It all depends on what you decide to look at, hear, enjoy, and focus on.

It was a bumpy ride with delays, bad weather, deplaning, more delays, and more bad weather. Although we had clear skies in Memphis, storms were at full force in Chicago. And, so, we were forced to wait on the tarmac at the Memphis airport for a while. We would end up deplaning after a couple of hours. Then, after waiting in the Memphis airport, then re-boarding the plane, we waited on the tarmac for another two hours. When we got to the tarmac, all looked good and good to go. But, then we feel—and see—the wing looking like it was fighting with the wind. Then, we see lightning and ultimately, dark clouds and rain approach us. And, so, we sat in the middle of a dark storm on the tarmac.

A sweet moment in the middle of a storm

The little boy behind me starts singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Before I realise what I am doing, I start singing along with him. It is important to note here that I don’t call myself a singer. I might enjoy humming a little ditty or belting out a tune when the radio is on full blast. But, this was different. Something came over me that inspired me to sing along with this little boy whom I hadn’t even made eye contact with, yet.

He continues to sing and we are singing together.

As the plane is being pelted with rain and wind, I am singing this beautiful song with a four-year-old I don’t even know.

Just as our duet debut concludes, I am feeling happy and content about this brief and soulful connection. Then, I feel something on the top of my seat. I look up and I see a beautifully illustrated children’s book. It is teetering back and forth. Then, I realise this boy is trying to get my attention.

I admire the book, “Oh, what beautiful colors!” “Wow! That looks like a fun book!” He then hands me his book. I admire it some more as he describes the people on the front of the book. Then, he asks, “Will you read this to me?”

Joy and peacefulness

My heart welled up with a joy and peacefulness that brought tears to my eyes. I make eye contact with his mom with a non-verbal, “Is it ok that I read to your son?” Her eyes filled up with tears as she mouthed an affirmative, “Yes, please!” (She was sitting across the aisle. The boy was sitting in the window seat behind me with his brother in the seat next to him.)

I felt honoured to read this beautiful story about a boy who visits his grandparents, the silly games they play, and how it is ok to feel happy and sad at the same time. Not to mention the fact that I got to use my different voices and accents. In one point in the book, they talk about who might come to visit, “Or maybe the Queen of England comes to visit you.” I said that part with my “best” English accent. The little boy seemed happy to say, “YOU’RE not the Queen of England!” And we both laughed.

The right place at the right time

I was in the right place at the right time. As I was reading the story (upside down and while on my knees), the boy’s mom put her hands over her heart and with tears in her eyes mouthed the words, “Thank you.” When we got off the plane in Chicago, she made a point of thanking me for engaging with her son. “What you did for him was so beautiful. Thank you for being there. I could see your soul shining through. Thank you.”Those were the most beautiful words I heard—and felt—that day.


About the author: To find out more about Julie Ostrow, click here.


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