4 years ago today, I entered IAH airport with a one-way ticket to Zurich. Wow – never saw it coming – and to this day, not entirely sure how I followed through.
The last person I saw was Carol. I laugh thinking about it. With her big TSA security badge, she made every other TSA screener think I was some VIP on a VIM (Very Important Mission.) She whizzed my two HUGE carry ons through the scanners and if the security folks started to ask a question, she gave them this look like “If you get in my way, you are going to regret it. I know what I’m doing and obviously, you have not been briefed on who this is…”
And when I landed at Charles de Gualle in Paris for my layover, I wished I had Carol with me as I went through security. These two carry ons would make any security guard take a second and third look. One contained every piece of electronic equipment I could carry – laps tops, external hard drives, cameras, phones, chargers, headphones. It just begged to be subject to extra scanning. And the other, well it took Leann and I an entire day to pack it – as it carried every piece of jewelry I owned (checked luggage was not to be trusted). Tell me that’s not a red flag for an individual crossing three country borders.
Carol gave me a long hug, we cried and laughed as she shoved me through the gate. I got on that flight not having a clue what was in store for me. I didn’t know if I would survive a week in what I thought was sure to be sub-arctic conditions and away from every thing and every one I ever knew and loved. My entire personal life was upside down and I was doing all of this for a job (or so I thought).
I didn’t know how the horses and cats would live back in Texas without me. I didn’t know how I would keep the hay cut or the pool clean. And what would become of the house? In Switzerland, I didn’t know where I would live or how I would find friends. How fast could I learn the language? How would it feel to be truly alone? Who would care if my flight landed or didn’t?
And the coming months were the most difficult of my life. I got to a low point where I didn’t know who I was. Everything was dark to me. Mentally and physically I was a wreck. Only my conversations with God got me out of bed each day. Here I was, surrounded by so much beauty, but I couldn’t pick my head up high enough to see an Alp. If something didn’t change soon, I didn’t know how much more I could handle.
Thankfully, God had a plan – and one by one, He sent Polly and Sarah and Rachel to me. And that was the turning point. That’s when I realized how much life I still had.
And how much love I still had.
And how loved I still was.
I began to understand my choices…
the choice to be afraid, or the choice to be brave
the choice to live in the past, or the choice to live in the moment
the choice to worry, or the choice to have faith
the choice to focus on me, or the choice to focus on others
the choice to make my own decisions, or the choice to let God lead the way
And surprisingly, it was pretty simple after that. I remember it very clearly. It was in those months where I realized, and came to know, the woman I was and the woman I could be. I found my confidence, my sanity and my grace.
I don’t reflect on those moments four years ago very often, but today, January 29th, I thought I should.
And thinking about the manners my mother taught me, I thought I should say thank you to all of you for walking with me on this journey. For all those that sent me off, for those that stayed in touch, for those that reached out, for those that sent those fantastic care packages of salsa and Whataburger ketchup, for those that have embraced me as though we’ve known each other all of our lives and have shown me all that life can be…….
I am humbled and forever in your debt. It’s a great milestone today and I wanted to share it with you and remind you that – when you think you can’t get up, I will be there to offer my hand.