While you’re here… I care.

This evening I went out to the shop down the road to get some bread and maybe fruit. We had two ends of stale bread left and I thought they might have some nice bread for tomorrow’s sandwiches. That and I like to check in case there are any tasty things being reduced. (I’m one of those people who don’t really think the date on a package of apples matters – after all, the tree doesn’t put a date on them.)

I was in no way prepared for what I found. (trigger warning: non-descriptive death mention)

I parked the car and first noticed the flower stand had moved from its usual place outside the shop. There were flowers on the ground. Lots of them. They had notes written on them. ‘Lovely lady, you will be missed.’ There was a candle in a lantern, lit. What was this?

I recognised a local man getting onto his bike (I don’t know his name, but I do know his face, and that he rides to the shop often.) -It was her. The lady who used to work here. She was the one in the accident yesterday.

The whole main road was closed yesterday. I couldn’t comprehend: here the other day. gone now.

She wasn’t a celebrity, not a superstar of any sort. She was simple, consistent, worked at the till and did her job well – but slowly, and everyone knew her. She checked every item, checked the date and picture on my student card every time (yes, as uni staff I get a student card. It is a very cool perk of my job.) even though she saw it at least five times a week, and she always said something personal to you: That’s a nice cardi you’ve got on. You going to be having something nice for supper I see. You’ll soon be taller than your mum.

and she knew everyone’s name. The whole village.

She rode her bike. She didn’t have a car; didn’t drive. She was one year younger than me (I know this because of her checking my birthdate on my student card and telling me so !) and riding her bike…

I can’t quite understand.

The fragility of life. We live like super heroes, invincible, until we’re not.

I saw the flowers and I wrote in the book for her mother and daughter, and I went away thinking and thinking and feeling – feeling grateful to be here.

There was a great outpouring for her, and I couldn’t help thinking that I’d like to give flowers while people are still here.

One of my students today said – oh, I’m dying faster now, and I have to take these pills. (she has some illness and was on a course of medicine) and I said in a jolly way – we’re all dying, I just hope it happens slowly. Not for at least 50 years – maybe even more.

but you never do know.

It was my birthday yesterday and I was celebrating being alive. I think I’ll keep that going. I’ve decided that can be my unbirthday wish, to not make the mistake of waiting to let people know… just while you’re here. So if I tell you I care, tell you that you have changed my life for the better, hopefully that’s ok because so many of you have.


  1. Cog.Dog

    Happy birth/life day. And thanks for sharing this small story reminder of what we have right here. There’s also a fragility of connections of service people we may see regularly like this lady, and often are barely acknowledged. Even if we don’t know their names, a smile, small conversation go a long way.

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      Thanks Alan. Fortunately everyone knew Gina’s name. She was a bit like Mr Hooper or Gordon on Sesame Street: a normal person who was absolutely essential to the community – not because she was the fastest, most efficient worker, but because of her humanity. You are completely right that all too often we don’t see people when they are right in front of us. To be seen as a person and appreciated that way is so valuable.

  2. Kathy Lasecki

    Yes, life is fragile! The adage live each day as if it’s your last is true! I hope I treat each person as I’d like to be treated so when I am no more, good thoughts will be carried forward!

  3. Algot Runeman

    Thank you for this post.

    Enjoy every day to the full extent possible.
    That’s not hedonism. It is a life statement.

    It will not mean we are exempt from negative events.
    It might mean we endure those events with grace instead of bitterness.

    Tomorrow is a hope. We only actually can live today.
    I am glad to be here “with” you in this moment.

    Our sharing is at a distance, enforced by circumstance.
    It does not make that interaction less, for that distance.

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