"F? Is this F?" A man says. I open my eyes and look up to see him looking at his boarding pass. Reluctantly, I get up and make room for him as he wiggles his way in. Now the window seat filled. I'm still hopeful that the middle seat will remain vacant.
"Ladies and gentlemen we've now closed the door to the aircraft. Please power down and stow all portable electronic devices at this time."
Aright, not bad - no one in the middle! I can still get comfortable. I feel as though this man wants to say something to me, though. Why is this man trying to get my attention. I'm not trying to hear that. It's way passed my bed time and far too early for my 7am alarm to sing. I close my eyes, escaping from him and my nerves. Take off was smooth. I was kind of asleep for it.
"Excuse me. I have to use the washroom."
I wake up, with a frown, pull my shawl from over my head, and the sunshine sprays me in the eyes. He had lifted the window shade. Dammit. I get up so that he could wiggle out. I'm smiling, letting him know he's safe to go relieve himself. He returns, telling me that I look tired and offers me his window seat so I can lean on it. I decline, and let him know that I appreciate the offer and I like to get up and have the freedom to use the restroom often. He said okay, and reminded me of my fatigue on my face.
"I got three hours of sleep, so I'm determined to go to sleep."
"Oh, you've had two more than me." He says. I'm noticing his heavy accent. He spoke like the dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. He was no less that 55 years old, give or take. Grey hair. Grey mustache. His belly hung over his seat belt. When the flight attendants came around, he ordered a vodka orange juice and a coffee.
He then went on to tell me that he was in town for his nieces funeral. And that's when I woke up. He told me that she was an athlete, only 21. Her name is Alyssa Sialaris. That she would have been 22 next month, and that over a thousand people attended her funeral the day before, April 24th. He flew in from Toronto and stayed in San Jose with his family for the last 5 days. Within those 5 days he accumulated about 5 hours of sleep in total. Between arrangements, gatherings, and his sadness, he could not sleep.
I began to soften and suddenly, I was no longer hungry for sleep. Listening to this man, Christopher, share his story with me was the only thing that mattered. I asked how she died. He said the autopsy was unclear, and doctors are saying that she may have suffered from a heart attack...