I wasn’t so sleep-deprived that I didn’t know the red flashing text next to my flight listing was a bad sign. Schipol was the hub of a pile-up for travellers en route to Seattle; Wednesday’s early afternoon A340 was rescheduled for 9am the following day, which left my flight delayed by 3, then 4, then 6 hours.
I took a call from a freelance journalist, explaining the legion of corrections I provided for his article one by one; in spite of this, he gave me a gift.
“My wife tells me there are great massages available at the Schipol Airport. If your delay proves to be that long, perhaps you should find them.” Wiser words rarely spoken. I was less than 50 meters away from the “Back To Life” massage bar, which consisted of three massage therapists in loose black jersey, a set of chairs and two aqua-massage beds. I put my name on the list for a 20 minute chair massage.
My name was called by a woman who had just arrived at the stand. She was beautiful, and not simply conventionally so, she was in my favorite way – an open face, eye contact, engaged. I told her I was tired and of my chronic muscle problems, and she set me into the face cradle.
I couldn’t see, but I could hear a colleague asking her what she would like to drink (Rooibos tea) and talking to her about Nectar, what a wonderful name that would be for “the baby”. How he knew a male doctor from Indonesia named Honey. I asked if she was pregnant, and she said yes. It was her first child; and she was looking forward to the baby’s arrival.
In the time it took to say that, I wanted to take care of her.
I asked about how she was doing, if she knew if she was carrying a boy or girl, how was her energy level, naming… and then my unsolicited advice kicked in – always sleep when the baby sleeps, pace yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help – and I made a point of telling her the advice I avoided to my peril (the sleep, the sleep, the sleep).
We talked about many things, as if we were old friends.
At the end of the massage, I stood up and she told me of her surprising experience, that women who were otherwise strangers had all extended such kindness to her once they knew she was pregnant. (I had the same experience.)
For me, it is wanting to support and protect her, to support her in her courageous decision to become a mother. It is a commitment to the world we live in, and to its improvement. And it’s a particularly brave woman who takes that on, in the face of what our world is becoming. Mette’s baby (and Mette) are ours in connection; the daisy chain of mothers who rested under Mette’s hands as she took away the tensions of travel, of work, of personal matters, all giving her hope…or more accurately, giving her our hopes in return (jd, 11 feb)