the worst flight ever (deployment, miscarriage, and selfish americans)

After my super fun afternoon in Seattle on March 10th – I had the worst flight of my life.   That’s the only way I know how to describe it.

What follows is a letter I was writing my husband from the plane.  For every flight I took during my trip, I wrote my husband letters (he’s currently deployed in Afghanistan).  I don’t ever really share our correspondence with others… but the original verbiage that spilled from my heart in realtime, on that flight, just captures everything so well I can’t do better on a re-write.

I’m hesitant to share something so personal in such a public way – but I really stand by what I felt at that time.  Of course looking back it feels overdramatic and petty.  But in the moment, I was upset and my feelings hurt.  I was mad.

And obviously, now knowing the destruction and sadness of the tsunami (that was literally happening as I was lamenting my own small problems) I feel foolish in some degrees.  But there is truth in my words and my experience – and so I’m going to share it with you.

WARNING:  adult content, miscarriage talk, cuss words, and who knows what else up ahead…

The worst flight ever

Matthew,

Hi Honey! I love you so much.  Well, I think the last letter I wrote you (earlier today) just sorta trailed off and I didn’t finish it.  The people sitting next to me on that flight were pretty chatty!  I was in between this nice older man from Canada and an 11yo girl traveling unaccompanied.  The lil’ girl was so sweet and fun, but lonely and REALLY ill-prepared for a six hour flight.  So I was letting her do my activity book with me and I didn’t get to concentrate on my letter to you.

So this flight is just killing me softly.  I’m so EXHAUSTED from the whole trip.  Physically, I’m in rough shape.  So I know my fuse is short. But across the aisle is a married couple.  She’s pregnant and they’re reading a baby name book together and being so cute.  And here I am. All alone… no husband, no book of baby names.  It’s just one of those moments that sucks.  I’m crying a little and I’m trying so hard not to.  All the lights are on and this plane is packed out, so I don’t want people to see me.

It’s not jealousy… I don’t want to be anyone but me, in any situation other than being married to you…. it’s just… sadness.  They look really happy and cute, and I’m just so ready for that to be us.

In front of me is an army guy in full cammies.  And he’s using his loud voice to announce how his brother is deploying soon.  I don’t know.  I just want him to pipe down, honestly.  People are all shaking his hand and stuff, which is great and nice to see.  Honestly.  I mean that.  But sometimes I want credit for my role.  Not here, on this plane full of strangers.  I just wish people took into context what’s weighing on my heart all the time.  I wish the people who knew me gave me some credit.  I don’t know what I mean or what I want.  At this point I’m just tired and worn out and ready for this deployment to be over and for you to just come home safely and let’s be DONE.   And I don’t want people to acknowledge what you (YOU personally, as well as y’all, the collective you) do and your role during deployment ANY less than they already do.  I guess I just wish we, the wives, got some credit too.  And that when we did it wasn’t some weird, patronizing, sympathy shit. But actual props, or respect or just a genuine tip of the hat.

Anyways, I have to pee real bad, I’m in the window seat and the people in the middle and aisle seat are snoozing (giant German tourists, fyi). SIGH.  I might brb…. (17:01 Hawaii time).

……

17:10 – I’m back and now I’m REALLY crying.  I don’t get what it is about me that just begs flight attendants to treat melike shit.  I’m nice, polite, I smile.  I can board and deplane super fast and efficiently.  I always say “please” and “thank you.”  I greet them when I first board the plane.  I do SO MUCH to help people around me (I help older people stow their carryons, I trade seats so families can sit together, etc. etc.) – so why is this the third Delta flight in a week I’ve cried on?

They’re doing bev service – with 2 carts going at a time, and I happen to be sitting in the middle of these two carts.  As in, one cart started in the back of the plane, the other at the front and their technique is to meet in the middle – where I am – trapped!

I have to pee though.

So I stand up to scope it out and the people blocking me in let me into the aisle.  As soon as I stand up the happy-baby-name-book-reading-preggo stands up too.  “Do you have to pee?” she asks me.  I told her I did.  Turns out she does too, she was just too afraid to test the flight attendants.

[Side note: our flight was 30+ minutes late leaving the gate, and the rigamarole of announcements, scolding, threats and just over-the-top power wielding by the Delta gate agents was OBSCENE.  They spent 30 minutes yelling at us about boarding procedures, and telling us over the intercom “if anyone questions the authority of a Delta gate agent or member of the flight crew at any time, you WILL be removed from the flight.”   So when they began beverage service during the flight, they made all these crazy announcements about how they can and will hurt you with the cart if your elbow is on the arm rest, and that every passenger needs to be respectful and aware of the location of the beverage cart at all times.  I mean, have you ever in your life heard of such over the top behavior?  No wonder it was a plane of stressed out, frazzled people. UGH.]

