Michelle and Johnny walked into my life last night and possibly saved my life and definitely saved my sanity.
I haven't seen Michelle in years. I ran into her as I was quickly trying to pick up a few things at the store. I was headed someplace else. But, Michelle and I had so much to talk about.
In all the years I've known Carmen's cousin Johnny, he has never called me. He called me as I walked out of Starbucks. I was still trying to get to that someplace else. But, he wanted to ask me a few questions. So, I ducked into my car so we could chat.
For the most part--it was a typical Tuesday night in Judiland.
My mind was consumed by the usual things--work stuff and home stuff.
Carmen was at the house by the time I got home from work ---which is not usually the case. But, he had to be home to take care of a few things. He was stressed and cranky. He preferred to be home on his own and I was very happy to oblige.
So, Toni and I made a quick plan for the evening.
She wanted to go to the gym and I wanted to buy a gift and pick up a few large plastic containers at Big Lots. We figured we would stop for a quick dinner and then I wanted to head out to visit my father.
I dropped Toni off at the gym.
I had time on my hands to pick up the gift and to stop at Starbucks for a Chai Latte with an energy shot on my way to Big Lots
I made a quick stop at Marshall's to pick up the gift.
While there, I ran into Michelle--a friend from our days when we spent hours and hours at the dance studio with our daughters. By the time we finished talking, I was running a bit behind schedule. Still, I wanted my Chai Latte.
As I was running out of Starbucks, my phone rang and an unfamiliar male voice said "Judi, this is Johnny." Before I knew it, we were engrossed in a conversation and the time kept ticking away.
There was no time to get to Big Lots if I wanted to get back to the gym and pick up Toni on time.
Frustrated, hungry and running late, I raced to the gym, picked up Toni and we headed to a nearby place for dinner.
It was about 8:15 when we left the restaurant. Big Lots was right down the road. So, I figured we could make it there and I'd still have enough time to drop Toni off at home and get over to see my dad. But, as I was trying to get out of the restaurant parking lot, traffic was snarled. I could hear sirens in the distance. And, then, within moments--emergency vehicles and police cars raced by--lights flashing everywhere. I gave up trying to make the turn and opted to just drive home instead of trying to deal with a mess. As we were driving the short distance to our house, police cars and ambulances raced by us and I could hear helicopters flying overhead. Both Toni and I made jokes that perhaps they were somehow connected to Carmen's stressed-out mood.
As I made my way into the house for a quick bathroom break, my phone rang--it was my sister--frantic. She knew what my plans were for the evening and she was worried. Because the someplace else where I wanted to go.....was this complex.
No, it's not the gym that Toni goes to. But, many of her friends do. And, lots of our friends and neighbors belong as well. Because it's right down the road. By midnight last night, the phone lines in my little suburban hamlet--where things like this don't happen--were burning. Familiar names were being tossed around--everyone speculating who might have been there and what it was all about. Even as I sit here at this hour--looking out the window, I notice that many of my neighbors still have their TVs on.
I don't know if I overdosed on energy shots yesterday or if I'm just a little shell-shocked but I didn't sleep much.
But, that's okay.
I'll let you in on a little secret--for a long while--I was not looking forward to today.
That all changed last night.
Today is a gift.
God Bless the victims, their families and their friends and anyone who happened to be at the gym and the shopping center when this tragedy occurred.......