An Ugly Crier

Four years ago on this very spot in the Houston airport I had a complete emotional breakdown. 

The TSA line was backed up and I was running late for my flight home. As I realized that I might miss my flight and be stuck in Houston one more day, I started crying and couldn’t stop.

I’m an ugly crier, my face screws up, my nose starts running, the tears spill messily from my eyes and I make these little hiccup noises. It’s no wonder all the people in line stepped away from me, refusing to make eye contact. 

While I waited 15 minutes in that line and bawled my eyes out, not a single person asked me what what was wrong. 

Did they think I was crazy? Understandable. Did they think I was begging for attention?  Probably. Maybe they thought I was drunk? That’s a horrifying thought.

Not drunk or crazy, I was exhausted after spending 72 straight hours with my aunt. The last conversation I had with her was eight years ago about a Christmas present I sent her, a small pink miniature rose bush. She hated it. I stopped making an effort to connect with my mom’s sister at that time.

Now, over the span of three days, I found out she had Alzheimer’s, began looking for a memory care facility, started the process of selling her home and possessions of 40 years and taking over for her legally and financially. It was too much and all my bottled up emotions came to a head in that TSA line.

“Excuse me but is there a line for frequent flyers? I may miss my flight.” I asked the TSA agent walking by. I couldn’t stay there another day. He didn’t even break stride, before answering no.

As I stepped back into line, the guy behind me rolled his eyes at me. Normally, I would take him down verbally for being such a dick but all I could do was mumble an apology. I’m not sure what the apology was for.

Now, four years later, I walked up to the same security line. No one there. No delay for my flight home. Another visit with my aunt in Texas and while it is still not a great situation, I’m dealing with it.

Recounting that moment four years ago, I don’t want people to feel sorry for me as to what was happening. Life can be tough at times and we all muddle through. Sometimes we handle it well and sometimes we don’t.

What I wanted in that moment was a pat on the shoulder and someone to tell me that it was going to be all right. Hopefully in all my travels I will recognize that kind of distress in someone else and reach out to them, not step away or roll my eyes at them but be brave enough to make a connection. Who knows what they might be going through at the time?

“It’s going to be all right.” Sometimes that’s all it takes for us to make a difference in someone’s life.


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