So the pregnant gal and I decide to try the cart coming from the back of the plane first.  We ask the attendant if there’s any chance we can get to the restroom.  She literally tells us, “no.”  And says that if we must go behind her, we’ll be stuck in the back of the plane until the end of the service.  WTF?  Is she for real?  So we turn around and go towards the cart from the front.

They had two carts going up there, but both carts are super close to the bathroom/flight attendant station area.  There’s totally a space they could fit the carts and we could walk by.  Easily.

So again, we ask if we can go up there.  Again, we’re told “NO.”

This is unfuckingbelievable, right?

So we just stand there.  In the middle of aisle.  My choices now include wetting myself standing up, or wetting myself sitting down.

Some random guy suggests, “jump over people’s heads, this is ridiculous!”  And some others join in about how things are going too far.  So the flight attendant tells me that if she let’s us through, we’ll be stuck in the middle of the plane until her bev service is over.

Really?

I ask her if this means that I will be unable to get a beverage and/or food on this flight.  She counters by asking me, “well, do you want me to postpone service for the entire plane just for you?”

At this point I’m just standing there with my jaw dropped.

Then she asks if I need to use the restroom. (What did she think I had to do?).   The way she asked it was so mommy asking a child, number one or number two?  It. Was. Mortifying.

But yes, I do have to go.  So I announced to the entire section of the plane sitting near me that I do indeed have to use the facilities.  I gotta go. Finally, the flight attendant sighs, and let’s me and Preggo through.  She moved the carts and it took twenty seconds to do so. Sheesh.

I get into the lavatory and just start crying.  Why did that have to be so hard?  Why was that necessary?  Its so outrageous how much power a flight attendant has.  I’m a PAYING customer.  I’ve paid more for this airfare than I’ll spend in groceries your entire deployment – and yet I’m terrified to cross a flight attendant because I’ll end up in zip-tie handcuffs, arrested.  They are WAY TOO POWERFUL.

So I finish peeing and come out of the lav to hear my new “friend” and the flight attendant chatting about my new friend’s July due date. Knife in heart, right?

…..

It’s already 18:17 and I’ve just been crying and trying to calm down.  Even more shit has gone down on this flight and I’m so upset by the way I’ve been treated on this flight, I can’t even write it all out right now or I’m going to flip out.  I’m just so appalled by how SELFISH and SHITTY so many people I’ve had to interact with have been.

…..

18:31… whew, okay.  A male flight attendant just brought me a snack that I didn’t have to pay for.  This whole drama erupted over them being out of a cheese and fruit tray.  They lady flight attendant was just a bitch to me.  I asked to purchase a cheese and fruit tray.  She informed me they were out of said tray.  She asked a near-by flight attendant if he had any more of said meal.  He acknowledged that he did not, they were out.

Then a different customer, a few rows up from me orders one.  And voila, he is served a cheese and fruit tray.  WTF?

So I asked again and the lady snapped at me.  She barked my head off about how she already told me “no” and what part of no don’t I understand?  OMG.  Get me out of here.

Meanwhile, they are running double time to bring this pregnant lady anything and everything.  Flight attendants are stopping mid-asile to fawn over her.  I’m trying so hard to fairly assess the situation: am I just reading more into than is really there?  Am I inflating what’s going on?  Honestly love, I don’t think I am.

The irony of just being trapped here in this seat is just stabbing me in the heart right now.

I saw a family friend last night and the topic of miscarriage came up.  The comment was made that getting pregnant before the due date of one’s miscarried pregnancy is ideal, and a really great way to help deal with the pain of passing the date of what could have been.  Especially when the person who has miscarried has friends with close due dates.  When the friends are laboring and having babies, at least the miscarriage survivor is now pregnant, and has that new source of joy to cope with the passing of the due date.   Apparently this can make one less sad.

After spending the whole weekend in Minneapolis with two girls due within a week of when we should have been, the gravity of such a concept is not lost of me.  I know they’ll be popping out baby girls while skinny-ole-me will be childlessly cleaning up the house for your homecoming.  Hopefully.

I supposed she [the family friend who made this comment], just like everyone else in America who is personally separated from this war, probably meant well – but didn’t put two and two together that this lovely suggestion isn’t an option for us.  Even if you came home on time from the deployment and I ovulate the second you walked in the door – we wouldn’t know we were pregnant by the time our old due date passed.  No way.

This is just so full circle to me.  People removed from this situation of this war do not really understand how it is.  I know the friend who made that comment did NOT mean it to make me feel bad.  But it is what it is.

You aren’t home.  I do this ALONE.

I’m dealing with this miscarriage alone.  I can’t even call you.  This paper that I’m writing this letter to you on, may reach your hands a month from today.  Maybe.  I just feel so alone. SO ALONE.

