This piece has been inside me waiting to be written for several weeks now.
No, not the time demon! That’s a future topic.
One of my customers died and it affected me.
She wasn’t the first and won’t be the last.
Some customers you get to know really well, some are simply familiar faces. I get close to those of you who are prepared to share something of yourselves with me. In some cases this happens gradually, bit by bit as we trade tidbits of information. Sometimes we get close fast, usually over something life changing. In a moment in time, I just happened to be the first person you felt you could talk about your mother’s death or your phone rang whilst you were here and got the news your daughter was pregnant. Sometimes it starts the other way. You catch me with a tear and ask if I’m ok…
Kim was ‘just’ a familiar face. A significant one though in that she had been shopping with me from when I first opened which is now 12 and half years ago. I’d been a mostly silent observer as she married and then had kids. In the beginning she usually bought things for herself later more for others. I noticed how vibrant she had become and came across her blog and new health business. I was looking forward to getting into some more in-depth conversations and then she started a new blog. One she started to document to share her journey with cancer. Everyone I knew who knew her was so shocked, you don’t have to know the person when you hear a young healthy mum gets such a diagnosis, we are all connected and we all feel the pain and unfairness of it. She wrote in a style that earned her much respect and admiration both for her words and her strength of character that shone through. I commented on her first or second posting; telling her to pop in for a hug next time she was in Foster and she said she would. Sadly I didn’t get to see Kim again.
I’ve been to at least three funerals and missed many I’d like to have been present for of people I’d met through the shop. One a number of years ago I unexpectedly found myself speaking to the gathering after the invitation had been offered and no one had moved. It was such an ugly awkward silence. Up to that point the eulogy had been about this elderly gent’s early life as if the second half of his life hadn’t been. I knew as good as nothing about this man’s family and personal life but we’d spoken at least weekly over many years so I felt I knew something of him and in that instant it seemed a good idea to stand up. I moved to the front of the church and I recall looking out and seeing very few faces I knew and feeling a bit silly, surely someone else should be speaking and not me. But there I was, so I took a deep breath, introduced myself and spoke of how we’d first met and what he’d brought to my life. I recollect people nodding and smiling as I described some of his actions and character and after I sat down, numerous people then chose to speak too. It was really lovely. Afterwards several people came up and introduced themselves to me and told me about their connection and what it had meant to them to hear what I’d said. One of his son’s was especially delighted in a perplexed kind of way as the man I described wasn’t the man he’d known. He and his wife who were from interstate came into the shop twice before they went home to talk some more.
So for the past few weeks I’ve been ruminating and remembering people and feeling exceptionally grateful for all the people I connect with past and present.