Ever had someone pass through your life, and before you know it, they’re gone? Maybe they changed your life, or you theirs, but what do you do when there’s no way to track them down?
Many thanks to the Redditors who responded. You can check out more answers from the source at the end of this article.
I met a girl at the water park. We hit it off instantly and fell in instant puppy love like only 13-year-olds could. We rode all of the rides together, made out in the lazy river.
She and her family had to leave, so she wrote her phone number down for me on a piece of paper for me. I promise to call her that night.
I put the paper in my little mesh coin pocket in the waistband of my shorts, and then I got back in the water. Hours later, I was devastated that her phone number had turned to unreadable mush in my pocket. I couldn’t even remember her name, or her face, or even the color of her suit.
My friends swear that I made this girl up, by the way.
It was 1993 (maybe 1994) in Oklahoma City. I am happily married now. I have no real desire to contact this girl, other than to tell her that she was not rejected. She was not “used”. She was absolutely loved for that one whole day, and that little boy cried when he realized he had no way of getting in touch with her. You were not rejected, he is just an idiot.
About two years ago on Christmas morning, I was walking through downtown LA to go to the movie theater. I am Latino and my family usually celebrates Christmas the night before, and we also open our presents the night before. So, on this morning, I was going to catch Django Unchained.
On my way there, I had a couple of bucks, so I gave these homeless guys a dollar each. I had one dollar left, and as I was crossing the street, I see one more guy. He was holding hot wheels in his hand. I guess which he was planning to sell.
I approached him and handed him the last dollar. He was thankful and asked me how I knew that he needed the dollar. I just said that it was Christmas or something. I can’t remember.
He begins to speak to me about what I do, and what I want to do. At the time, I was a sophomore in college. I have always been incredibly ambitious, more so the last couple of years. It has gotten to the point where I feel like I am overworking and watching aspects of my life deteriorate.
I have a great relationship with my family and my work. Well, this homeless man points over to the downtown LA buildings and tells me not to chase that. He tells me to not chase the bright lights, that it is going to drive me crazy.
I feel like I have recently lost my way, and I have been chasing those bright lights again. That is not who I want to become. I want to do what I do because I love it, and not for the money or rewards.
There was this new kid in my second grade who had really striking red hair and thick framed glasses. He was always super quiet and kept to himself, but on the bus, he would draw the creepiest animals ever. Like they were always in distorted shapes with these menacing faces.
So, on one bus ride home, I decided to pick up a pencil with the intentions of making the strangest looking bird.
He looked over at my shoulder while I was finishing up, and he gasped. I looked back at him, and I saw his shocked face. I just knew from that point on that art was going to be a part of my life.
Unfortunately, he had to leave school a week later because he pooped in the bathroom sink and lied about it.
A woman in Wisconsin I met while rambling through on a big road trip. I stopped at her garage sale on a whim while heading to the Upper Peninsula, and I was the only person there.
I noticed that there were a lot of clothes in my size, which is rare since I am a big man. I commented on it, and she told me that they had belonged to her recently deceased son, and she needed to get rid of his clothes. He had died as a young man in a bad accident. I bought a red vest from her that she said he had worn a lot. I wear it all the time now and think about her frequently.
This was 6 years ago, and I’ll never forget how she hugged me, how she cried, and how I felt driving away. She also gave me a little stuffed dog that he used to keep in the back of his truck. I know that she saw a bit of her son in me, and seeing me wear the vest as I left meant a lot to her. I’ll keep it for the rest of my life. I doubt I’ll ever see her again though.
My sister and I once went on a tour to Australia. It was put on by Disney. It was several families and two tour guides. There was one family that was just an older couple. My sister and I were the only others without the rest of their family there, so we often sat with the older couple during meals. We talked a lot, and eventually we learned that they had an adult daughter with a severe mental disability. She never progressed past a child’s mental capability. She had a Disney princess bedroom. This was their first trip without their daughter in decades.
