Alex in 10 C

I felt the pain of a long travel day in my right knee as I shuffled down the jetway in Denver onto a flight bound for Omaha. 8 months ago I tore my meniscus while camping in Big Sur, resulting in a surgery I can’t yet afford to have and an injury that has kept me from running or playing sports since moving to Austin.
 
Looking out the window of seat 10A I tried to remember what running felt like as we waited for the final passengers to board. My internal pity party stopped the moment I heard a young man’s voice beside me.
 
“Hi. I’m Alex.”
 
I turned to see a familiar face – the young man in the wheelchair at our gate had just been assisted into seat 10C and now extended his hand to me in greeting.
 
“Hi Alex, I’m Betsy” I said, gently placing my hand around his fingers which were twisted and clenched into a crooked fist.
 
We began talking and I soon learned that Alex was on his way home from working 8 weeks of summer camp in Michigan. He was a counselor at a program for children with disabilities and was coming home to rest for a few days before starting his sophomore year at Creighton. He’ll be 21 this September, he loves animals, and both he and his twin sister were born with cerebral palsy.
 
One of the flight attendants came by after the safety briefing and said to Alex, “Young man, in case of an emergency would it be alright if I pick you up and we scoot on out of here together?”
 
With a smile (which due to his CP always made him drool a bit) Alex said,
 
“That sounds good to me! And, and, annnnd, and, and, and… and I’ll carry you next time”.
 
Listening to Alex took patience – often because the more excited he was to say something, the more he stuttered, which was incredibly endearing.
 
Alex showed me his camp notebook where several campers had written notes thanking him or wishing him well. He pointed to one in particular, the longest one, and told me it was okay to read it. It was from Alexis, a fellow counselor he’d met at camp who was without disability. He showed me pictures of them with friends by the lake, and at the ranger station where Alex led nature hikes from his mechanical wheelchair. He told me Alexis was in school to be a doctor, and that she’s a great runner.
 
“I let her win because I’m not the fastest,” Alex said, glancing down at his small, shriveled legs with a smile.
 
I couldn’t believe that moments ago I was frustrated about a temporary pain in my knee when the man sitting next to me had never run in his life.
 
“Alex,” I said, “thank you for your sense of humor. It’s refreshing and makes me smile”.
 
“You’re, you’re, you’re welcome. Life is, is, is, issss, is, is funny if you don’t take it too, toooooo, too seriously.”
 
Happy Friday friends - may we all live a little more like Alex.
 
:) Bets

In case you missed it, ACT 18: "me too" vs. "more you"