When my Dad went down to Florida for rehab after finding out he had cancer it was a huge moment. Dad never willingly went to rehab on his own. After he finished rehab, Dad stayed with my grandparents in West Palm Beach for some more downtime before coming home. I think he needed time to think and some time away from “real life”.
Dad called me one day and asked if I would come to visit him while he was staying down there.
Now here’s the thing, I’ve always been terrified of flying. I’m talking about break your hand while we take off into the air bad. But at least I always had someone flying with me when I did fly.
This time I would have to fly all alone. I wanted to say no! I wanted to cry just thinking about getting on a plane by myself, but I knew it was something I had to do. He had done the work and actually went to rehab and got sober and well he had cancer. The least I could do was to go see him right? Anxiety or not it was something I had to do.
My Mom drove me to the airport when it was time to go. I was freaked out, a ball of nerves, scared out of my damn mind!
My Mom, being the amazing Mom she is, parked and came inside with me to check-in. When we got to the ticket agent my Mom said to the lady “ Look, my daughter is sixteen. She has never flown by herself before, and she’s scared, is there anything you can do?”
The lady was super sweet, looked at my Mom and said: “Don’t worry I think we can manage something.” I had no idea what the meant, but for some odd reason, it made me feel better.
Saying goodbye to my Mom was scary, I really didn’t want to be left alone to go see my Dad after everything that had happened prior. and I was so afraid of dying on the airplane. You have no control, and not being in control freaked me out. I already had no control over so many other things, I didn’t like not being in control of my life on this plane.
I ended up being very lucky that day. Every person was kind and helpful and lucky for me the plane wasn’t fully booked.
They let me sit up front on the plane which was neat because I don’t think I’ve ever sat all the way up front as a first-class flier. I was basically treated like a ten-year-old flying alone. BUT I don’t care because inside I felt like a little child on that big plane. My anxiety was overwhelming.
I was served warmed gooey delicious chocolate chip cookies like the rest of the first-class. The stewardess was warm and sweet and had the kindest smile. It’s odd the things we remember and store in our heads.
Take off was the worst, it always is. It’s the second I feel all my control being taken from me and I am at the mercy of the pilot. Fortunately, the plane ride was a smooth one and I am very thankful for that. I just wanted to land in sunny Florida as soon as possible.
We landed at the West Palm Beach airport; I knew it very well. Since I was born my family has been flying down there to see my Grandparents. I knew every turn to take, but I was still incredibly nervous. I hadn’t seen my Dad in a while and I was really scared to see him. Who wouldn’t be with what had gone on at home?
I figured my Dad was going to pick me up outside since I didn’t have any luggage just my backpack.
As I was walking down the long corridor that leads to baggage claims and taxi’s, I looked up and saw my Dad standing right behind the partition glass where people come in to greet whomever they were meeting. I hadn’t expected him to come in and wait for me.
But in an instant, everything I was scared of was gone. Seeing my Dad had me running towards him with tears in my eyes. And a feeling I couldn’t quite identify. Relief? Sadness? Happiness? Maybe all of it rolled up into one?
My Dad and I hugged so tightly. I honestly wish I could go back into that hug right now and stay there.
I can remember the way he was dressed, the way he stood, the smile on his face and every single fear melted away. After our embrace, I knew it was worth facing my biggest fear just to see him that way.
To this day I still go to Florida. Am I still scared to fly? Absolutely, but I refuse to allow it to control me.
I still always fly into West Palm, and every time I pass that glass barrier for the people waiting, I see his face. Every single time I look wanting him to be there for real just one more time.
It’s the same every time I go. I’ve never realized how you could look so longingly at the oddest things.
Even with all the crazy shit, I still loved my Dad. Even though there were times I loathed and hated him with an anger that scared me. He was my Dad, and he needed me. And to be honest, I really needed him. I always have.
Facing my fear was 100% worth it. We had one of the best times together during that visit, and it’s another one to put on the plus side and not on the negative of times with my Dad. I’ll take that any day.
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