I am the person you probably don't want to share a community table with or sit next to on an airplane if you want to be left alone. I get the hint when your earphones go in, but I will try to start a conversation because strangers are just friends I haven't met yet, right?
This morning with Diet Coke in hand I met my match in a woman named Sue. I chose a long table to work on some outstanding items before my flight and I sat next to a woman who was quick to introduce herself and compliment the lyrics of Rent on my wrist....obviously a great start to any conversation. She asked me where I was headed and what I do. When I asked the same question she stopped for a moment. I knew that look. It's the look where you decide what to disclose and I have found myself making it every time a person asks about where my mom is. A moment later she shared that she went to her doctor a couple weeks ago and after some tests found out she has terminal cancer. Pancreatic Cancer. My face winced and she simply asked who and then I made the same face she had moments earlier. From then on the conversation flowed between two people that a terrible disease eliminated barriers and so I asked why Paris.
Her response was simple and perfect, which was that her "clocks almost done ticking" and she spent her whole life investing in others so she wanted to end with dignity and wonderful memories in her mind. The power of that shook me to my core.
I believe deeply in signs present themselves to us when we need them most and today Sue was just the sign that I think I needed. I have been in a rough place emotionally with grief and some self-doubt, yet this wonderful woman who is being taken from the world far too early is living her life fully. She loved others deeply, she dedicated herself to her work and she wouldn't take it back, and in the end, she could say her time was well spent.
I will love myself more fiercely, I will believe in my ability and capabilities, and I will never let someone else have me question that again. When I am looking at the final minutes tick away on my clock, I don't want to say I skipped the show or left something great because of the issues of other. So now I need to board my plane, but when I come back to Atlanta I am coming back with a fire that I will never let anyone dim again. So thank you Sue.
The boy with a diet coke.