I don't believe in chance meetings.
On a plane ride to Nashville back in December, I met a man named Ken Lyons. It was a Southwest Airlines flight, so you have to pick your own seat. As soon as I walked onto the plane, he made eye contact with me and I decided to take the middle seat next to him. As we took off, we started to make small talk. He was on his way back from a quick trip out to Portland from his home in Omaha, Nebraska to attend an awards ceremony for his son’s work. It was clear that he was super proud of him. He asked me what I was traveling to Nashville for, and I told him about my friend Erika – and how we were meeting in Nashville to celebrate surviving the crazy year we both had. Erika successfully battled breast cancer in 2018. This led to Ken and I talking about the unique friendship that she and I have. I told him about how we were inseparable when she lived in Oregon, how she has supported me through all of the brain surgeries I’ve had, and all the incredible food she’s fed me over the years. I also told him about how every Friday, I’d pick Erika up and we’d go grocery shopping together, then out to Vietnamese food for lunch. We laughed about how our dogs would have sleepovers. I teared up as I told him about how she stood by me through the dark days following my divorce.
We talked about hydrocephalus, brain injury, and rehabilitation therapies. We talked about our faith, family, and motivation for moving forward. We discussed mental training and stoic philosophy, and traded book recommendations. It was a rapid-fire conversation that lasted the entire trip. It turns out that Ken and I have a lot in common. He holds a similar faith, enjoys learning and studying new things, and is also battling a neurological condition. We traded information and ideas – and I encouraged him to be a moving target. To keep on walking. To stay in the arena. I told him that my life is a living testimony to the fact that you can navigate the ups and downs in life – with a little bit of stubbornness, and a whole lot of grace.
When the plane touched down, Ken turned to me and he said, “Amy. You are like a human charging station. I just plugged in and got charged up, and now we part ways.” We got off the plane, and I gave him a hug. I’ll never forget the day our paths intersected. Although he called me a charging station, he didn’t know that he renewed my spirit as well. A perfect stranger had changed my life by simply having a conversation.
In the months since that flight, we have exchanged a few emails back and forth. On Christmas Day, I received an email from Ken that read “Merry Christmas, Beautiful Spirit.” These sweet words brought tears to my eyes. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to plug in and charge up.
- for Ken... stay strong, my sweet friend.
My name is Amy but friends and family call me Am. I am a lover of dogs, good whiskey, and strength training. I'm a brain surgery survivor (x23), a fiddle player, a construction designer, and a boxing enthusiast. I have six real siblings, and five fake brothers. I love deeply, and consider my close friends to be family.