As I boarded the plane in Florida, I immediately began scanning the plane for available seating. Even though we were in the Group A boarding, Tom and I had already agreed we would take the first available seats regardless of if we were together or not. I, without hesitation, chose the second row to the left, middle seat, and Tom filled in with an isle seat, row 3, to the right. Upon taking my place, I immediately picked up on the scent; White Diamond perfume. Normally, I cringe when forced to share someone else’s choice of perfume, but this, to me, was like a warm hug.

Mom’s Perfume.

I smiled to myself, appreciating I would be smelling it for the next two hours or so until reaching our connecting flight. I leaned over and asked the elderly lady, “Is your perfume White Diamond?” She looked thoughtful and then said “It’s Elizabeth Taylors…. Yes, it’s White Diamond” … and then she thought more and said “I have others of hers, but I like this one best… is it too much?” I told her no, it wasn’t, and she was just fine.

It’s been almost 5 years since loosing mom. In the beginning there seemed to be signs from her all the time. More gentle acknowledgement than anything else that she was still here, looking out for us or just knowing she was present. I looked at this lady … dressed in blue from head to toe – including the gems in her clip on earrings. I looked for purple, while remembering my encounter, almost 5 years ago, with the woman in St. Louis and her purple nail polish. Purple was “mom’s color.”

There was none.

I accepted the perfume was enough. Enough of a reminder, enough validation, enough to make me smile and enough to hold in my heart. Mom was traveling with me — even if only for a little while, I could smell her.

I settled into my seat and napped for the rest of the flight. The slam of the wheels on the runway woke me with confirmation we were indeed on the ground. I silently said to myself, “Navy pilot.”

I smiled at the lady beside me and told her “Welcome Home.” During our initial conversation, she had told me in her soft southern accent she was returning home to Tennessee. She had just spent the last month in Florida with her sister.

Unbuckling my seatbelt, I stood and waited with everyone else for the plane door to open. Looking at my feet, then around the plane, I turned my gaze back to the lady, who also now standing, and was being helped with her carry on from the overhead.

Her very bold, very PURPLE carry on.

A lump in my throat grew even larger as she thanked Tom and another gentleman for helping her, and then placed her purse, that had been shoved under the seat, on top of it.

Her very bold, very PURPLE purse.

Within an instant, she was gone. Not knowing. Unaware of anything else other than getting home to her children who were there to pick her up.

Oh how lucky for them to be able to be there to bring her home. Oh how lucky for me to have had the opportunity to share her air, even if only for a little while.

——————————- 3.5 hours later ——————————

My next flight… the connecting in Nashville, TN to Baltimore… was a little quieter… sitting in the same seat, different plane, I slept the whole flight. I unbuckled my seat belt and leaned down to get my camera bag from under the seat. There on the floor was a purple wrist band with a heart on it. NO LIE. Again I just smiled and shook my head. “Hi Mom,” I thought to myself and picked it up and stuck it in my sweater pocket. I rose and looked to the lady still sitting to my left who now had her bag on her lap. It was a multitude of purples and blues…I almost laughed out loud, but caught myself.

I exited the plane, and Tom and I made our way to baggage claim. As we were waiting for the bags, I couldn’t help but reach in my pocket and pull out the purple paper wristband I’d picked up off the floor on the plane.

There had been writing on it, and in my haste, I hadn’t had an opportunity to read what it said. Standing there, with bags spinning on the baggage rack, everything around me became a blur except this one thing in my hand. “Hope Comes in All Colors.” The heart, as I saw now, was made up of a multitude of colorful ribbons.

Simply Amazing. Absolutely. Freaking. Amazing.

Mom’s here. I’m not able to touch her. But she’s certainly here. I know it.

#embracethejourney #storyteller #iswearidontmakethisstuffup