My seatmate on the CTA this evening was a gentleman from Sierra Leone. We got to talking and laughing about the horribly lopsided score of the NZ All Blacks vs. US Eagles match on Saturday. He asked me how much I paid for tickets and I felt a little evasive. I answered by saying how much the face-value of the tickets were, then said I’d paid a bit more than that. He then added up the cost of parking and the food and guessed how much the afternoon cost me.
I grew horribly uncomfortable and a bit embarrassed by the extravagance. He realized that and said “But lady, some times things are once-in-a-life-time events, and worth every penny. Five years ago I insisted that my wife and I take our kids home to Sierra Leone to meet my family there. It was very costly and we debated whether we should. I finally told her to stop worrying and let’s just do it. Now, my children are older and might remember more and appreciate the trip more… but look at the world. With ebola like it is and the travel restrictions, and how many are sick and getting sick… we will likely never go again. So many in my family are dying, we’ll likely never see them again. It was good and opportune that we went when we did. I wanted my mama and papa to know my children. And they got to meet them. Some of my family is in the village… we can’t even phone and find out if they are still alive.”
It brought tears to my eyes. He reached out and held my hand for a moment, then dropped it and wiped tears from his.