Do you have a lucky number? or an unlucky number for that matter? If so, What makes it so?
Do you believe in coincidence? Do you subscribe to the thinking that everything happens for a reason?
Do you believe that all things in the universe are connected or do you think something different? If so, are you willing to share?
Do you hold the belief that our lives are planned out for us or do you consider such ideas ludicrous?
I'm interested in hearing your thoughts and beliefs on this and I'd like to share with you a rather strange, coincidence of my own!
May 14th is an important date in my diary as it's the day my husband and I were married. This year; 2020, marks our 4th wedding anniversary. The tickets to see Andre Rieu in concert; a thoughtful gift from my husband to celebrate our special occasion, have been put on hold until September due to the pandemic. At least the concert is still going ahead and it gives us something to look forward to once this awful situation improves.
Nothing extraordinary about that, I know, however this date; 14th May holds significance for me for another reason and to explain why, I need to take you back a few years.
May 2013, my daughter, who our family fondly call Bean, was just 22. She and I were spending the afternoon shopping together, having spent the morning in the Oncology department of the local hospital. Bean had discovered a lump under her breast a few months earlier, which despite her tender age, her Doctor had become increasingly concerned about. A biopsy was taken and we were told she would receive the results in due course. Putting a brave face on as always, so not to further alarm my little girl - my insides were churning; I was worried sick.
As I'm sure other Mum's will verify, if there was ever an option to swap places with your child in such circumstances, we would choose it in a heart beat. Unfortunately, such an option doesn't exist. Thankfully, Bean has an amazing spirit, positive and resilient in equal measure, and as always, she was the one reassuring me that everything was going to be fine. It was a stressful time for sure, particularly that 'not knowing period' between the biopsy and the results - like the period between a death and the funeral that I call - 'the void.'
The biopsy over, we headed to the local shopping centre, trying hard to take our minds off the situation.
After enjoying cake & coffee, Bean and I started to the discount sports shop, as there was something Bean wanted to buy. Off she went in search of 'whatever', while I stood in the aisle looking at new pairs of training shoes. I was lost in thought, just minding my own business when I noticed a woman stood close by, she appeared to be just stood, staring directly at me. She didn't look like she worked in the shop and I certainly didn't recognise her as someone I knew, so I smiled and turned away, continuing about my business.
While I obviously cannot recall the conversation verbatim, I have a clear memory of much of what was said, and the conversation that followed went something like this;
"She's like you" she said, completely out of the blue.
To be fair, my mind was elsewhere, so I didn't exactly cotton on to what she was talking about.
"Who is", came my confused reply,
"Your daughter, she replied, 'she's just like you"
I looked around the shop but Bean was nowhere to be seen.
"She's over in the corner' she said, pointing across the shop, "You have every reason to be proud of her"
"Yes, thank you - I am" I smiled, placing the training shoe back on its shelf,
"Shes going to be fine you know" I was beginning to feel very uncomfortable .
Who was this woman?
"I'm sorry, have we met" I inquired, knowing full well we hadn't.
"Not exactly, she said - , I've been asked to give you a message' came her bizarre reply
"Oh no"; I backed away as I realised this woman was some kind of fortune teller,
"I'm really not interested, thank you". I walked away from the stranger, and spotting Bean a little further down the aisle, I joined her, rolling my eyes indignantly. I turned my attention to a clothing rail, picking up a jacket and holding it against my torso, as though checking the size.
"I know you are really worried about her" the bloody woman had only followed me and suddenly I was feeling annoyed.
I turned to the woman;"Look, I've told you once, I am not interested , I don't have any money to give you, now please go away and leave us alone," I was agitated and asserted my position.
"Forgive me, I'm sorry, I really didn't mean to upset you - I don't want anything from you, I have a message for you about your daughter"
At this point, I could feel myself burning up, "What?, What message, from whom exactly"? I was becoming uncharacteristically rude.
My head was buzzing; How did she know I was concerned about Bean? had she been in the hospital?, if she had, I hadn't seen her. Was she in the cafe earlier eve's dropping on our conversation? No, we had purposely not discussed the situation! I didn't know how or why, maybe she was picking up on some unconscious body language I was giving off, I wasn't sure, but she appeared to know something about us and was using it to inform her dialogue.
There was absolutely no way she could know if Bean was going to be okay - why would she say such a thing? no one knew, and the mere suggestion that she did know infuriated me.
She continued; "There's a woman, she says you know who she is! She's asked me to tell you that your daughter is going to be perfectly fine - you have nothing to worry about.
She is going to live a long, healthy and very happy life and shes going to be very successful.
I stared at the stranger - I had no clue why she would say such a thing.
"She talks of changes; a message from a Maggie and a John - do you know who Maggie is? or John"?
"No, I don't " I snapped.
Holding Beans hand, we started making our way towards the exit.
I wasn't telling the truth, of-course I knew a couple of Margaret's - only one Maggie, my landlady at the time was called Maggie. Like most people, I knew a couple of John's, who doesn't - but none that I was in contact with.
The woman followed on. She continued telling me that I wouldn't stay in the home I was in, I would move house within a few months, which was absolute rubbish. Moving house was not on the cards - I had only moved to the house a year earlier and had no plans to move, I was settled and happy.
"The number 7, its been an important number in your life in the past and it will bring you luck in the future" came the final part of her message.
A load of tosh, I thought to myself as I hurried away from her nonsense. The number 7 had never meant anything to me in the past, my lucky number, if you could call it that - was and has always been the number 4, based purely on the fact that I was born on the 4th and for no other reason.
"Let's go Bean", I said, and marching back towards the car, we left the woman standing. Once inside the car I was overcome with emotion and broke down in tears. The experience had added to an already stressful day and had just been too much. I was worried sick about my daughter and to have a complete stranger telling me I had nothing to worry about, had left me feeling confused and overwhelmed. As Bean and I chatted in the car, Beans phone rang; it was my ex husband. He asked how Bean was before reminding her that today would have been her Grandma's birthday!