I think they felt really guilty, and they definitely missed her to death, but they were having the time of their lives. I think they sort of adopted my sister and I as their surrogate daughters during the trip. At the end of the tour, we all hugged and cried as we said bye. They were a little too old to keep in touch electronically, so we lost touch. I wish I’d gotten their address. I would have sent them Disney stuff when I worked there…
I grew up in an abusive home, so my social skills weren’t where they needed to be in my early childhood. I’d go to school and pretty much just keep silent the entire time. I never spoke to anyone, and if someone spoke to me I’d only give them nods or single sentence responses while making sure not to make eye contact. This eventually led to bullying and the harassment only caused the gap in my social skills to grow over the years.
About half way through 5th grade, I was on the swings by myself as usual when a kid came over and sat on the swing next to me.
He introduced himself, but that was it. He didn’t try to talk to me, he didn’t try to play. He just sat there with me all through recess. He did this every day for a few weeks before my curiosity overpowered my social anxiety, and I asked him why he sat with me every day. He looked at me and said, “You look like you needed a friend.” I was blown away. Never had anyone extend their hand out to me like that. I slowly started trying to talk to him, and for the rest of the year, he was my only and best friend.
Over the summer, before going into 6th grade with my friend, it was discovered that I was being abused, and I was forced to move. I’m 22 now, and I’m doing okay, but if I could thank Christopher for what he did I would. I really and truly believe he saved my life just by trying to be my friend. I really hope he is doing well.
I met a girl in three airports, three different times, on the same day.
I was heading from Vancouver to Saskatoon, as I live in Saskatoon, and was coming home from a trip to see a girl I was dating at the time.
She lived in Vancouver and was coming here to see a guy she was seeing at the time.
When I first saw her in Vancouver, I could barely breathe. We sat beside each other, never saying a word, but always staring. Always smiling.
She wasn’t even on my connecting flights, but our days kept putting us together. First in Vancouver, then Calgary, and then in Saskatoon.
When we literally nearly collided with each other completely coincidentally for what seemed like the 12th time, I felt like I was being given way too many opportunities to see this girl for it to be random.
We talked. We realized we were with other people. We still talked, and talked, and talked.
We ended up leaving those other people for each other, but never ended up together…
We would drift in and out of each other’s lives for a long long time, always wanting to make something happen, but never committing to it.
Seven years later, we’ve started talking again, and I’ve realized that this isn’t just going to happen on its own. I have to try for it. I have to reach out for it. I told her this. She said she thought the same.
I’m going to Vancouver.
I was an international student in the US for college, and I always went back home during the holidays. Every year, whenever I got back from the Christmas holidays, there would always be a voicemail waiting for me. The guy sounds like an old man, and in a forced cheerful voice that sounded kind of sad, he’d always leave a message that was something along the lines of, “Hey! You never give your old man a call! Merry Christmas, you loser. I miss you. Please call me. You know you can call me anytime. Well, cya! Have a Happy New Year!”
I never got his number, so I could never call him back to tell him that the number’s used by somebody else.
After 4 years, I was finally in the US for Christmas since I had work.
I managed to pick up the phone call from that guy and had to tell him that I’ve had this number for the past 4 years. I didn’t tell him I’ve been receiving his voice messages since that seemed too personal, but I’m sure he knew. He sounded so crushed. He just went, “Oh. Right. Right. Thank you so much, ma’am. You have a great Christmas and have a lovely time with your family. Bye now.”
His voice was cracking, and he sounded like he was about to cry.
I still wonder what’s the story behind that, and I really hope that person eventually called him.
When I was about ten, my parents went to a conference. At said conference, there were organized kids activities and such. There was one boy, and we were sitting in a circle playing some dumb game with a group leader, and this boy came up. The group leader said the group was full, and after he left, the kids in the circle started talking about how he seemed weird, including the leader! As a ten-year-old, I saw nothing weird about the kid; he just wanted to join us. It made me feel uneasy, but I didn’t speak up because I was painfully, painfully shy.
Later, on the last day, I was playing “spud” with a girl I had miraculously made friends with (I think she approached me).The kid came up to us and said, “Oh, I’ve played that game!” Hovered a minute and then left. I waited for my friend to ask him to join us. She didn’t, and I didn’t say anything.
And this has stuck with me basically forever. How this kid, who seemed nice and friendly, wasn’t included for seeming “weird”- it was wrong.
I used to fantasize that I had had the courage to ask him to play with us, and then we became best friends. And looking back it still makes me sad.
