Serendipity & the Unexpected Gift of Everlasting Friendship

Sometimes in life magic happens. You may not yet realize, but in that moment, something extraordinary has taken place. These moments are not consciously planned. Although, there is a school of thought that believes our lives are a series of predestined events. Or argues that we choose. It matters not what we believe. Experiences continue to unfold, regardless. It is our ability to recognize and appreciate life’s beauty, hardships, AND the unknown, that brings meaning to moments in time. Occasionally, we are fortunate to discover the depth of such moments.

Today I would like to share one such story, one that is still revealing mysteries, depth and meaning 20 years down the track.

I once lived & worked in Venice Beach, California. It was a colourful & historically rich place to live. I delighted in having the ocean at my doorstep and enjoyed being able to dreamily gaze out to sea far beyond the mayhem that IS Venice. In one such moment, unbeknownst to me, a photographer captured a frame of film.

As he remembers:

“I'd spent the day on Venice Beach with a friend. I had just gotten my first professional camera (a Nikon F3) and we had been walking around taking pictures of the local color. Late in the day we found ourselves at Figtree's for a drink and a bite to eat. I remember I only had a few frames of film left and wanted to save them for the sunset.

While we waited on our order, I panned the room looking through the lens. Framing things up. Practicing. The hostess was standing in the doorway with her back to me. Her hair was a halo of golden light. Then she turned her head and looked straight down the barrel of the lens. I remember blushing as I shot my last few frames of film. I had a sense that I had taken something from this striking girl and that I owed her something for it.

I like everything about this image. Such a natural and beautiful moment, setting, woman, and time of my life. I included it in a series of other "found" images from that year and hung them up in our apartment. This is the only portrait in the series”.

Around the time this photo was taken, a friend introduced me to a wonderful teacher who was a mother figure and dear friend. This wise witty woman insisted (repeatedly), I meet Melissa Duke.


Our introduction was kinetic. I was wearing a beret with a purple fleur de lis pin. Both of these were important symbols in her life. We got along like a house on fire! Young, with much in common and an unfathomable amount of funny little coincidences in our complexities - soul sisters.

Months into our friendship she looked at me with a puzzled look and began to interrogate with southern charm.

“Did you ever live in Venice? Were you ever blond? Because I have this photo, on the wall. I think it's you!"

As Tim recalls, “Time went by...

Melissa was looking at the photo one day and wanted to know who the girl was and what she meant to me. I told her I wished I did know the girl's identity because I wished to show it to her and give her a print. You know the rest of the story. Melissa made the wish come true”. Tim Hawley

And so you see. The photograph, a once unknown connection, foreshadowed a series of serendipitous events. It truly captures more than meets the eye.

Melissa broke a lot of hearts when she unexpectedly passed away two years ago. Yet, her spirit lives on, not only in her book > (yo - check it out y'all) but also in the way she brought people together, with encouragement to go beyond self-perceived limitations.

Melissa had a favorite Southern expression: Lagniappe!

A lagniappe is something given as a bonus or extra gift.
Among the many gifts a person brings to the world, the best is one of everlasting friendship.

Cherish the people you love, they will remember you.

Live your life to the brim while you still have the privilege of doing so.

Celebrate the magic in life when it presents itself.

Many Blessings to All~
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