Friday, August 08, 2008

Everybody has a story

My usual Thursday afternoon bus ride had a slight twist yesterday. I often pass the time sleeping, reading, or listening to the radio, but once in a while, the person I am sitting next to exchanges a few words and the conversation doesn't end, and so continues on in one form or another until we arrive. Yesterday, I was sitting next to a lovely Francophone woman who was going home to Repentigny after visiting her grown daughter in Outaouais. We spoke on and off the whole bus ride, mostly about the weather, about whether she'd catch her connecting bus or whether we'd get to Berri on time, about where she lived, about her niece and my niece. In short, lots of small talk.
At one point, our conversation turned to the importance of a positive outlook. How some people manage to get really upset about small things and how we really rarely experience catastrophe's in this part of the world, and so really, we ought to stay relatively calm when we're faced with the small "not good" situations that we're sometimes faced with.
Until this point, the main reason we kept speaking was not because the conversation was particularly interesting, but to pass the time (for her, I suspect) and to get some French practice, for me. A few minutes later, she told me two things: One, her husband had died 7 years ago from prostate cancer that had quickly spread to other parts of his body, and two, she had lived with epilepsy until the age of 42. She'd had three brain surgeries, here was the scar on her head, and she showed me a minor mark which I'd been looking straight at most of the bus ride without noticing anything was there, and was now fully cured and needed no more medication. Her husband had taken such good care of her for close to 20 years, that when he'd become sick, it was as simple as being her turn to take care of him.
The rest of the way home I thought about my own health. My biggest issue is my food restrictions, and honestly, everyday I realize how tiny something like that is. I have never known catastrophe, but this woman had faced difficulties I only imagine. It was very eye-opening.


Big Brother said...

Funny how some people will be overwhelmed by the smallest things and others go through really awful experiences without batting an eyelash. The lady is an example for us all.

xup said...

The title of this post says it all. It's so true -- everybody DOES have a story. You can work with people for years and one day you spend an evening with them or go for a drink and you find out the most fascinating things -- things you never suspected about the person in the cubicle next to yours.

noha said...

BB, she definitely is. I was so impressed the rest of the way home.
XUP, that's just it, and it's crazy. Some people's stories precede the actual person in my life, and for some people, I've known them for ages, like you say, and then in one conversation, everything changes and suddenly their life or "story" is opened to me.

VioletSky said...

Sometimes we can handle the bigger calamaties much better than we ever would imagine and then something 'minor' happens and it pushes us over the edge.

Anonymous said...

I see this every day on my work. It's good to have encounters like the one you had on the bus to help keep perspective.

noha said...

violetsky, it's so true. I guess for me, I just try to remember that most of what I've been through, if not all of it, is relatively minor, so I have no reason to freak out... I think we're almost more likely to remember that we need to stay calm when something huge happens, just because we're more aware of our behaviour in general.
COTW, I don't run into this naturally, so I'm glad when I do.