The plane had three seats in a row. Judah took the window. I took the middle. I was prepared to warn the person who would take the empty seat, the person I already felt sorry for, "he's usually good on flights, so hopefully you won't be too bothered."
When he sat down, I was leaned over helping Judah with his seat belt. I saw Jude look around me with a teasing smile. Then Jude hid while smiling and peaking, begging the man to play.
I turned and saw the man sitting next to me; instant relief. Completely normal with abnormally warm energy. Judah instantly LOVED him.
When I read a book, Judah insisted that I "show him" the funny parts. Judah would laugh hysterically (I mean, the turkey had his shoe on his HEAD) and the man would laugh at Judah laughing. The nice man seemed to enjoy Judah more than humor him (I DO have mommy goggles, but I still think I'm fairly perceptive). They interacted for an hour. Judah laughed at all of his jokes wholeheartedly. It was the happiest flight I've ever seen.
But, looking back there were some warning signs.
The nice man sitting next to me was holding a small book of inspirational quotes. It was called something like "God's Little Instructional Manual for Men." I noticed that he would get full eyes and open the book and read a few random pages. Close the book and then look at Judah, who was waiting patiently for him to finish so that he could show him his hysterical book or extremely cool car.
I remember thinking that he must be a minister. Or something "holy." His energy was so pure.
He asked if I had been to LA before. I told him that LA was my home.
He said it was his first time. He had always wanted to go to California. To see the Redwoods meeting the coast. I told him he should see them. One of the most beautiful sights.
He told me he wouldn't on this trip.
"My daughter committed suicide. I am going for the vigil and to identify the body...and to search for answers."
Before I could respond, he continued, "I am just so grateful that I sat next to you and your son today. I haven't smiled for days. I didn't know I could. Your son lit my heart. You will never know what he has given me."
He showed me pictures of his daughter, the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. Exactly my age.
I'll always remember that flight and the nicest man I've ever met. Judah's good friend.