The world between worlds was a recurring theme during our time away and boy did our trip end on that sacred note.
On the flight home, with just under 4 hours of Pacific Ocean to go before we landed in Sydney, an announcement was made asking if there was a doctor on board. Two doctors and two nurses emerged out of their seats to attend to a lady not feeling well.
It was the time of night where everyone had been sleeping for many hours and were starting to wake up. 4 hours to Sydney, as anyone who's been on a long-haul trip to Australia knows, is the home stretch. A last movie, breakfast and the trip is over. Only our trip together as a very different kind of flight was just beginning.
The medical situation was happening just a few rows ahead of us near the exit. I could see the nurse's head furiously moving up and down as she started to do CPR. The lights were on by now, everyone was awake and completely quiet. Video screens were off or paused. The entire energy of the plane felt completely different to anything I've felt before on a plane.
Anywhere I looked, heads were bowed down, tears were in eyes, you could just feel everyone praying for that lady, for her dear husband next to her, and for that amazing, strong nurse who kept going and going.
10 min, 20 min, over half an hour, she kept pumping that lady's heart. She was relieved at times by the other nurse and doctors, but it is she who seemed most in charge. They were all incredible. The flight attendants were so kind and compassionate, and managed to walk that fine line so gracefully between being professional yet still openly showing their regular human selves, their emotions clearly being felt, supporting the husband, and putting the needs of this woman first by not leaving her side.
The pilot decided to re-route to Noumea where a medical team came on board. More CPR but this beautiful lady had moved on. It was with such tenderness that they informed her husband, "we can't re-start her heart, we are so sorry."
There we all sat in the plane on the Tarmac in Noumea, in utter silence, shared sadness and united as we saw her husband sitting there in shock and grief as they so carefully tended to his wife preparing her for this very different, most unexpected last leg home.
I saw the nurse sitting up the back with her boyfriend, clearly distraught. I felt compelled to hug her, and to let her know how it felt to see her do what she did, that she did such an amazing thing. I could see she wished she could have done more but for everyone looking at her that morning, she was an absolute angel hero warrior. She did everything humanly possible to try to keep that lady here, she wouldn't give up, it was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen.
This world between worlds. It is present when someone is born. It is present when someone passes. It is present in deep states of meditation or spiritual connectedness. It was present on that plane for those last hours back to Sydney. It makes us remember who we really are, it puts things in perspective.
Our deepest condolences go out to the husband and family, and prayers to you great lady for your journey home to the non-physical world. To the entire medical team, especially the main nurse, I am in awe of what you did and do every day. To the United crew, what a beautiful thing to see you treat this situation with such kindness, respect and reverence. To our fellow passengers, this is one of those things that unite us (on board United ironically) and it was touching to see everyone's humanity, patience and solidarity in this situation.
Rest in peace.