I have spent a significant amount of time over the last seven years visiting the airports along the northeast seaboard including Bar Harbor Airport, Bangor International Airport, Portland Jetport, Pease Air Force Base and Logan International. My time there though has not been spent getting on planes but rather finding the most strategic location to watch planes take off and land. Airplanes have always been a huge source of delight for my daughter Eliza, who was born with Atypical Rett Syndrome. If I am to be completely honest, I too have always gotten a thrill out of watching those incredible mechanical birds of flight soaring through the sky.
So you can only imagine Eliza's thrill when she recently took her very first commercial flight to NYC. It was a beautiful day and as we drove to the airport, Eliza could see the planes in the sky and her excitement grew. When we passed our location where we usually park and observe the planes she let out a voice of discontent but I assured her that what I had in store for her would be so much better and she seemed to accept that. We parked and entered into the small airport and quickly made our way through ticketing and security. The TSA agents were so kind to my children and Eliza's enthusiasm seemed to be infectious to all that encountered her. As we passed through security and I was gathering up all of my items, Eliza caught sight of a plane out the big window and away she ran. The agents and other travelers were all smiles as Eliza exclaimed, "Look, Mommy, look!" and, "big plane!" She was full of delight.
When it was time to board, I took advantage of the early board. Down the ramp Eliza and Henry went, full of confidence. Both unaware of where they were going but up for the adventure none the less. We got seated and settled in and Eliza was sure to tell everyone that passed that this was her first time on a plane. She was seated at the window and she sat and stared out at all of the planes. What a new perspective for her, I thought to myself. As we taxied out to the runway, I couldn't help but notice that my own heart was racing and that I had tears in my eyes as I watched my beautiful child staring quietly out the window with wonder. I could only imagine how excited and curious she must be. As the engines revved up, she reached for my hand, never taking her eyes away from the window and as the plane left the ground and our home behind she finally turned to me with the biggest smile on her face and her thumb up in the air and I knew in that moment that her life had changed forever.