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Bye Bye

“Bye Bye” said the sweet blonde boy. He waved each time. “Bye Bye” he said more insistently.

As we stood in line to board the airplane for a second time this morning, the friendly little guy wanted everyone to return his farewell. When someone in line filing past his seat did not answer him, he would approach them more closely and say it again, “Bye Bye.” Wave Wave. How did they resist him? He even pointed up to the man in front of me when he did not answer. The man finally returned the boy’s gesture and waved good-bye.

It was only about 10:00 a.m. but my nerves were already beginning to fray. An unplanned overnight stay in Chicago, multiple delays on the morning flight, and lines of storms plummeting Nashville. Would I ever get home?

But this little boy’s joyful interaction with adults who otherwise were not taking much interest in connecting with one another was a welcome diversion. His mother looked like she’d rather be about anywhere else. And probably would. But the cheerful address continued, “Bye Bye.” Wave wave. Grin grin.

When I stepped closer I could see more clues that this little fellow was probably in the neighborhood of two years old. I asked him. He demurred, burying his head in his mom’s shoulder, but she confirmed my guess.

“Hey little guy,” I said. “I hope it is bye-bye, because I don’t want to get off that plane again until it lands safely in Nashville.” He wasn’t really too interested in my travel plans. He just wanted me to respond to his new-found trick: if you say “Bye Bye” to people, they usually answer you back.

I learned a few things from this little boy this morning. I should be as insistent as he was on civility more often. No one that I saw was rude to him, but instead he brought out smiles, kind gestures and mild happiness in those he greeted as they walked through his slice of the airport waiting area.

A few moments later, I “paid it forward” as I walked down the jet way. Instead of stepping over the pictures someone had obviously dropped as the passengers just ahead of me did, I stopped. I picked up the pictures which were ultrasounds. I started asking as I got on board and walked up the aisle, “Are you Vickie? Are you Vickie?” When I found her half way back the plane, she was surprised that I knew her name. I told her that the flight attendant up front had her pictures.

Secondly, it was funny that the little boy was basically meeting people and saying good-bye at the same time. This is the case in our grown-up lives, too, whether we realize it or not. We greet and say good bye all at once each time we are with those we love dearly and know well. And we can do the same for complete stranger, too. We are often saying hello and goodbye in the same breath, with the same gestures.

In Nashville Vickie and I crossed paths again. “Thanks for taking time to pick up my pictures. I’m so glad to have them back.” Grin Grin. He was right: most of the time making a human connection is better than not. Thanks, little guy, wherever you are for that important reminder.

Bye bye.