People on a JetBlue flight comfort Orlando victim’s grieving grandmother
In the wake of the shootings in Orlando, many of us are scrambling for answers and feel pretty hopeless about the state of the world, but a recent Facebook post by a JetBlue flight attendant is reminding people all over the country that love is the most powerful tool we possess.
Kelly Davis Karas posted a photo of 20-year-old Orlando shooting victim Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo and wrote that she and her coworkers had the “sad privilege” of attending to his grandmother on a recent flight as she headed to Orlando to be with her family in the wake of this awful tragedy.
“Knowing she was making this hard journey alone, JetBlue employees made sure to be at her side every step of the way,” Karas explained. They stood by the woman’s wheelchair as she waited to board the flight, accompanied her onto the plane, brought her a blanket and pillow, provided water and a box of tissues, and tried to shower the woman with as much love and comfort as possible.
At some point, Karas got the idea to “pass around a piece of paper to everyone on board and invite them to sign it for this grieving grandmother.” Little did she know how the entire flight would respond to her kind gesture.
Karas said she started passing the paper around from the back of the plane, but halfway through, she and the other attendants knew they’d need more because “folks are writing PARAGRAPHS.” They started one more paper in the front, then another in the middle.
“Running out of time on our hour and fifteen minute flight, we handed out pieces of paper to everyone still waiting,” she explained. “When we gathered them together to present them to her, we didn’t have just a sheet of paper covered in names… Instead, we had page after page after page after page of long messages offering condolences, peace, love and support.”
After they presented the woman with the pages, Karas said she made a landing announcement including a special message emailed by the company: “JetBlue stands with Orlando.” She then got the grandmother’s permission to hold a moment of silence for her grandson, and then something even more beautiful happened.
“As we deplaned, EVERY SINGLE PERSON STOPPED TO OFFER HER THEIR CONDOLENCES,” recalled Karas. “Some just said they were sorry, some touched her hand, some hugged her, some cried with her. But every single person stopped to speak to her, and not a single person was impatient at the slower deplaning process.”
Since Karas posted her story, it’s been shared more than 12,000 times, and it’s provided a glimmer of hope in an otherwise dark and confusing time. As Karas wrote in the comments, “We hated that it was necessary but it was truly our honor to do it. No one should have to deal with what she’s dealing with.”
What happened in Orlando has left all of us feeling scared and vulnerable, but this incredible act of kindness is a reminder of where our strength really is: in loving, in helping, in lifting each other up. What this grandmother and her family are enduring is unspeakably awful, and hopefully in some small way, the compassion of the strangers on this plane will let the families of those lost and injured know that every single one of us is standing behind them.