Serendipity means a “fortunate happenstance” or “pleasant surprise”. It was coined by Horace Walpole in 1754. In a letter he wrote to a friend Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had made by reference to a Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. The princes, he told his correspondent, were “always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of. (Wikipedia)
I am a lover of all things serendipity and recently I had one of those most pleasant surprises on a flight home from Alabama. Maybe some folks would say that this event was nothing out of the ordinary. Some might say I was reading something into a situation and a conversation. Those people would be wrong. Very wrong.
Recently as I was flying back to Mason City on my little “intimate” Air Choice One plane I had an entire flight filled with serendipity. As I waited in the boarding area in Chicago there were 2 other families and myself ready to go on the flight. Our pilot and co-pilot were there and it was agreed that since we were all there we might as well leave a bit early so we could arrive home earlier. That is the beauty of flying on a small plane. Win win in my opinion and so the family of 4, the family of 3 , the pilots and I boarded our sweet plane to head home.
The plane has captains chairs and the middle row is 4 chairs facing each other if that makes any sense. I didn’t take a picture but you can figure it out, right? So I was sitting facing the one dad who was flying back with his teenagers who were sitting in the back of the plane.
So the dad is a “talker”. Sometimes that is irritating on a flight and especially on a small plane like this one I was a bit apprehensive about how this flight was going to go because I was seriously going to be held captive by this man on a 2 + hour flight if he talked the entire flight. But God in all His wisdom provided a serendipitous moment for me and it was wonderful.
As the young man talked he shared that he and his two kids were coming back from a tropical vacation. His wife and their mom had passed away months before and this was a trip for the three of them to enjoy time together – away from all of the sadness and grief. The sadness that envelops the soul when a loved one dies and there appears to be no good reason why it has to be that way.
She had cancer and was a fighter from everything that he told me. She did not pity herself. She stayed strong. She did not cry about her situation or question why it was happening. She just did the best she could do and fought. As we talked he shared a lot of her story, a lot of his story and a some bits and pieces about how their lives had changed during her illness and after her death last year. Raising two kids without a mom has to be a daunting task in and of itself but coupled with having to deal with grief of his own it seemed like it would be almost too much to bear.
But he is doing it and doing it to the best of his ability. As we talked he shared that Hospice had been of great help to them during the months that she had been sick and even after her death he said that they were still there for him.
And that is when the serendipity happened. He mentioned a card that he got from Hospice after she had passed away. Yes, one of “MY” cards. I asked him if it was handmade and signed by the team that had cared for his wife and he just looked at me and nodded. I told him that I had made that card and that I pray over those cards and the people whose hands will touch them when I hand them over to Hospice of North Iowa. It was then that we had a moment. You can imagine. It was incredible.
As you can imagine I do not know where my cards go after they leave my hands. I abide by strict confidentiality in all things related to Hospice because that is the nature of Hospice. But this was different. This was a moment that I will always treasure and I think you can imagine why.
When we deplaned and as I waited for my ride (that is another story for another day!) he got his luggage and came to say goodbye to me. As we talked he thanked me for listening to him the entire flight and I told him it was my privilege. He thanked me for the card and then because it felt right – we hugged. A nice long and satisfying hug from one who might have needed that seat across him on that flight to be occupied by someone who is a good listener. Serendipity? Yes. And it was wonderful.
Have you ever had an experience that is serendipitous? I would love to hear about it in the comments and remember each comment this month goes to our Comments for a Cause Room to Read.