It's not uncommon to have a short encounter with someone totally change your day. We've all experienced rude drivers or shoppers who leave us more than a little irritated. But what's really amazing is how a brief conversation with a stranger can leave you with a new perspective on life.
That's what happened last weekend when I was out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse, celebrating a friend's birthday. As we waited to be seated, a woman across the restaurant caught our eye.
She was simply stunning. It wasn't the fact that she was wearing beautiful clothes or had good hair; it was the aura about her. She wasn't doing anything to draw attention to herself, yet in a busy restaurant, she stood out from everyone else.
As we walked out of the restaurant after dinner, the same woman was standing with a group outside. Again, she just stood out. A friend of mine decided that a compliment was in order. So, she introduced herself to her and explained how we had been commenting on how stunning she looked that evening.
To our surprise, the woman shared that she had just beaten cancer.
"On this side of cancer," she said, "everything in life is wonderful."
A second chance on life: That was her story.
Her comment has stayed with me all week. So often we get downtrodden by the little things: Too much to do in too little time, dirty dishes left in the family room, backpacks scattered about the house, having to wait out a four-hour window for a repair man, or being stuck in traffic.
I imagine that having a second chance at life makes you grateful to even be around to experience those things. Someone once told me to be grateful for the laundry and dishes, because it's evidence that you have a family and a home where those things can collect.
I'm thankful to have crossed paths with this cancer survivor. Her unexpected story made me realize that instead of getting annoyed by the little things in life, I need to be quick to count my blessings and be thankful I'm here to experience another day.
Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every other week. Comments are welcome.