We’re having really bad turbulence right now ugh.  It’s hard to write.  I’m trying to eat the crackers the flight attendant gave me but my mouth hurts real bad and crunchy food is so hard to eat.  OK TOO HARD TO WRITE SHAKY PLANE.  THIS IS BAD. GTG. ILY.

Isn’t that so scary and dramatic how the letter just ends with my crazy handwriting, “this is bad.”  Hahaha. I’m so over the top.  Anyways, the turbulence was effing awful.  I snoozed for a very short while and my dreams were totally plane crash dreams.  Nightmares, I guess. We land in about 45 minutes I think.  It’s 21:17 now.  I keep checking in at exactly 17 after.  Cute… and creepy.  [our anniversary is the 17th]

Anyways, its 21:17 – we were supposed to land at 21:37, but they did an excellent job of making the entire boarding process as stressful and awful as possible so we’re running late.  Truth be told, I’m sure that’s what set the tone for this entire flight.  They boarded us so late, and the entire time we were all cowered around the gate they kept BARKING orders over the PA and making threats about how we must cooperate. So Gestapo.  Literally, I’m confident the six hour hell of this flight is the closest I’ve ever come to understanding incarceration.  Despite all my glorious fury, I’ve been strapped into this shitbox without ANY feasible exit.  I can’t even tell you the thoughts I entertained four hours ago when I was stuck in this seat mortified, upset, indignant.  The worst part is that we’re all PAYING to be treated like this.  I’m a paying fucking customer, and yet I’m a prisoner.

I mean, obviously order and safety are important.  But fuck these arrogant flight attendants.  I’m totes penning a strongly-worded letter to Delta concerning this matter.

The irony of all this is just so overwhelming.  The power of the flight attendants derives from 9/11 and the acts of Terrorists.  Which are also tied in to why you’re at war.  Which is the reason I’m here all alone and pissed off and sad.  This is the weirdest circle-of-life moment ever. And yet, no one is acknowledging any of this.  The flight attendants on this plane have NO idea I’m one of the people they “proudly support” (or whatever the industry-standard-nicety is); same goes for all of the people sitting by me – they have NO idea I’m the spouse of a deployed Marine.  How do I feel so connected to them, and yet they have NO idea that I exist?

…..

The fucking Captain is announcing we are 30 minutes out from landing.  It’s 21:27 now.  Ugh.  He’s apologizing for the bumpy ride.  He’s also saying that he knows there are lots of vets on board here flying to Hawaii to celebrate shore leave.  Huh?  Shore leave, what?  He is saying he appreciates all our vets do for America.  That’s nice, honestly.  I like that.  But now the guy in front of me, in full cammies (while traveling on vacay btw), is standing up and people are clapping for him.  He got out of boot camp a few months ago and he’s literally going on leave to party with his brother in Hawaii.  Whatever.  His role is different, and like I said… I’m glad some of America still has appreciation for a man in a service uniform.

But I’m just boiling over with irony and pain knowing that what I’m doing right NOW is serving my country too.   I’m dealing with the death of our baby all on my own, so that you can be at war.  I’m sacrificing too.  But I don’t get a uniform, an announcement, or a round of applause.  All I get is the causal forgetfulness that I can’t get knocked up in time before the dead baby was due.

….

HOLY SHIT.

We just got another announcement.  Japan had a really serious earthquake while we were flying and now Hawaii is under a tsunami warning starting at 3:00am.  Yikes.  I have NOTHING at home, I’ve been gone for two weeks!  Oh man.  And I have my really important neurology appointment at Tripler tomorrow.  Oh yikes.  I can’t even handle this right now.  I need water and food.  Hoepfully it’ll be nothing and this won’t be a big deal.

See!  I have to handle natural disasters on my own, why?  Because you’re deployed!

In closing, I’d like to leave you with TWO final notes of bitching: my ear and face hurt so effing bad.  I’m 100% miserable at this point.

Secondly, the child behind me has been kicking and throttling my chair for six hours.  I asked him nicely, twice, to stop and his irreverant mother figure informed that he wasn’t doing anything to me, and I should mind my own business.  Of course.

EVERY AMERICAN OUT FOR THEMSELVES, RIGHT?   And that’s who we sacrifice for.  Wow, real nice.

Hopefully both myself and this letter survive the flood, or at least this letter makes it to you.  I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!

xoxo,

Your Bitter, Broken, Bitching Lovebug

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14 responses

  1. I REALLY hope that if people read this they don’t misunderstand: I am TRULY happy for all of my pregnant friends, and I really love children. They are a blessing!

    Its just about balancing the sadness of my loss with the happiness of the gifts other people get. Its just two things co-existing. I can be happy for you, and sad for me. Please don’t think I’m some uber bitter, sad, terrible woman.

