Well, I was “one of those people” that was stuck in the SWA flight cancellation madness on December 26th. I had met my husband in Sacramento after leaving my son, Liam (who is autistic) with his dad and step-mom in SoCal for a few days. Then 12/26/22 happened. 70% of SWA’s flights were canceled around the country including mine.
Stranded, I tried to find a rental car to drive down the coast 6 hours. The first place ran out of available cars just before it was my turn. The second place put me on a list for returning cars that they estimated to be at least a 5-hour wait (and it was already 6pm) that included having to stay at the airport car rental building and listen for my name to be called.
Hence began the opening chapter of my post-Christmas miracles. Meet Kelsey and Megan who have me sandwiched in-between them in this photo.
Kelsey and I met while sitting next to each other on the car rental building floor in Sacramento after our respective flights cancelled. She and Megan were trying to get to Los Angeles. I needed to get back to Ontario to pick up Liam and drive home to Phoenix.
Two hours into waiting, on a whim I decided to start checking with every car rental counter — even though it seemed impossible there would be any other answer than what I had already been given.
I got to the Alamo counter and miraculously they just had a car come in that was not already spoken for and agreed to let me drive it one-way to Ontario, CA.
So, I said, “what the heck” and asked Kelsey if she and Megan wanted to carpool with me as they were trying to get to LAX to take a flight back east. They took a big risk, too, and accepted!
About 6 hours later we arrived at LAX from Sacramento at 3:00am, took this selfie, and then I headed east to Ontario to complete the trip. Miracle #1!
I found I had some pretty amazing carpool buddies who I now consider friends! Kelsey serves our country in the military and Megan is a Speech Language Pathologist who specializes in Early Intervention. I enjoyed getting to know them and finding new friends in the midst of utter travel chaos!! Miracles #2 and #3!
As I reflected on this experience, I realized how much being Mom to my son, Liam, gave me the courage, wisdom and skills to take this leap of faith. Being his Mom has taught me to have heightened awareness of things going on around me. It’s taught me to be persistent and to look for solutions in unexpected ways. It’s taught me deep compassion and honed my people skills — especially in times of crisis and chaos. It’s taught me to be open to and accepting of the gifts and opportunities in every situation.
I could have easily been selfish, guarded, afraid, and indifferent to someone who had sat next to me for a couple of hours and shared their story with me. I could have made some excuse, walked away, and never looked back. But, raising Liam has given me many opportunities to hope, pray, and depend on the kindness, compassion, and understanding of strangers in some tough situations. This was my chance to stand in the gap and offer a blessing to someone else. To pay it forward. To be the difference I want to see in our world. To live a Bravely Intentional life! I am happy to report, we all made it to our respective homes safely AND with all our luggage — miracle #4!
What has being a parent or caregiver to your loved one with disabilities or other special needs taught you or equipped you with? How are you using those skills, tools, and experiences to positively impact your world? I’d love to hear your story, too!