Friday, July 2, 2010
Flying Toward the Setting Sun
When I left my house in Newton, bound for the funeral of E.'s cousin Art in Portland, Oregon, I expected an emotional journey. I knew Art well and his untimely death had shocked and saddened me. I anticipated that my time in Portland would be intense, but I didn't imagine that the flight itself would be filled with unpredictability and drama.
We boarded our Alaska Airlines flight early and everyone was seated and ready to go five minutes before our scheduled departure time of 4:50 p.m. A flight attendant announced that we'd be pulling away from the gate momentarily. But we didn't. We just sat there.
Twenty minutes passed. Then the captain came on the speaker system to inform passengers that there had been a "minor" security breach at Logan Airport which had resulted in the airport being shut down for about fifteen minutes, during which time all departures had been suspended. He assured us that the airport had reopened and that although the queue of departing flights was now quite long, we would leave shortly.
Another ten minutes passed and a flight attendant announced that our departure would be slightly delayed while we awaited the boarding of two more passengers, who had apparently been held up during the security breach.
When E. and I arrived at the airport, the weather was hot and sunny, but the forecast had mentioned the possibility of severe storms during the late afternoon. Now, looking out the airplane window, I could see black clouds filling up the sky to our west. I wasn't optimistic. Sure enough, the captain soon let us know that because of concern about tornadoes to the west, no westbound flights could leave. Tornadoes! They're rare in Massachusetts, but the weather apparently reflected my apocalyptic mood. I didn't relish the idea of being in a crowded airplane with a funnel cloud approaching. But I had no choice.
I called my son, Alex, who was back at the house, dog-sitting for Cosmo. The house was directly in the path of the storm and, sure enough, Alex said it had been wild and windy a few minutes earlier. Soon the wind and rain came directly over us, rocking the plane a bit. But no tornado materialized.
Once the rain let up, we left the gate, then parked near a runway for a while, then returned to another gate. Finally, three hours after our scheduled departure time, we took off for Portland, flying toward the now setting sun. From then on, the flight was uneventful, but the drama wasn't over.
As we left the storm behind, the sun finally set in the western sky. Like most of us, Art had his stormy moments and his sunny days. But few of us have lived life as fully as he. I, along with a multitude of friends and family, will miss him.
Posted by Barbara at 6:20 PM