Fort Lauderdale

January 7, 2017

 

I am sitting on the tarmac when the passenger behind me gets a phone call. He says something about a shooter in the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and tells the caller that he is safe. 

 

Given that I am eavesdropping, I only hear snippets of the one-sided conversation. With no knowledge of who the person is on the other end of the line or what they are saying, I figure the man behind me must be joking. Or perhaps he is talking about an incident that happened years ago or maybe it is a false alarm. I wish it was any of those things.

 

There’s a shooter at the airport. 

I am at the airport.

 

I just boarded my plane. Am I going to be okay? Can I go home?

 

Nick calls me and I know it is real. I almost do not want to answer his call because I am terrified of what he might say. “Are you okay?” “I think so.” 

 

I ask him to call my mom in case I do not have time to before taking off. He says he will let her know that I am okay and a few minutes later, he texts me saying to text her because she is shaken up.

 

I call her, starting to feel weak like the tears are coming and she answers my call already crying and gets out a, “Hi, are you okay?” 

 

I hate hearing my mother cry and I especially hate that her tears are out of concern for me. I tell her that my plane is preparing for departure and I will see her in a few hours. “I love you.” “I love you more.”

 

Flying is a whole ordeal for my anxiety (getting better with this), but here I am sitting on the tarmac praying to take flight. Begging to be in the sky, despite always wanting my feet planted firmly on the ground.

 

I am wrestling with the desire to be thousands of feet off the ground and wanting to stay on the ground where I can RUN. I have trouble giving up control and I feel sandwiched between two danger zones. What if something goes wrong on my flight? What if this isn’t an isolated incident? 

 

The pilot announces that we will be preparing for departure and the feelings of relief and dread heighten. I sit shaking my legs to relieve tension and wiping tears from my eyes. I jump at the sound of any announcements that the pilot or flight attendants make. 

 

We take off and I start feeling the veil of irrationality lift off of me. I can see again: I am safe. 

 

 

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of yesterday's horrific events.

My deepest condolences are with everyone who lost a loved one yesterday.

 

If you would like to be involved with gun violence prevention, please look into Moms Demand Action.

 

 

 

 

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JESSICA KASPARIAN © Copyright 2018. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.