There is hardly a darker moment in a parent’s life than after the loss of a child. Tricia Belstra experienced that pain firsthand when her 25-year-old son Kyle took his own life earlier this month. As the grief-stricken mother boarded a Southwest flight to Indiana on her way to bury her precious child, she felt completely overwhelmed. But the kindness of a single stranger who happened to be working as a flight attendant on her plane gave her comfort and hope in the midst of one of the worst moments of her life.
“I was not looking or feeling good,” Tricia wrote in a Facebook post where she recounted the trip. “I sat in my seat between two strangers, holding a barf bag down low between my legs. One of the flight attendants looked at me and asked if I was okay.” Eventually, Tricia shared that she was flying to Indiana to bury her son. The flight attendants offered their condolences, as did other passengers.
As Tricia was stopped as she was leaving the plane by the young flight attended who had asked if she was okay. He simply handed her a plain airline napkin. Tricia continued into the airport and found a quiet spot out of the mess of travelers before she looked down to see what she had been given.
The napkin was covered in a handwritten note that Tricia believes was a message sent to her by God. “In 2004, my family lost my older brother. As traumatic as it still is for me, I can’t even pretend to truly know the pain you feel as a mother,” the note began. Tricia immediately began to cry, but continued to read on as her vision blurred from the tears.
The young man went on to share what he had observed and learned from his own mother’s grieving process. He encouraged her not to try to chase the grief away, but to seek out opportunities for joy instead. “This is your story, and you owe it to yourself and your son to make sure that you survive this,” he said.
The note continued on the other side of the napkin with some words of support and encouragement. “I won’t stop thinking about you anytime soon,” the flight attendant promised. “You’ll come out of this a stronger person, and I’ll be rooting for you the whole time.”
Tricia took to Facebook to share how blessed she was by the note. She didn’t even know the flight attendants name, but his willingness to reach out to her kept her from drowning in her grief. She shared how grateful she was for his kindness and how much it meant to her. Tricia’s story is a perfect example of how one person’s compassion can bring hope and comfort in times when it is needed most.