real life

Tricia was grieving the loss of her son. Then a stranger at the airport passed her this note.

Just over a week after his death, Tricia Belstra found herself on a Southwest Airlines flight, flying back to bury her 24-year-old son, Kyle.

Writing on Facebook, Belstra said she wasn’t “looking or feeling good”. She sat between two strangers, a vomit bag sitting low between her legs.

“One of the flight attendants looked at me and asked if I was okay. I asked for some water and another person brought it to me. Then this young man came by; I wish I would have gotten his name. He was getting drink requests. I asked for a diet coke and another glass of water. He leaned in and asked if I was okay. I told him I was flying back to bury my son. He said he was so sorry and brought me a can of water, a glass of ice and my diet coke.”

While the young woman next to her offered to pour some water due to Belstra’s shaking hands, the young man was drafting a note.

“As I am leaving the plane the young man who waited on me was standing on the landing and as I walked off the plane he stopped me and handed me a napkin and said he was sorry for my loss and this wasn’t much. I said thank you and walked out.”

Belstra wrote on Facebook the moment she began to read what was written in the napkin, she “cried”.

He wrote:

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. I did, however, watch my mother’s grieving process (a process that will never end). Firstly, being a mother is about giving birth to new life as a promise to the future. Your mission doesn’t end now — your son’s life is bigger than his death and always will be. My mum struggled desperately chasing a far away goal of somehow lessening the pain. As she has realised now, the pain hardly lessens. Don’t expend your energy trying to chase this. Instead, go all out finding opportunities to experience joy. Visit family, get closer to those you’ve lost touch with, travel. This is your story and you owe it to yourself and your son to make sure that you survive this. Do not pressure yourself.

This world is full of people who do truly care about you, even if it doesn’t feel that way.

I won’t stop thinking about you anytime soon, or how you’re doing or what you’re up to. You’ll come out of this a stronger person and I’ll be rooting for you the whole time.”

Belstra, in sharing the experience on Facebook page Love What Matters, hoped her message of thanks was able to get back to the young man who wrote the note.

“Please share this and I hope it gets back to him. Thank you so much for your kind words from a person that took the time to write this not even knowing me.”

There’s a GoFundMe page set up to raise funds for the funeral of Kyle Belstra, Tricia’s son. You can find it here.

For anyone going through grief…