I was 5 years old back then and it was my first trip to the airport. I was there to bid farewell to my cousin, who was going abroad to pursue his education. I remember sitting at the chilly cold airport, and being astonished at how huge the place was. I ran to the viewing dock and I saw them live for the first time. They were huge. Disappointed, I nudged at my mother's blouse and asked, "Mummy, where are the little planes? These are big. I want to see the tiny ones that fly in the sky!"
My mum, along with my whole family laughed, and my cousin picked me up and said, "These are the tiny ones you see, honey. You see when they are far, they seem smaller than their real size"; being the adorable and patient cousin he was, he explained to me how things seemed smaller when they are at a distant. I understood half of what he said, but I was satisfied.
I continued to stand glued to the window, looking at the magnificent giants take off into the air. I had so many questions in my mind, but I was just to awed by the planes to bother asking more questions.
Few hours passed and for the first time too, I saw them. Clad in neatly ironed suits, accessorized with the wing emblem, some wearing black jackets, while the rest holding the jackets on their shoulders loosely. Their shoes shinning. Their shoulders back, smiling they walked past us.
Following close were a group of beautiful ladies and handsome men, having the same posture, but with different colored attire. I was immediately attracted to them. It was something about their uniform and their style that made me go WOW! I want to be just like that when I grow up!
"Who are they?" I remember asking my cousin, and he simply said, "Oh, they are the captain and the cabin crew of the plane."
Captain. Cabin Crew. Wow. I want to just like them.
As I grew older, my dreams kept changing, but yet, I always had a thing for men and women in uniforms. They always attracted my attention.
Since my first visit to the airport, I have had many opportunity to go to the airport, to catch a flight myself, or just send off or receive someone; and every-time I am there, I will be keeping out an eye to get a glimpse of the cabin crew. Airports change, the cabin crew changed, but their style and charisma are still the same.
20 years later, I never managed to become a cabin crew. Nevertheless, I managed to get myself a pilot. A hunk, I may add. We tied the knot when I was 20 years old, and this year is our 5th year anniversary.
As a pilot, he loved his profession. I loved how his eyes would sparkle when he talks about his journey and the joys as a pilot. I won't lie, I don't understand half of what he said, but I always looked at him in awe. He is fully animated and 'alive' when it comes to planes or flying.
Yet, it always irritated me that he always has something technical to say when we watch movies with airplanes, or any flying object. He even had comments about the movie UP!
However, the most hurting part of our relationship, was that he was never home for my birthday. Somehow, every birthday, he would be away, flying. This was the only thing that ticked me off, except for this year.
This is the year, when he is going to be home! He changed his schedule, so that he can be home, with me, for MY birthday. I was ecstatic. I counted down to my birthday for 2 months.
I had lived a virtual birthday celebration with him in my head, and I was not able to wait.
He was scheduled to arrive a day before my birthday. In hopes of kicking of the celebration at midnight.
I was waiting at the airport, the day before my birthday. His flight was to be landed, but it was delayed 1 hour. I was curious at first; 3 hours later, my curiosity turned into fear. I checked the arrival board again, his flight was off the board. My heart stopped for a second. My body become to heavy to move, I froze like a statue, I can feel my fingers becoming icy cold and my mind was completely blank.
I am not sure for how long I stood there, but the next thing I know, I was in a bed at the airport emergency room. It took me a couple of minutes to gain back my consciousness, and when it did come back, I only managed to utter one sentence:
"Where is he?"
Although my lips had uttered the words, I was not so sure I was prepared to hear the response. Holding my heart in my sleeves, I waited for the aircraft representative to answer my question. The few seconds of silence, seemed like an eternity, I knew something was wrong. I didn't want to hear it. I kept telling myself
"no, no, no. He is fine".
The aircraft official spoke. His words were as though being uttered from a distance. I couldn't comprehend what he said. I kept saying the same thing. My mind wouldn't listen. It blocked everything.
"No, No, No. He is fine".
I forced myself to hear what the official had to say, I knew it was bad. The official had a grave expression.
"I am sorry ma'am. Your husband's flight crashed, and we believe there are no survivors", he said, carefully arranging his words, studying my reaction.
Truthfully, I didn't know how to react. Again, I went back into my shell. I didn't want to believe in anything. I just sat there. Not thinking. Not listening. Nothing. Just breathing. My mind went blank. It went into auto-pilot.
I saw him. It was the first time I saw him, I was staring at him, as how i stare at all the captains and the cabin crew when they walk pass me. But there was something different about this one. There was something different about his smile and the way he walked. It was like in a movie. Everything else went blank, I only saw him and his lean body covered by the perfectly fitted captain's uniform. My heart skipped a beat as he walked past me, leaving me breathless. His scent was dreamy. As he crossed, he looked at me. It was as though we had some connection, as if he looked straight through me. I was certain he was the one. I don't know how, but I just knew.
1 week later, my late husband's colleague came to visit. He was a pilot for the same airlines. I saw his face. So worn out, so hurt. Times have been hard on the whole crew. I lost my husband, the crew lost a family. I can imagine the pain they go through day in and day out.
"How are you holding up?" he asked, giving me a warm hug, a hug I really needed. I can sense the sorrow in his tone. My late husband and him were thick. They used to fly together, and spend time together on weekends; more of a best friend, than a colleague.
"I'm holding on. How are you?" I say, and a painful conversation trails along.
A few moments later, he hands me an envelope. Purple envelope.
"He wanted me to give this to you, in case anything happened to him. I don't know, this was kind of unusual of him, but he really wanted me to give it to you."
As soon as he left, I sat on the couch. Looking down at the purple envelope on the coffee table. I didn't know if I wanted to do this right now. If I had the courage. But curiosity got the better of me. I opened the letter...
Moments later, my pillow was covered with tears...
(Read the letter in The Captain's Letter)