  2. Rosie I am so sorry that was just an awful experience, I used to love flying now I dread it. Sometimes I think people are more rude when you are polite because they seem to equate polite with doormat. People make such insensitive remarks about M/C’s I don’t really understand being that obtuse. You are such a great person and I hope life smooths out for you now that you are back in zen Hawaii.

    • I love being back in zen Hawaii, I feel so much better already. I love you Jamie, thanks for getting it and being such a compassionate person.

      And yes! Flying used to be so fun and glamorous. Now its been reduced to some kind of awful chore.

  3. Thank you, Rose, for sharing this very personal experience. It suprised me, it touched me and I feel a little more aware for having read it. I now know what I’m going to say the next time I have the akward moment of a complete stranger thanking me for my service at the airport or the gas station or the grocery store–something the young soldier in front of you might have said had he known the experience you were having, ” Thank you. I know I’m easily identifiable but remember there are others immediately surrounding us that make a very similar sacrifice”.

    BTW–I wish you would have called when you landed on Sunday. Our door is always open if you ever need or want anything–even if it’s just a roll of TP.

    • LeeAnn, I do THANK YOU for your service, and I love what a giving spirit you have. Not only do you risk your life for other people, but look at all you do for our lil furry friends too. You are so generous and you do way more than your part to make this world better and nicer and more full of love.

      I love that strangers thank you in public, even when its weird or awkward. Because at least they get it, at least there’s some level of appreciation. I also like when people smile at police officers, tip the server who brought them dinner, and shake the hand of the pharmacist who is giving them safe medications. There are so many jobs that have to come together to make us functional, and appreciation for all of them is so important. Sometimes not getting a name tag, or a uniform makes it impossible for people to see those of us who quietly play our role. And I think sometimes I just want to scream out, “we’re helping too!!!!”

      Maybe that’s silly? I’m sure people are rolling their eyes. But it’s my experience and its just my slice of American pie.

      And thank you so much for the offer, even if it is just TP! Luckily, my BFF who picked me up from the airport was so awesome and took me by the store as soon as we got back on base. I was able to stock up on water and doggie food and we were just fine. I’m going to post about that night soon, hehe.

      Let’s get together soon! Dog park or dinner or something, please? xoxo

  4. I can’t believe you were treated so awfully. You should have peed right on the flight attendant. What a freaking bitch. I can’t imagine having to see women who are due around the time you were, it must be very painful. I don’t think you sounded whiny at all, just like someone who was and is hurting. I hope you and Duggs are able to make a little one soon after he gets home, I know you will be a great Mommy.

    • its a weird balance… when i see someone due around the same time as me, i AM happy for them. and i’ve had to come to a place of accepting that we lost our pregnancy for a reason. its just good days and bad days though, ya know? sometimes it doesn’t fase me, and other times it makes me bummed.

      thanks for the sweet words about me being a mommy! i cannot wait till the duggs and i crank out some adorable lil childrens.

  5. That just sounds awful, Rose! I can’t believe anyone would treat you like that. But I am glad that you’re getting this out. You spend so much of your time giving to other people and enhancing other people’s happiness. It’s OK for you to be upset about what you’ve gone (and are going) through, despite what’s going on in the world. The “small” things that are going on in our own lives are constant reminders of our humanity. I’m just sorry that everything came together in one shitty 6 hour period. Boo.

    • thank you, that’s sweet of you to acknowledge that i give so much to make others happy. i sure try to.

      i agree that its okay to be upset and sad. i’m pretty sure people think i’m all giggles and rainbows and sunshine… and well, i pretty am, but i have REAL feelings too. so yeah, it felt good to expose that side of my feelings as well.

  6. Rose reading this honestly broke my heart. I dont think it was bitchy or selfish. it was honestly how you felt. I can not imagine being stuck next to the pregnant lady in the not so distant situation you just went through. I would have been a basket case of crying, resentment and rage from SEA all the way to HI.

    After seeing you with my crazy girls, I KNOW you will be the best mom ever. Your kid(s) will be the luckiest kid ever to have such a awesome, sensitive, fun mom in their life! And duggs is lucky to have you!

    • i love you rain!! i want to borrow/steal/have your girls as my own. seriously!

      i think being trapped in that seat and not having the option to walk away is what just made everything boil inside of me. i know sitting in the plane seat for six hours is a bummer no matter what… but that was the first and only time it was just like a prison!

      i’m glad you love me and get me. i’m glad you’re my friend!!

  7. i cried reading this. i know we’ve never met in real life, but it sucks when someone you know is an amazing person is going through something like this. i know i’m not a wife so my deployment experience was different, but i remember that feeling of isolated invisibility … every once in awhile i just wanted someone, anyone, to acknowledge that it was hard for me too. i’m glad you seem to be doing better now, and THANK YOU for everything YOU have sacrificed. ❤

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