A stranger gave me a gift

I sat at a coffee shop this morning enjoying the sun’s ray



and a rare moment before school and work. A cracking little spot on the corner of Crown street, a hive of activity, dogs and kids, and locals stopping to spend a few minutes catching up before they get on with their day.


I was introduced to a lovely chap from South Africa, who was there with his gorgeous looking Jack Russell, smallest of dogs with the biggest personalities. As we began to talk, he shared about wanting to move to Queensland, how he had an offer on a place but the people selling had been gazumped so they had to pull out. He spoke how he had lived in many places, a serial migrator, that as he was getting older it was becoming harder each time. He was looking at Brisbane this time and he didn’t want to wait another 10 years to do it.


The conversation moved to family and he was very candid with stories from his own. He had lost a number to suicide and most recently his father. He began to open up and share a little more about the circumstances of each one, 5 in total, and how he could not see clearly why they would have done it. They had beautiful family, friends, great jobs, no money worries, from what he could see no obvious reasons to make such choices.


The trauma and devastation left behind for the rest of the family to make sense of – to piece together the conversations, actions, the stories they had all been told.


I was so present to the sadness and the anger he was feeling. I have lost people close to me to suicide and to cancer and some to what I can only describe as just unhappiness.


The conversation has stayed with me all day. The choices we make and the impact it has on the people around us. The veneer with which we go through life showing up one way while inside we feel another.


He spoke of mental health and how he measures with a graph, you need to be in the top right he said, too far over to the left and you are behaving badly, and people can see, that’s when you need to be told he said. Too far below the line and you are in trouble and perhaps lost perspective, Top right that’s the spot.

Simple when you look at it like that.


For me just being in this little sunny spot and listening to a stranger tell his story to another stranger, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a community was a gift. Time and connection are so important now more than ever with what the world is going through. A chance encounter, a moment to be heard and seen and back to life again.


Angel Max

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