Monday, September 19, 2016

Snap Judgements

I was away last weekend, well actually the weekend before last. While there I had a heart stopping text, one where I burst into tears, my heart was so raw. The text read: "Terrible tragedy. T----- (her daughter) was found dead today. We're numb."

I felt sick. This friend and I had bonded over the difficulties with our daughters. My missing, estranged daughter and her unstable daughter. Each having mental health issues.

I follow my instincts in such matters now. I knew her extended family would gather around her and her husband for a while. So yesterday, after I left my sleepover in St. John's I went to a flower shop to get my friend B and her husband a living flower arrangement and planned to go directly to their home in the country.

So I'm in the flower shop and as luck would have it there's a woman of approximately my age ahead of me trying to put an arrangement together and taking a whole week of my precious time to do so.

"No, that's way too many carnations, take a couple out."

"You don't have enough baby's breath, no problem I'll wait while you go into the back room fridge."

"Oh, that's too much, no hang on, put more carnations in. No, only red, like I said."

"Hang on, it's out of balance. I want it to be perfect."

This went on for another five or ten minutes. At one point the clerk rolled her eyes at me as they discussed ribbons and cellophane for the arrangement.

The woman turned suddenly and looked at me and muttered an apology for holding me up.

With great will power, stifling my annoyance, I threw on a smile and said:

"You friend must be very precious and special."

Her eyes flooded with tears.

"I'm just off the plane from New York," she said, "I'm going to visit Caroline, my very best friend in the whole world, I haven't seen her in 10 years."

"Oh," I said, now fully engaged and curious, my impatience forgotten, "That's a very long time".

"Ah," she said, "She has advanced dementia now. Has had it for years. Her husband phoned me a few days ago and said she has very little time left. But I must see her. At her wedding I carried a bouquet of red carnations and baby's breath and I'm hoping that seeing this arrangement might trigger a memory of our friendship, you know?"

What was there to reply? I nodded, understanding completely. And as she left, I said:

"That's a beautiful tribute of remembrance for you both."

And then fussed in my turn for the little garden arrangement to bring to B.


  1. heart goes out to you, your friends and the woman and her friend...Life can be so jolting, messy and heartbreaking. If you were here, I'd hug you, put flowers in a vase for you and sit you down with a cup of tea...

  2. Good lord, I can't imagine your sorrow. I'm so sorry. If there is anything I can do, leave a message on my blog.
    I'm so sorry,

  3. That brought tears to my eyes, that was so touching. You remind me not to judge.

  4. A telling example of how knowing the full story behind someone's behaviour can completely change our reaction. All very sad.

  5. Wonderful story. Thanks so much - it tells a great deal.
    I've been absent for quite awhile. Missed you.

  6. This post made my scalp prickle. How wonderful that you said exactly the right thing. How easy it would have been to say some thoughtless, impatient thing. How much we need to take time to learn the "why" about the other person's actions. It's a good reminder for us. Condolences about your friend's daughter's death.

  7. What an interaction! Such instances teach us lessons.

  8. Really sad news, I can imagine how it felt as last year lost my daughter as well. Still not recovered but trying our best


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