Row By Row

During the second leg of my trip from Sacramento to Hartford, I witnessed an

extraordinary display of willful and blatant connection the likes of which I have seldom


Towards the end of the flight, I watched the graceful movements of one of the flight

attendants. Judithann, a lovely 60-something woman with a radiant smile, bright eyes that

literally sparkled, crisp uniform, and a posture that would make an Army officer proud,

systematically went from row-to-row acknowledging and thanking every passenger for

flying with her and her crew mates.

From my seat towards the rear, I settled back to witness the individual reactions to the joy

Judithann, by way of a few caring words spoken, poured over their person.

As there was no warning of the impending grace, it was apparent those in the front of the

plane were taken aback by this unexpected gift. It took each person a moment to recognize

this old fashioned, pull up a chair on the front porch type of gesture. But, for those of us in

the back, having the advantage of seeing what was coming, we began acting like small

puppies eager for the same treat our litter mate just got.

As I waited for my moment in the sun, I found myself straining to come up with some way

to return what was about to be gifted to me. But when Judithann finally came to a stop in

front of me, I was rendered mute, and all I could do was delight in her offering and smile in

return. And, as she walked away, the connection Judithann created lingered on me like a

cool mist on a sultry August afternoon.

This wonderful airborne experience is yet another in a growing number of connection

stories I am packing into the satchel of my mind. Each is a tale of how the simplest of acts

influence and even change our lives; how smiles heal hurts, how words transform fears,

and how acts of grace pull us into the warm space of belonging when we are feeling the

frigid chill of life to the core of our being.

Dr. Drew Ramsey is an esteemed psychiatrist, and I ran across a quote from the good

doctor that speaks of both the problem we now face in regard to the epidemic of suicide

and also the solution we each hold in our hands:

“Someone you see is thinking about killing themselves. Your smile, your question, your love could save them. Trust me. They told me it did.” - Dr. Drew Ramsey

All that has me wondering; just how many lives did Judithann save today?

We are #HereForYou

David Woods Bartley

Mental Health Speaker / Trainer / Writer / Advocate

David BartleyCBHDA