His Mum, Edna had been a good friend to me, I had loved her dearly. We had gone into business together only months before she was diagnosed with terminal cancer; I was devastated. I gave up the business to nurse her, holding her hand, and crying as she argued with the devil, comforting her to the end; feeling her spirit leave her lifeless body. She had shared a promise on her death bed, that if she could make contact from the other side, she would, she would do her best to reach me, she would give me a sign so I would know it was her! I'd never really believed it, although secretly - well, who really knows!
I thought back to the strangers message - 'There's a woman, she says you know who she is!
Surely not, It couldn't be, could it?
I felt a sense of panic rising within me and immediately calmed myself by dismissing the idea out of hand. Back home, I put what the woman had said to the back of mind and focused on spending time with my daughter. It had rattled me for sure, but having slept on it, I concluded there was no truth in anything she had said, she was obviously a fraud chancing her luck, although I really couldn't explain what the point of it was.
I wasn't planning on moving, I only knew one Maggie - and not all that well, I had no clue who John was and the number 7 had meant nothing to me in the past, if it proved lucky in the future - all well and good.
However, within 3 months;
Bean had received her results and was given the all clear (huge relief all round).
My landlady Maggie, had emailed me in confidence to inform me that my then partner had told her he was unhappy in our relationship and could he please remove me from the tenancy and stay on in the house alone, Maggie wanted to know my thoughts on the matter.
This came as a complete shock to me, he had said nothing of the change of heart, but the humiliation of disclosing such information to someone neither of us really knew while at the same time saying nothing of it to me, ended our 8 year relationship and resulted in me leaving the home we shared.
A few days later, I'd inquired about a property advertised to let in the local paper, and found myself viewing a 2 bedroom cottage - the number of which, completely by chance - you guessed it - was 7!
Fast forward 12 months, and after an incredibly difficult year, my entire life had changed.
I'd returned to study as a mature student at University. I had met my soulmate; the man I was to marry, And following a very disturbing encounter with a stalker, I had written STAND; which led to an invitation by Philip Noyes of the NSPCC to present my idea to the Directors and Staff at their HQ in London, then Manchester and then Carlisle, - and the man who would decide whether a joint NSPCC/STAND project would go ahead or not? A man named John!
All Coincidence? I thought so.
Still, I have to admit; the strangeness of the encounter that day, and the coincidences that followed, had me entertaining the idea that maybe there was something more at play. Maybe there were things I had never noticed, or wasn't open to - was this something I should consider further? I got to thinking about significant dates and the number seven. A date that sprung to mind was Friday 13th - a date that appears to hold concerns for many. It hadn't figured so much in my life, but it was a date that had concerned my Mum when I was growing up, and for good reason I thought.
I remembered the time my Mum, my two younger sisters and I, were standing at a bus stop near our home in Luanshya, Zambia - we were heading into town - a town like none I had ever seen and nothing like the town we were used to back in Donny. We hadn't been in Africa very long at the time, just a few weeks if I remember rightly.
While we were waiting for the one bus that turned up occasionally, a green jeep from the Roan Antelope Copper Mine suddenly pulled to a stop on the opposite side of the road, and to my surprise, my Dad jumped out and came running over the road towards us.
The look on his face told me something was very wrong. He gently ushered my Mum a short distance in front of us girls, just far enough forward so we wouldn't hear what he was talking about. I observed intently - stretching my neck, trying desperately to 'ear-wig' to learn what was going on. It was bad news, I knew it. My Mum started to cry and my Dad wrapped his arms around, comforting her. Oh my God, what's happened, I puzzled; had we lost one of our grandparents? The image of my Grandad as we left him standing in the middle of the road, frantically waving goodbye with both hands, tears streaming down his cheeks - and me, waving back, knelt up in the backseat of the taxi that was taking us to the airport. I felt sick with dread!
No, that wasn't it.
Our parents sat us down and explained a short time later that on Friday, the Aeroplane carrying all of our worldly possessions had crashed and absolutely everything we owned was lost; all of our clothes (all we had were the clothes we were wearing), our toys, Mum and Dads wedding and family photo albums, absolutely everything was gone and we were here, in this foreign country, thousands of miles away from home with no means of replacing anything. This was bad, but it got even worse! The pilot and crew had all lost their lives in the crash.
From that day forward, I understood why Friday 13th was considered to be a bad day, and why it had given rise to my Mum's superstition.
Over the years, I had often thought about the people who had died on that plane, especially on Friday 13th. I'd think about the families that had lost their loved ones that day. Possessions can always be replaced, lives cannot - valuable lessons learned at an early age; gratitude and resilience. It hadn't been easy living in Zambia with no belongings to remind us of home, and it wasn't as though we could just go out shopping; there were very few shops in Luanshya back then. The copper mine where my Dad worked, loaned us pots and pans, and for everything else we made do. I often considered how fortunate our family had been, not to have been on that flight. We had made it safely just a few weeks prior, from Heathrow to Lusaka, and then from Lusaka to Luanshya in a rickety old plane, without issue. We were the the lucky ones.
Having shared the story with my husband, I decided to search on google to see if I could find any more information relating to the crash. Being young at the time, the details where pretty hazy now, but I knew it was a Dan Air flight, travelling from London to Lusaka.
I was stunned to discover that for all these years I had been wrong about the date; it wasn't Friday 13th after all.
This event happened in 1977, when I was 7 years old,
The real date - 14th May - Our anniversary
The plane; A Dan Air - Boeing 707
Which had crashed on the final leg of its journey at 07.17 am
Now what do you make of that?