LUGGAGE Lady

Contemplations about Life, Love, & the Pursuit of Meaningful Existence…

Archive for the category “Military”

A Part of My Soul Remains…

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You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” ~Miriam Adeney

🌏✈🌏

I sincerely apologize for my lengthy absence. Although I’m home from my recent journey throughout Turkey, Israel, Egypt, and Greece, a part of my soul remains. Each faltering attempt to convey my experience has left my heart further fragmented. How do I adequately describe human suffrage at depths I’ve never known — and never will? I gravitate toward positivity, but doing so temps me to replace reality with photo-ops like the one featured. Expertly orchestrated. Perfectly contrived. We so wanted to aid our Egyptian guide’s cause. A man who sat knee-to-knee with us atop well-worn, ornate prayer rugs inside Cairo’s Alabaster Mosque and elicited tears by sharing ardent family traditions, religious misconceptions, political frustrations, and dreams he’d likely never achieve (but maybe his son would one day). This 14-hour excursion with our charismatic Egyptian friend touched us on so many levels, compelling us to paint Cairo as a grand destination — and yet…

Just six days before our guide snapped this photo, he’d lost his close friend — a fellow guide who was inadvertently killed by his country’s own military when they mistook him and the Mexican tour group he was leading for ISIS while they picnicked in the Bahariya Oasis. Hence the reason the pyramids were virtually empty. Tourism had already plummeted post-2011 revolution and was just beginning to make a teensy resurgence. Unfortunately, the Russian airliner bombing truncated an already meager recovery.

And that’s just one story…

How can I forget the haunting despair of staring into the eyes of malnourished, shoeless orphaned refugee children in Istanbul? Or strolling the sweltering, dusty, potholed, garbage-filled streets of Alexandria, strewn with butchered animal carcasses bleeding right next to pedestrian traffic? Or passing heavily armed police men and women along the impoverished, graffitied, sand-coated, apocalyptic-looking back roads of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv?

I promised myself then and there that I would never complain about “first world problems” again. But, back in my comfortable surroundings, how swiftly I’ve rejoined the choir, eagerly adding my own petty verses. Why?? I’ve never been oppressed, persecuted, or brainwashed by my government. I’ve never stressed over where my next morsel of food or sip of clean water might come from. I’ve never had to speculate where I might sleep, much less wonder if I’d live to see another day in the manner countless big-hearted, hard-working, beautiful souls around our globe do every single day.

Bidding an emotional farewell to our Egyptian friend, we confessed how inconsequential we felt. How we wished we could do more to help. “Your presence here means everything,” he said, embracing us like lifelong friends.

Sadly, since our September trip, ISIS and its evil predecessors appear to be growing more emboldened daily, stealing innocent lives, destroying families, raping, pillaging and ravishing livelihoods in the region we visited and beyond. With each bloody news alert, I think of the hospitable, gregarious, respectful people we encountered, from Cairo schoolboys flocking around me to take selfies, to the young women smiling curiously from behind colorful hijabs, to the gentleman rescuing us in Alexandria when our animated map-pointing failed to secure three taxi drivers in a row — and a plethora of generous souls in between.

An open heart is humanity’s greatest resource, mutual compassion bridging two very different worlds.

Suffice to say, a part of my soul remains….

 

 

 

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My ‘Just in Case’ Letter

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💔Every day someone kisses a loved one goodbye and doesn’t make it home💔

If only I were a perfect wife…I wouldn’t dare part ways with even an ounce of hostility lingering. I’d honor, cherish, and pour my heart out like there was no tomorrow — never, ever taking love for granted. So, when I read Marie Tillman’s heartrending book, The Letter (and finished mopping my tear-soaked face), the little writer in me had an aha moment: What if I penned my own letter and tucked it inside a crisp white envelope, ensuring my husband never doubted for a single second just how much he meant? You know — just in case…

💞

My Dearest MTD,

When we first met, I knew my soul had arrived home at long last. But never in my wildest dreams could I have written the story I had the privilege of living. You loved with such constancy and patience. Even when I struggled to find my greater purpose you endured my frustrations in your upbeat stride. You were always my first choice. Although we both carted our own bit of baggage into the fray, I loved you as I had never loved before.

