Last Monday I discovered that angels are real. I met one sitting next to me. When she introduced herself, I repeated her name by spelling it. She immediately corrected me saying, "It is not S-o-n-y-a, it is S-o-n-i-a." I promised I would not make that mistake again.
Sonia and I sat side-by-side on the airplane, awaiting departure from Seattle, Washington, destined to fly together to Charlotte, North Carolina. When I asked Sonia her age, she replied, "I'm 10 and 11/12's." Happily, she shared, "My birthday is next month, and I can hardly wait." She asked my age. I replied, "Sonia, I am 54 years old. You remind me of Kim, my daughter, when Kim was 10-11/12's." We laughed.
Actually, I was returning from an exquisite tour of the Canadian Rockies. I thought my trip had ended when I boarded the airplane at Tacoma Airport to return home. Little did I know; it had only begun.
Sonia began sharing her life with me, including the reason she was leaving Seattle. She shared that she visits her Dad and her Stepmother once a year for three weeks, adding, "You know, that's not enough. I was crying while sitting here all by myself, but somehow I stopped when you sat next to me."
"That's interesting, Sonia,” I responded. “I have a fear of flying, but somehow it's not so bad as I talk with you." We smiled with each other.
Sonia pulled at my heartstrings. While feeling the tug, I listened as she continued telling me of love for her two families - her mother and stepfather in Asheville, North Carolina, and her dad and stepmother in Seattle, Washington. She smiled as she shared her three-year-old sister's antics. Sonia added, "Christian, my stepbrother, finally got old enough to play board games. We rarely fuss anymore because we like to do the same things." It was apparent that she had already developed a great capacity to love, and I told her so.
She shared, "At one time I did not feel that way." She explained to me that divorce hurts children. She said, "I don't think it matters what age a person is, divorce creates pain and grief for everyone involved. See, I had to recover from the divorce of my parents, too; it didn't simply begin and end with them. I began recovering when I realized what happened was not my fault. Also, I had to forgive them for hurting my heart."
Needless to say, Sonia grew into an exceptional ten year old . . . well, almost eleven. It was apparent that this little one was intelligent beyond her years.
As Sonia continued to share other ways of how she gained acceptance of her parents' divorce, I simply listened to her.
In the beginning, while listening to Sonia's pain, I became tearful. I don't know if I felt that sadness because of Sonia or my daughter. Probably, I was sad for each one, including myself. Kim is thirty-one years old now. My former husband and I divorced when she was twelve years old. Sonia was teaching me, from the eyes of a child, the heart-wrenching pain involved in watching parents divorce. It would seem that I could have figured that out for myself. However, I never had the opportunity of hearing a child's viewpoint, or maybe I was so caught up in my own problems at the time.
Sonia taught me many things as we shared our time together flying from the west coast to the east coast. Occasionally, we included Alexander in our conversation Alexander Fenius, Sonia's stuffed teddy bear, was flying with her. Sonia expressed, "Sometimes I must talk things out with Alexander to keep my feelings from getting pent up. Alexander and I wouldn't make it if we were both stuffed." She smiled.
Sonia showed me how strong a 10-year-old can become after experiencing growing pains. Sonia demonstrated that joy awaits any of us after divorce if we allow it. Sonia indicated that life is to be lived in the present as we called out imaginary shapes discovered in the clouds; Sonia saw a hotdog, and I saw a bumblebee. Sonia showed me that fun is in the air when she asked me to play tick-tack-toe, a game I'd forgotten existed. Sonia won some games and I won some games. Sonia taught me that it's more important to meet a new friend than to win a game; she showed me that age makes no difference.
My sad tears for Sonia and Kim disappeared. All fear of flying had been eliminated without my awareness. In fact, Sonia and I were having fun when the captain announced, "We are beginning descent and will be landing in approximately ten minutes. Everyone please fasten your seatbelts and raise your seats to an upright position."
Suddenly, it dawned on me that this would end our adventure together. I was aware of how very much Sonia taught me about the pains and joys that life delivers to us all. We wished each other Godspeed with a good-bye hug. Sonia directed Alexander to give me a good-bye kiss. God truly planted me in that specific seat, buckled me up, and sent me an angel during that flight.
As I departed the aircraft, another angel was standing there to greet me. When I saw Kim, I had tears, but they were the liquid sunshine kind of teardrops. There stood MY angel at the end of the rainbow, one worth far more than a pot a gold. In fact, she's priceless. What beauty! There are no more words. That kind of love can only be felt . . . not explained. What a joy!