A few days ago I walked through terminal number 3 in Phoenix, remembering when it was under construction and I was a newly hired Supervisor for America West Airlines. I was the youngest hire back then at only twenty one years old. In that newly constructed building, with its fresh carpet and funky gate space I was noticed for my customer service skills and ability to navigate chaotic and stressful situations with strength and finesse. Twenty eight years later I walked towards the escalator headed for the airport shuttle bus aware that the path of my life has taken unexpected and surprising turns that began in terminal 3 where I met Mark Johnson one day as I pulled the jet bridge up to the door of Boeing 737 that he opened, greeting me with his signature smile and sparkling blue eyes.
I rode the bus to terminal 2 where the plane carrying my friend Shelly was scheduled to arrive. I waited, anxiously watching for the first sign of her as I scanned the people behind the security area. I recognized her quickly, her step bouncing just a bit and her hair swaying back and forth. We exchanged a long hug and eased quickly back into our friendship as a fourteen year tradition of shopping in Phoenix was underway again.
Over the next three days we talked and shopped and told stories and encouraged one another.
Most often I was aware than in my transient life, so many states, so many houses, so many “friends”, Shelly is a constant, a friend that had stood the test of time. She knows me and together we hold a unique space in one another’s lives, a friendship that really isn’t honored by the small word “best” because it’s more than that…Shelly is my kid’s pediatrician, she always will be, no matter where their medical records are stored, she’s the one who I trust to care for them. She will always be Dr. Shelly, the one who was there the day I delivered Libby ,who arrived in crises and was carried to the NICU in Shelly’s arms.
August has been a strange month of convergence and acceptance for me.
I drove my daughter Allison to her new job in Phoenix at Grand Canyon University.
I packed up my son and put him on a plane to Phoenix to start his sophomore year of college at Grand Canyon University.
I returned to Phoenix to meet my friend to continue a tradition we started 14 years ago when we both lived in San Antonio and flew to my “hometown” to shop at my favorite bargain store, “The Last Chance”.
Alongside all of that I saw my parents, my brother and his family, connected with longtime friends in Phoenix and navigated a myriad of emotions at the surprising turn of events that brought my children back to the Valley of the Sun.
Last night I flew back to Michigan and today dear friends from Texas flew in for the weekend, the same friends who housed us when we were homeless four years ago in San Antonio.
My heart is so very full.
I am a woman who cares deeply.
I haven’t always been aware of the depth of my heart. I spent a lot of years resisting the depth of my heart, hoping to avoid the aches that I knew were down there in the depths.
The past two decades of my life have changed me and have surfaced what I had worked to bury.
I have come to accept that my life is a wild ride of passionate, unexpected, glorious, surprising and sacred moments. Some of which come with disappointment and pain others coming with incredible joy and love…all of which touch my heart and leave me caring deeply.
I am not a licensed counselor or degreed author.
I am licensed to care and compelled by the goodness of God to listen to stories and tell my own.
Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12). Married for 26 years, she is mother to five kids. After nearly a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is. Founder of Seized by Hope Ministries, she writes here.