In March of last year, 2018, I flew to Houston for a very happy trip. Our daughter, Andrea, was getting married in the fall and so this weekend in March was to be full of trying on wedding dresses and making wedding plans.
Of course, I had a layover in Dallas. There I sat in the terminal, catching up on social media and emails, when a fast movement caught my eye. I looked up to see a little bird flying among the ceiling beams. He would sit up there staring down at all the waiting passengers, though our area was people sparse at that time. He would observe for a minute, then fly down and land on the carpet, where a few passengers would toss him bites of bread or crackers. He was a cute little thing and broke the dull monotony of the usual airport terminal happenings.
I noticed a woman sitting not too far from me, within talking range, who was also enjoying the little bird. Our eyes met and we both smiled. We began talking about the bird. One thing led to another and we realized that we had much in common. The military…where we had lived…daughters in Texas…shared names. She introduced herself as Johnnie Latham and had soon moved closer to where I sat so we could talk even more.
The best and brightest thing we quickly knew about each other is that we were sisters in Christ. Believers understand this connection that is very evident, even when you meet a stranger. It’s the Holy Spirit, and the communion that two people have due to that indwelling is very real and very obvious.
Johnnie and I talked up a storm as we sat there. Gone were our phones as we talked and talked, enjoying every minute. Gone was the terminal drudgery of the airport as we crammed as much conversation as we could into the now short time we had before boarding the plane.
All too soon, it was time to board. We said our goodbyes and it was so nice to meet you as we got in line, with Johnnie several people behind me. Before long, I had taken my seat near the back of the plane. No one was in the seat beside me and it appeared, as passengers boarded, that my next-door seat would remain empty.
As I settled in and looked up, I saw Johnnie headed my way. We hadn’t compared seat numbers. Why would we? But closer and closer she came, looking at her boarding pass for her row and seat number. Then there she stood, confirming her assigned seat…and you guessed it! Her seat was the one beside me!!
We squealed and laughed and exclaimed our disbelief! Other passengers, I’m sure, were curious at this loud display of happiness over an airline seat!
“God wanted us to sit together!” Johnnie exclaimed as I fully agreed.
We just THOUGHT we had talked in the terminal. Now we were on full-speed motor-mouthed conversation! We spent the entire flight from Dallas to Houston sharing with each other as fast as we could. And I’m sure we shared with everyone around us because we had a hard time talking softly! We had stories to tell! We had examples of God’s goodness to talk about. We laughed. We praised God. We cried. The whole time was really sweet and amazing and so very special.
“Let’s take a selfie!” Johnnie said through her laughter.
So, she snapped this quick picture of the two of us.
And just like that, before we were ready, we landed in Houston. Our fellowship was over all too soon. I had never regretted finishing a flight like I did that one.
We hugged, said our goodbyes, friended each other on Facebook, and waved goodbye once more across the Houston terminal as we parted ways.
We kept in touch over Facebook through the next year. And one day earlier this year, her life changed. Johnnie was diagnosed with cancer. Now she became a fighter as she endured all the tests, the chemo, the hospital stays…struggles that I can’t fathom. Struggles for her and for her dear husband, daughters, and grandchildren.
But never turning her back on God. Never giving up hope, even knowing that her final healing might come in heaven instead of earth.
And so it seems that this will be the case. Her cancer has spread in her brain and there is nothing more to be done on earth. She is home now, on Hospice care.
Her husband, Jack, said this in a post I read: “She will win because she will be with our savior and she is looking forward to that day.”
Victory!! Johnnie and I shared victory stories on that plane…me about my dad and Johnnie about her sister. Now Johnnie will have the most powerful victory story of all!
What an impact this woman made on me in such a short time! I can only imagine the huge impact she’s had on her family and friends who have relished life with her for years.
And I was thinking about how we both thought we didn’t have enough time on that day to share and talk and laugh and cry. It wasn’t enough time.
But oh, we WILL have enough time one day!
We’ll have all of eternity to talk and share and laugh and worship God together. In person!!
But we won’t cry. No tears in heaven!
So, Johnnie, you hold my seat this time and I’ll join you in heaven one day.
I can hardly wait to hear you laugh on that day!