The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

For Harisa.

Five years ago, I met a beautiful woman from Bosnia on a flight. We spotted each other before we boarded, and since the plane wasn’t totally full, she came over to sit near me. We talked the whole time. We laughed. We talked about books and love.

She recommended the book I’ll quote below. She was kind and warm. She immediately invited me to come visit her family–to ditch my present vacation and join her. I loved that, though I had to decline. We kept in touch from time to time and she encouraged me to keep writing.

It’s remarkable how someone I met for only a few hours made me brave for adventure, hopeful about the future, and helped me to discover that love is a bigger part of the world than any other element. She gave this to me.

Only today did I learn that she passed away last week. My heart breaks for her husband and her son, for her family, for her colleagues and friends. I really only spoke with her for a few hours, but she became such an important part of my journey.Β  She is a reminder that no encounter is just a drop in the bucket, but that they can all matter.

With gratitude for her kindness and openness, and with sympathy for her family, below is a copy of a post I sent her two years ago.


A note I send to Harisa inΒ 2012:

“I ran across you in my travel notes. I guess I saw you even before we got in the flight. I didn’t write quite enough about you to create a whole story, but I somehow knew you were an extraordinary person.”


I am just like everybody else, Isador always says, because there is nobody like me in the whole world.

-Aleksandar Hemon. The Lazarus Project

Mostar, Mostar bridge, Bosnia

Mostar, Bosnia.

13 comments on “For Harisa.

  1. M. R.
    February 17, 2014

    I think you attract people like a magnet…

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      February 17, 2014

      I think she did as well! We talked about how we just KNEW we had to talk to each other. πŸ™‚ It was ages ago, at the start of my wandering, but she inspired me in a big way.

      • M. R.
        February 17, 2014

        Then you mustn’t regret her passing, but rejoice in having met her. And I’m sure that’s your attitude, too!

  2. Wildflower Women
    February 17, 2014

    Love is all there is and when we drop our guard and share it look what blooms! Thank you for sharing.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      February 17, 2014

      Yes! I love that. I agree that it is a matter of being open and we can seem to uncover the remarkable in the everyday encounter. πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  3. joannerambling
    February 17, 2014

    Yes you do attract the most amazing people into your life.

  4. Dr_IQ
    February 18, 2014

    Sorry to hear that. May she RIP. Lovely people are also loved by the Almighty.

  5. suej
    February 18, 2014

    No encounter is just a drop in the bucket…I agree. life can be enriched by the briefest of encounters.

  6. Robert M. Weiss
    February 18, 2014

    A powerful and sad story.

  7. sam sonderman
    February 22, 2014

    Harisa was an incredible person. May she rest in peace

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      February 22, 2014

      Yes, Sam, I agree. She was a ray of light! I was so fortunate to have crossed her path.
      With my sympathy,

  8. Son of Sharecroppers
    February 22, 2014

    Lovely, lovely story.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      February 23, 2014

      It was such a gift to get to meet her. Thank you for visiting! I really enjoyed your blog and I’ll be there often. πŸ™‚

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This entry was posted on February 17, 2014 by in Blogging, Europe, Happiness, Writing and tagged , , , , .

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