My first plane ride was on EgyptAir nearly 18 years ago was with my mom and sister, coming to America.
My second ride through EgyptAir was in January, flying from Cairo to Sharm el-Sheikh, and back, with my cousins.
I have a few but blissful moments with EgyptAir.
I don't remember much from the long ride to America except a moment of contentment that I was sitting next to my mom and sister and about to embark on a new journey. It was a journey that had led me on many paths in life -- successes and failures, growth, heartbreak and joy.
A journey that began through EgyptAir.
EgyptAir had safely brought me to an unknown place and left me to spread my wings and fly, reach for the stars, strive and thrive. It was as if it knew I couldn't do all that from where it had brought me.
My memories of my second ride are vivid. I took my cousins on their first plane ride and I could feel my heart flutter with joy as I watched their excitements and reactions to taking off and landing, and as I snapped a picture of my cousin, Khadija, praying in the air, something she told me she had hoped to do one day.
I remember the moment the intercom system was turned up with the travel supplication before taking off, a prayer Muslims recite before embarking on a journey -- no matter the length. That voice, base, and style of prayer was alltime Egyptian. It took me back to my childhood in Cairo, to Ramadan in Cairo, and gave me satisfaction. It was as if it tapped into my soul and awakened the child in me.
I was home.
I felt a serene sense of contentment and pride as we cruised in the air. This was yet another reason to be proud of my country, its accomplishments and greatness, I thought.
I felt proud.
I remember the moment I sensed my cousin tense up next to me as we were about to land into Sharm el-Sheikh. I calmly grabbed her hand. I took comfort in being next to her.
This is the moment I go to as I attempt to reconcile with the tragic crash of EgyptAir Flight 804. The moment I grabbed Khadija's hand flashes in front of my eyes when I think of those who were lost on the plane.
Did they hold hands?
I hope they did. I hope they found comfort in one another in moments of fear.
That is what Egyptians would do -- find comfort in moments of choas.
Faith in moments of uncertainty.
Peace in moments of grief.
Hope in moments of disbelief.
Until they meet again.