Tricia Belstra was on a Southwest Airlines flight on the way to bury her recently deceased son. Not feeling well and wedged between two strangers on the flight, Belstra asked for a diet coke and a water when one of the flight attendants passed through the cabin during drink service.
“I sat in my seat between two strangers holding a barf bag down low between my legs,” Belstra posted onto Facebook.
“Then this young man came by; I wish I would have gotten his name."
"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.”
That wasn’t the last Belstra had seen of the flight attendant, who handed the grieving mother a napkin as she disembarked the plane at the end of the flight.
“I said thank you and walked out,” she said, not knowing what she held in her hand.
It was a heartfelt letter expressing understanding, support and a lot of love to Belstra, a complete stranger.
“In 2004, my family lost my older brother," the note said. "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).
“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.”
Since the story was posted on Facebook on Friday, there have been more than 27,000 likes and more than 600 comments, including others who have shared their own heartbreak after losing a loved one.
“In Feb 2015, my son died in an accident,” shared Kimberly Lewis Orr. “The next day we flew to where he was living. I cried the entire trip. The airline personnel were so kind and loving!
“They let the pilot know that we were on the plane and what we were going through. The pilot instructed everyone on the aircraft to stay in their seats when we landed so that my husband and I could quickly exit the aircraft.
“Prayers for peace and comfort for you and your family. It DOES get better.”