A year of gratitude – Week 23 – An unexpected meeting

This week’s gratitude reflection is about an unexpected meeting I had about seven years ago.

My then boyfriend (now husband) and I were at a country market located in the beautiful hills area of Perth. The town’s people were known to be a little alternative in their lifestyles, organic farming and produce was the norm and locally made herbal tea was available in abundance. It was a vibrant town and the markets were flowing with people. It was winter but the sun was out and the air was fresh.

My boyfriend and I were relatively new in our relationship, so I was buzzing from the new love energy we had as well as from the excitement of seeing so many great things around me. We walked hand in hand through the market, and I had not one care in the world.

As we were nearing the end of our tour of the markets, we thought it would be a good time to stop for coffee, so we meandered toward a nice looking cafe that didn’t look too busy. As we walked to the door, we came face to face with my boyfriend’s mother and her best friend.

I could feel him tense up a little and let out an involuntary sigh, one of those sighs that say ‘oh boy, this is a nuisance. How do we get out of here?’. His mum pretended not to notice and warmly welcomed us. We had a quick chat and then a hug goodbye. I suppose she didn’t want to intrude on our time too long, and maybe she picked up her son’s vibe, so she and her friend left to go and explore the markets.

I knew that their relationship was a little shaky, more cordial than anything. His reaction to seeing his mum unexpectedly always stuck with me because I felt I would hate for someone to feel that way about me if they randomly bumped into me one day.

A few years later, his mum passed away from cancer. They had repaired their relationship before then, they were lucky to have the time to do so. But when I think back to our unexpected encounter in the markets that day, I very much wish that we had made more of an effort to spend some time together. To sit down and have a cuppa. To not feel annoyed at seeing a loved one and to give them an extra hug.

This post is a little bittersweet. I am grateful that we bumped into my partner’s mum that day because it taught me to be careful about how I treat others, especially those who I might not particularly like very much. There are a lot of socially dense people out there who wouldn’t notice an eye roll, a cringe, a sigh. But I think most people would pick up on this kind of thing. I know I would, and I know she did that day.

And now, looking back, I wish I had done more myself, or that we’d done more as a couple, to build a better relationship with her. What is this life for if not to grow, repair, rebuild, in the little time we have in it?

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