Every single person aboard a flight to Orlando stopped to offer comfort to a fellow passenger and complete stranger who was on her way to her grandson’s funeral.
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20, was one of the youngest victims of Orlando shooter Omar Mateen’s rampage through Pulse, a popular gay nightclub where he killed 49 people and injured 53 others.
The grandmother made her hard journey alone Tuesday and was pushed onto a JetBlue plane by flight attendants who gave her tissues and water and tried to make her as comfortable as possible under such tragic circumstances.
Airline employee Kelly Davis Karas wanted to do more, and in a compassionate, loving Facebook post, she described the woman’s flight and the unexpected outpouring of sentiment she received.
"She was understandably distraught, but met us with kindness and gentleness. And gratitude,” Karas wrote.
Then she had an idea. What if she and her co-worker passed around a piece of paper for passengers to sign good wishes to the grieving grandmother?
The two flight attendants decided they would do it and “as we took beverage orders, we whispered a heads-up about the plan as we went,” Karas said.
But then they hit a snag. Halfway through, her colleague called “Kel, I think you should start another paper from the front. Folks are writing PARAGRAPHS.”
So Karas did. And then a third paper was started in the middle of the plane. And finally, as time began to run out on the 75-minute flight, “We handed out pieces of paper to everyone still waiting,” she wrote.
“We didn’t have just a sheet of paper covered in names, which is what I had envisioned. Instead we had page after page after page of long messages offering condolences, peace, love and support.
“There were even a couple of cash donations, and more than a few tears,” Karas said.
After the plane touched down, Karas read a landing announcement just approved by the airline. “JetBlue stands with Orlando,” she said over the P.A.
Having secured the grandmother’s permission, she asked for a moment of silence in memory of Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo.
And then every passenger stopped to offer their sympathy to the grandmother.
“EVERY SINGLE PERSON STOPPED TO OFFER HER THEIR CONDOLENCES. 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,” Karas said.
“I am moved to tears yet again as I struggle to put our experience into words. In spite of a few hateful, broken human beings in this world who can all too easily legally get their hands on mass assault weapons – people ARE kind. People DO care,” she wrote.
“I will never forget today.”