to get passage for her mom and siblings.  So they came to America, specifically St. Louis.
While on her way with her husband and children she spoke to her dear friend who was living on the west coast.  The friend convinced her to move out there in stead of St. Louis, so being adventurous she did.  That was over 20 years ago.  I asked her if she came to St. Louis often to visit and she said it had been a while.  She did go to Germany to visit her brother for a while.  She began to speak of regret for not moving to St. Louis.  She was very sad about that decision.  I tried to support the decision she had made, it was a great part of the country. 
She looked at me and said she lost two of her five daughters.  I was taken back, and I asked her for clarification.  What did she mean by that?  She meant exactly that and more.  In 2006, while her son in law was in Iraq fighting for this country, a vile man broke into the home of her daughter and murdered the soldiers wife and sister, along with his two sons 5 and 3 years old.  While he was in Iraq her daughter lived with her sister to help with the children.  A man who had moved into the neighborhood about two weeks earlier broke into the house, violently murdered the 2 women and 2 children, and then set the house on fire to hide his crime.  He had gotten caught and convicted and just a few weeks before our meeting he was given his sentence – the death penalty.  She told me she spoke at his sentencing.  She told me what she said and what she felt.  I admire her strength and her dignity.
I was stunned.  Wow, this poor family.  This family is very close.  This was very evident.  Then these 4 precious lives were ripped away from them.  There is so much more than heart break and despair.  Despite that this woman smiled.  She said she forgave that man and focuses on her family.  She doesn’t want to be mired in hate and anger.  She wanted to live as happy of a life as possible with her family. Her pain is obvious, her hope is incredible.  She has questions and no answers, that book she was struggling with made a bit more sense.  I went home and looked up the details of the story.  It is all true.  It is all there to see.  What a beautiful family. 
So as this mother struggles and searches for peace and answers I will pray for her.  She may never find the answers, but she may find peace – especially if she continues to look for it through God. 
So I fly often, and now perhaps I need to look around myself with a more open heart, and a willingness to listen.  Maybe I can grow as a person, or lend an ear.  Either way, having met this mother, I believe I have become a slightly better person.  What a graceful and kind woman she is.
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