Sunday, January 6, 2008

Memory: flight , Flight: memory

It was early April. I was on the plane coming back to Copenhagen from a night's stay in London. "It's sad to be traveling alone," I wrote in my journal. I bought £25 worth of chocolate with my BA vouchers and buried my nose in a book about Tuscany, pretending I was back in Italy, where I had just spent Easter.

The lady beside me had a patient, knowing smile and sparkling eyes. She talked to me. Before long, she, her husband and I were in animated conversation. I was unable to progress with my reading for the duration of that short flight.

They told me about how they met in 1968 at the Scandinavian Airlines office in downtown Copenhagen. By sheer coincidence, they caught the same shuttle bus to the airport that same day. He was a business traveller and she was a supervisor at the Sales & Reservations department of SAS. From that day on, their friendship blossomed. They married in January 1970, and never stopped travelling the world since. A well-travelled retired couple genuinely interested in the people they meet. They made me forget that I was alone.

I told them about my studies and plans for the coming months. They invited me to visit them at home before their move to Sweden. "Lovely, warm and funny" was how I described them in my journal. When we parted, it was as if we were old friends. I made a note for myself: "I'll keep in touch with them.

In the madness of that crazy European summer, I was unable to see them again, only sending a couple of emails to say hello and goodbye before I left Denmark.

Last week, I emailed them a quick holiday greeting. But nothing could have prepared me for Keith's reply:
With tearful eyes and a very bleeding heart I sadly have to tell you that I lost my precious Karin six weeks ago, eight weeks after she had been diagnosed with having pancreatic cancer that had spread to her liver.
I was stunned. How could that have happened to such a sweet and kind soul? I could not find words to comfort Keith. What do you say to someone who has lost his best friend and companion of nearly four decades?

Sobbing in front of the screen, I thought about how long I knew Karin. An hour? Two? A seemingly negligible amount of time. How much more did she touch the countless others who had known her for a lifetime?

Your memory will always be with me, Karin. Let your spirit fly, as you have always loved to do. I don't think I will ever have a seatmate so gentle as you.


  1. I'm sorry to hear that.

    Olala... The story is moving.

    You are very lucky to find such interesting people on board.

    From my experience, in short flights people normally don´t speak with others. Do they?

    I guess the spirit should flight like the baloons of the header.

  2. you're right, it's not common for strangers on the plane to talk. i don't normally initiate conversations. :)

  3. I've met Karin and Keith here in London few years back and they became my very dear friends too. It was a shock to loose our lovely Karin so suddenly. I used to call her princess. Her sparking eyes, warm and serene smile and her kindness always reminded (I don't know why) of a fairy tale princess full of goodness. We miss her immensely and I was looking forwards to visit them at their new home and take my baby daughter to enjoy their fun company too. Hat a sock. But now all my heart is with Keith, for whom I feel so much. He must be missing her terrible and I can not even start to comprehend his heart ache. The only comfort I can have thought of is how luck Keith is to have had the opportunity to share a good part of his life with such an enchanting lady, enjoying true love. For that alone he is an extremely luck man as, unfortunately, not everyone is blessed in this way in life. Leni

  4. so true. thanks for taking the time to share this, leni.