My daughter insists on traveling with her favorite stuffed animals and this weekend’s trip to Texas was no exception. Her absolute favorite stuffy, Panda, joined us for a trip to the Dallas Farmer’s Market before we went to the airport to head home. She placed Panda in the outside pocket of her backpack so he could enjoy the view for our final moments in Texas, but as we made our way to the airport from the rental car terminal, she saw that Panda was gone.
She was hysterical. Devastated. Absolutely inconsolable.
As we were getting off the shuttle bus at the airport everyone was staring at this little girl who was still sobbing uncontrollably. I let them know she lost her favorite stuffed animal and they all nodded knowingly – that sympathetic nod that said both, “poor girl” and “poor mama.” Because in that moment I felt helpless. Either we miss the flight and I find Panda, or we make the flight, and my daughter learns a lesson in heartbreak.
Just as we were getting off the shuttle bus Jennifer, a Spirit Airlines flight attendant, said “Where did she lose it?” I told her before she quickly got my number and vowed to find Panda.
We made our way towards the gate while I texted with Jennifer who was determined to find Panda. She told me she had lost her favorite stuffed animal around the same age and still remembered the feeling.
Jennifer enlisted the help of Samir from Avis Car Rental and the two of them searched the rental car garage until Panda was found. With 20 minutes till take off, Samir drove Jennifer to the airport for a very happy reunion.
Jennifer did not have to help me. Samir did not have to help Jennifer. I am still in awe and admiration of their kindness. After a week of such darkness, I am thankful for bright lights in this world.