There’s a hole in my life now because a woman I met just once and talked to but a hand full of times online has died. I didn’t even know her “real” name. We hadn’t seen or spoken in more than a decade, but still I feel that hole.
She called herself Zen, and she wrote wonderfully dark and edgy stories. I asked and she granted permission to use one of those stories in an anthology I was putting together which, unfortunately never got off the ground. I think she liked that I thought so much of her writing.
I saw her in person sometime after that. She was a big girl then, sporting an alarming Mohawk and tons of tattoos, looking like someone you’d avoid on the street. She threw her arms around me for a hug, as if we’d been friends forever. I’ll never forget that. Or her.
When you’re a shy person in a room full of strangers, having one of those strangers wrap you in her welcoming tatooed arms is soul brightening. You’ve suddenly gone from a stranger in a strange land to family who has come home.
There are lessons here, beyond the obvious don’t judge a book by its cover. Lessons such as life is short and very unexpected. Stay in touch. Hug people. Compliment strangers. Even more importantly, compliment friends. Share yourself.
I think it’s rather wonderous how brief encounters can sometimes stay with you for a lifetime. Very worth the holes they leave.