When Pleasanton Realtor Jennifer Haus got off her Delta flight in Los Angeles at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13, she found 23 urgent messages on her cellphone, and with good reason.
In the hours she was on the plane after leaving Paris that morning at 9 a.m. (Paris time), the city had been attacked by terrorists in multiple locations, leaving at least 130 dead and many more injured. Just the night before, she had spent her last evening in Paris with friends, enjoying the final hours of her European trip at a sidewalk cafe not far from where the attacks occurred.
She described her trip as "fantastic," seeing the Eiffel Tower, walking the cobblestone streets and having cappuccinos every afternoon sitting outside at the local cafes. "So beautiful and such memories made," she said.
She had texted her three children and others that her Lufthansa flight the next day might be canceled because of a workers' strike so she might not be back home as scheduled. That was the last anyone heard from her because Lufthansa found an alternate flight Friday morning and rushed her to the Delta gate. Although the Delta flight followed a circuitous route through London and then Los Angeles before getting her to San Francisco and home to Pleasanton, she had no time to send that message to anyone before leaving Paris.
Even though Jennifer was tempted to take advantage of Lufthansa's offer to spend another day or two in Paris, her daughter Raegan, a freshman at Amador Valley High, was performing in a play Saturday and she wanted to be there. "Thank God for that play and that I chose to be there for it got us home safely on Friday evening just hours after the tragic mess in Paris," she said.
The cellphone texts and countless Facebook messages on the L.A. tarmac provided the first word of the Paris attacks. There was no announcement on the plane, probably intentional so that passengers would not become afraid. She quickly replied to her three children, her mother, others in the family and friends with her heart filled with gratitude that she had caught that Delta flight and not waited for a direct red-eye flight to San Francisco later Friday night or decided to stay another day. If she had, Jennifer said, she most likely would have been there for days because the French government closed the airport and borders as soon as the attacks began.
Jennifer Haus' comments follow:
"We had been very close to where some of the attacks took place, sitting outside and enjoying the beautiful city. In the wake of tragedies like the Paris attacks, it's natural to feel somewhat hopeless about the tumultuous state of the world. What happened in Paris was shocking and heartbreaking. Far too many innocent lives were taken by a vicious group of cowardly individuals and a beautiful city adored by people around the world was shaken to its core. What good can come of any of this?
"As I woke up Saturday morning back in California with rain coming down most of the day, and then saw my daughter's play Saturday evening and then laughed with friends Sunday evening, these were the things that really mattered and I was so thankful I had chosen to catch the longer flight home.
"Sure, there would be other plays, but this was her first high school performance. I hugged her tighter that night and smiled bigger when I saw the sunshine and rain and enjoyed friends more and remembered what really matters. Go into this week and holiday season allowing this tragedy to affect you in a positive way in your families and with your friends and take the time to really remember what is important and never take our precious relationships and people in our lives for granted. In the end, that is all that really matters."
Jennifer Haus has been in real estate for the last 11 years and is team leader at Keller-Williams Tri-Valley Realty. Besides Raegan, she has another daughter Savannah, a freshman at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, and a son Christian, a sophomore at San Diego State University.