I don’t know what you mean when you refer to magic. What are you talking about?

Serendipity, coincidences, the feeling of awe, the feeling of things going your way, feeling like you belong in the pattern of the world.

My sister and I are on a train heading across the country. The good looking man we had seen at the train station just so happened to be seated a row up from us and across the aisle. He hadn’t paid either of us any attention, which was unusual. A few hours into the trip he walked past us, carefully not making eye contact. When he he returned to his seat, he glanced in my direction. I smiled. It was a smile that I use on strangers, it is insistent, and unable to be ignored. The corners of his mouth twitched in acknowledgement. I had won. Pleased with myself, I settled back into my seat, Chicago wasn’t too much further.

It was March and freezing cold in Chicago. My sister and I had not brought appropriate clothes for our 12 hour layover. We were out exploring the city, walking down streets on the random, ducking into shops as we felt called. Men whistled at my sister as we walked. She ignored the attention, but I laughed. Suddenly coming towards us was a familiar face, this time my sister laughed. She knew he’d caught my attention. It was the man from the train. My heart skipped. Somewhere in the heart of Chicago, surrounded by millions of people, here he was again. This time he was smiling at me.

We talked… he was on an adventure, so were we. He was from San Diego, I was in Ohio at the time. He was just taking the train for fun, he loved trains. We did too, but we were headed to Memphis for spring break. Crazy running into each other! He was going to head back to the train station, it was too cold. We wanted to go see Millennium Park, he had just come from there. We said goodbye.

In the days that followed I couldn’t stop thinking about the coincidence. Chicago was huge. There were millions of people. Yet, there he had been for a second time. What if I did something crazier? Missed Connections You sat next to a man in horn rimmed glasses on the train. Saw you again downtown. Message me if you see this.
I was insane, what kind of a crazy person does things like this? A few days later, a response came. I looked back at my post, I was more than 200 posts down, and even on the second page. How had he even seen? Besides, how had he even thought to look?
But, it was him. We exchanged a few emails, and added eachother on facebook. He posted sunsets and sunrises, he posted poetry and things that meant something to his soul. But I was more than two thousand miles away. A couple weeks went by and I didn’t hear anything from him. Unusual, so I went onto his page. His brother had just posted memorial service information for him. My heart broke.
This can’t be the end of the story, can it? All the magic of coincidence, of serendipity, of chances taken, this was how the story would end? I searched to find out how he died, and my heart broke even more. He had taken his own life. He loved trains more than anything, so he stepped in front of one when his world became too dark.

I had been shy in our correspondence, but maybe if I had told him how he had inspired me. But the world of maybes is not a world to live in. Now though, now I would make sure that people knew when they brought magic to my life. Our paths crossed, and he did not remain a good looking face on a train, forgotten with time. He was real, and magical, and changed who I am, because of his life and death.

Magic can happen every day. You just have to see it. But, if you’re not looking, if you don’t act, it will remain mundane and pass through existence, forgotten.

*In Memory of Jeffery William Tait*

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