I was supposed to work on the plane. I have a backlog that is backlogged. He is wearing a black denim shirt, with short hair—he smiles as I sit down in 23 C.
We make small talk for as long as I can handle small talk.
“What happened to your head?” I ask.
He has butterfly stitches across his forehead and up his scalp.
“An accident at work”, he replies.
We get to talking more.
“I’ve had one of the darkest weeks. I’ve really been looking at my wounds, and my wife’s wounds.”
I listen. I read him some poems about wounds.
He shares with me that he gets angry. He looks at me after an hour and says quietly, “I did this to my head. I smashed it against a table.”
I listen. I feel his body—I get the waves of intuition and step into what is coming up.
“Can I do something intimate with you?” I ask.
“I want to put one of my hands on your heart, and one hand on your head and just hold you for a minute.”
He gets soft and quiet, “Yes”.
He closes his eyes. The man serving coffees wonders what we are doing.
I put my right hand gently on his forehead and my left on his heart.
I just hold him like that—rubbing his heart every 30 seconds.
He breathes and exhales and tightens and let’s go.
We talk more. He opens completely.
“Can we do something else?” I ask.
“It’s a forgiveness exercise. You’re going to close your eyes, put your hand on your heart. I’m going to put one of my hands on your heart and one back on your head. I want you to speak into your heart. You’re going to repeat what I say, after me and at the end you’re going to speak whatever shows up into your heart.”
“Okay”, he says.
“I forgive myself for getting angry”, I say quietly.
“I forgive myself for getting angry,” he repeats.
“I forgive myself for not knowing how to communicate with my wife”.
“I forgive myself for not knowing how to communicate with my wife”, he repeats.
“I forgive myself for hurting my body”.
He pauses, I see his eyes tighten. He holds it in.
“I forgive myself for not knowing how to deal with my anger”, I say softly.
“I forgive myself for not knowing how to deal with my anger”, he repeats.
“I am a good man. A good father. A good husband. A good business owner.”
He repeats me.
“I am scared. I am safe. I trust myself to feel my emotions.”
He repeats it.
Then I get quiet. He trembles.
He speaks some words of forgiveness quietly—I don’t need to hear them. They are for his heart.
My arms are getting sore. But I continue to hold him until he is quiet for a prolonged amount of time.
“Thank you”, he says quietly.
As the plane lands he says, “As men, we are finally feeling safe enough to do the work.”
My whole heart cries in gratitude for our connection.
If you wrote me an email tonight, you’ll have to wait—I was busy loving a human flying through space in an emergency exit aisle I may never see again.