From renovating homes to flying airplanes, sailing, and your extraordinary culinary talents — I can’t recall much of anything you couldn’t do. Oh, how I adored watching you prepare your magical meals. You’d go to such lengths to procure the precise ingredients, coming home with an armload of your favorite sunflowers and a huge grin because you’d found the ideal wine to pair with dinner. I’d light the candles and queue Linda Ronstadt or James Taylor on your meticulously installed and perfectly tweaked sound system. We’d talk and laugh — and talk some more.

And all those adventures you so tediously planned??

Jumping out of airplanes, scuba-diving, sailing around the world, hiking Machu Picchu, kayaking the open seas, zip-lining, bike riding to the top of Delphi — seriously?! Sure, I’d traveled a tad before you, but these activities were spectator sports, things I’d nestle on the couch and read about. You nudged me outside my comfort zone and produced brilliant travel videos so I had proof! Without you, I’d have remained as flat as a paper doll.

‘Without you’ was the one journey I never wanted to embark upon.

I’m not exactly sure where I am, but you know from our countless late-night “what’s-it-all-mean” conversations that I’ll always be with you. Just promise you won’t curl your pillow over your ears and assume for even a solitary moment that the squawking crow interrupting your slumber is me!

For an orphan boy, you certainly had a knack for family and gave so much to mine. My relatives and friends adored you. Your enthusiasm for life’s smallest pleasures was contagious. I’ve never been so delightfully infected by anything in my life. I beg you — don’t ever stop spreading your boundless spirit!

You’ll find love again. And when this happens, don’t look back. View this next phase as you would a new country — different, yes, but an exploration to savor.

You were my best friend. Every moment shared with you was a gift, but if you don’t get out there and keep living to the fullest, I’ll be forced to send in the crows — a murder of them! 😉

Eternally Yours,

Nani Kat

💞

(*photo: Saint-Malo, France)

Thank You Military Personnel

I was working a flight over Labor Day Weekend when one of our country’s finest came aboard. As flight attendants, we had three clues:

(1) His camouflage backpack.

(2) His humble attitude (he sat in the very last row).

(3) A fellow passenger who’d spoken with him in the gate area and couldn’t wait to tell us about our esteemed cargo, making certain we were aware he hadn’t been home from Afghanistan since Christmas!

He slept the duration of the flight, but upon landing our lead attendant announced that we had military personnel on board and could everyone kindly give him the courtesy of deplaning first? I’d heard about this respectful gesture being extended in various venues around our beautiful country, but until I stood at the front of that airplane and listened to the thunderous applause, while this brave defender of our freedoms marched up the aisle, high-fiving every passenger sitting on the aisle (with others reaching out as far as their limbs would allow — just to make contact), I had never experienced the magnitude of appreciation from my fellow citizens.

I am boundlessly grateful for the military men and women who keep us safe each and every day — and for those who take the time to acknowledge their service and sacrifice.

Heroes by Default

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Our vacation to the New England Coastline had been planned for months, our lodging prepaid and non-refundable. So it was that we boarded our flight from San Francisco to Manchester, New Hampshire on September 16, 2001.

That’s right, precisely five days after the world (as my generation knew it) changed irrevocably. Airplanes as suicide bombs? Hundred-story buildings disintegrating like those in an animated film? Fighter jets scrambling to do the unimaginable? My husband and I (pilot/flight attendant, respectively) boarded a scarcely populated aircraft and headed east.

The first breakfast held a table of twelve. As we all chattered about the basics: where are you visiting from…what do you do? The room grew quiet, all gazes drifting toward us. The rest of the guests were locals who had canceled trips to stay within driving distance of home. We’d not only traversed the continent in a “weapon,” we were part of the group that had been slaughtered before everyone else. Many rose from their chairs to hug us, offering words of praise with tears in their eyes.

We were heroes, by default, for the day…

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