I hope no one on the packed jetliner saw me cry today. I was crying for her even though I barely knew her.
It was on Friday that she passed. She lay down nearby and never rose again. Summoned immediately, our response was swift. We worked on her for almost an hour, a tight circle of people kneeling clustered about her, working in tandem and issuing curt commands to each other which were instantly obeyed. But she didn't come back.
The trip member who had raised the alarm came up to me later that evening and rubbed my back briefly as I stood there glumly, and said we had done all we could in the circumstances. It felt so good to have a momentary physical connection with a living person. I inanely told her that coincidentally, I had taken a CPR course just six weeks ago. I earnestly told her how well everyone in the little group had performed.
On the plane ride back home five days later, as I was writing notes about that day, I became overwhelmed with the grief and disappointment of losing a fellow being. Of having someone die even as my hands were on her for almost an hour, beseeching her to hold on. When it was over, the living just got up and walked away and continued on with their lives.
I put down my pen, closed my notebook and my eyes, and leaned my head far back into my seat. I kept brushing those pesky tears off my cheeks as soon as they trickled down.
At that moment on the plane, I wanted someone I loved and who loved me that I could hold onto as I replayed it in my mind. I wanted to cry out my hurt and pain over the loss of another on a loved one's shoulder. But although I was soon to be home and my three adult sons live in town, they don't care for me nor speak to me. These self-absorbed young men are not persons I would ever look to for help. The rest of my family lives elsewhere.
I wish that lady had lived. I can still see her husband of 48 years, shock etched on his face, kneeling in the sand off to the side, holding her hand as we worked. Damn it all, we worked so long and hard and got such wonderful assistance from everybody there and we had no damn success.