Monday Moments: Strange Encounters

It’s very strange when the life you never had flashes before your eyes. ~ Terri Minsky

There was a gorgeous autumn full moon in the sky a few nights ago. Beautiful, for sure, but I think it brought with it a wee bit of craziness. Twice during the past weekend, I’ve had a strange encounter. Not just odd, or unusual. Strange.

My husband and I go out a fair amount. Sometimes, we’ll encounter people we know, though not as often as we expect. Occasionally, we’ll run into folks we haven’t seen in a long time, and we’ll spend a bit of time catching up. Then there are the weird moments, where something wacky happens, and we suspect the universe is trying to tell us something.

I had two such encounters this past weekend.

The first happened while we were out eating dinner at a local restaurant. Most of the time we were eating, I had the sensation of someone watching me. You know the feeling, when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you just *know* someone is looking at you, and not just looking, but watching, staring. Weird. I did my best subtle glance around, but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. A few other couples and groups around the restaurant, but no one caught my eye. Then my husband left the table for several minutes. We were close to finishing up, so I nibbled the last few bites of food on my plate. A shadow fell across the table, and when I looked up, an older woman, round-faced and obviously very nervous, had silently slipped up to our table next to me. “Excuse me,” she said politely, “but was your mother’s name Barbara?” It wasn’t. “Oh,” she said, deflating, her shoulders sinking. “You just look exactly like my old friend Barbara. She passed away last year.” OK… now I was a little weirded out. It seems Barbara had a grown daughter and, although this woman had not seen the daughter in years, she assumed I was that daughter, because I evidently looked exactly like her friend, Barbara. “Are you sure?” she asked again. Umm…. yeah, I’m pretty sure I know my mother’s name. But I nicely told her no, that I hadn’t grown up around here, but that I was very sorry she had lost her friend. “Oh, that’s okay,” she said, making her way back to the table. “You sure could be her twin.” She sat back down with her husband and the couple they were with, but she never really joined back in to their conversation before we left. It appeared she was lost in her own world, perhaps remembering her times with her friend.

The second was my doing. We had stopped for a quick bite while running some errands, and the place we ate at had a little gift shop connected to it. Kitschy stuff, trinkets and such. The kind of stuff you put on kitchen windowsills. I looked at several items, more to kill some extra time before heading back into the errands rather than any real interest in the stuff for sale. But as I turned around a shelf full of discounted Halloween items, I caught the back of a woman going around a corner of a table several rows ahead of me. And in an instant, the flash of a glance, I saw my mother. From the back, the woman had the exact same physique and height, the same hairstyle and color, and I would swear the same clothing that I had once seen on my mother. In just that moment, I was back on a shopping excursion with my mom, wanting to catch up with her to show her some “find” I had run across. The feeling was so strong, so real, that my breath caught, my heart stuttered, and my eyes teared up. My mom passed away 16 years ago, and in all that time, I’ve seen a few people who kind of, sort of looked similar. But never someone my brain thought was her. Yet all the same sentiments and feelings of being with her came rushing back in less than a second. And I missed her. The woman stopped and looked at an item, showing it to the person she was with. And from the front, she looked nothing like my mother.

The moment passed, but the feelings stuck. I thought back to the woman who had talked to me, thinking of the far-away look on her face after she had returned to her table. Convinced that same look was now on mine. Maybe it was just the full moon. Or maybe late October stirs up more than cardboard spirits. Or perhaps it was just a weird turn of moments, where two strange encounters happened close together.

What about you — any strange encounters lately?

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