When my cousin and I were kids, we were swimming in the pool at this hotel that had famously great hot chocolate. We decided we wanted more hot chocolate, but couldn’t find our parents anywhere.
We went up to a random couple and demanded hot chocolate. They actually bought it for us, and we hung out with them until our parents found us. By then, we had finished our hot chocolates and all of the evidence had been cleared. We decided not to tell our parents because we knew they’d be mad, especially since we tried asking for more hot chocolate, and they told us we couldn’t have anymore since they were so overpriced (I believe they were $6-$8ish/cup… I can’t really remember). The couple was nice enough not to mention it, so they never got paid back.
Looking back, I think they were probably on their honeymoon since they were really gushy around each other. I’m sure they weren’t planning on spending half a day babysitting two annoying 5/6-year-old kids.
To the couple whose honeymoon I ruined, I’m so sorry. I hope you’re still together and happy!
Every week or so, I keep thinking back on this random moment in my life and it makes me realize that sometimes, all I need to feel complete is, to break my self apart. A few months ago I was in South Africa visiting my sister. She lives in Cape Town and had to work for a week. It was the perfect time to get out of the city and try and find a new place to explore on a solo adventure. One of the lesser known countries in the world is Swaziland, which is the smallest country in Africa and neighbors, South Africa. I booked a flight to Johannesburg and rented a car to make the drive out to Swaziland.
My destination was Mkhaya game reserve. One of the more interesting reserves that offered a three-day safari trip that I was very interested in. I didn’t really have a time period of when I needed to be there, as I had a week to do anything I wanted to. The drive out was casual, to say the least.
The thing about Swaziland is that it doesn’t have physical addresses. It made my predicament a little harder to maneuver because as always, I opted to go on the road trip without a GPS. I got lost for roughly a day after crossing the Swaziland border, and what a day it was.
I was driving through this rural town that didn’t make it any different than the towns prior to it. It was small in size, lacked building or structures that we are used to seeing in America, and for the most part, life just seemed to move at a completely different pace. I came across this bus stand, and this old man caught my eye. He was standing there alone in this bus stand that was a mile from any discernible location in either direction. He had nothing to entertain him, and from my observations while driving, I already knew that the bus wouldn’t pass him for at least a little while. But he didn’t seem to mind any of it, and just stood there smiling and looking around.
I drove probably 5-10 minutes past him, and I just couldn’t get him out of my mind.
Like most people, sustained silences seem to bother me because of the way that I grew up and how society is. I am constantly filling those gaps with phone breaks, sometimes surfing sites that offer me nothing, and sometimes re-reading the same subject written in a different way. It was hard for me to understand how this man could be living here in the middle of nowhere, and still be so happy and content in life.
I couldn’t get the man out of my mind, and having nowhere to be at any specific time, I turned my car around. I got back to the bus stop, and sure enough, he was still standing there. I pulled over and cautiously approached him, not knowing how he would react to this stranger obviously coming towards him for a specific purpose or goal. He broke out of whatever deep thought he was in and smiled at me as I greeted him. A lot of people in Swaziland spoke English, and to my luck, this man had a good grasp of the language as well. I didn’t really know what it was that I wanted to talk to him about. I only knew that I did. We talked about life. He told me that he lived 15 minutes away on his son’s farm and that he helps him as much as he can. He was here to catch a public bus to the city to buy some supplies and whatnot.
I asked him what he does on a day-to-day basis. He told me he wakes up early and walks the lands because there was something special about looking out into the landscape when the rising sun hits it in a certain way. He plays with his grandkids, walks the dogs, reads the local newspapers. He walks around and talks to the neighbors, and every other day, he buses it to the city and sits around bars or shops and talks to the people that come to do pretty much the same thing.
His days were never wasted, and he didn’t need the things we need to have happiness in his life. It got me to thinking about what happiness really is. I am the result of everything I’ve ever seen and everyone I’ve ever talked to. I wake up too cranky, work too much, rely on coffee to enjoy talking to people, get too angry at the traffic at home, and sometimes watch too much tv. I mean sometimes I’m not even watching the T.V., rather I’m just staring at it, become lost in it, not even getting anything out of it. I do all of this, and squeezed inside of these moments, are bouts of happiness. I look forward to the weekend, timing it and thinking, “Only a few more days until happiness can begin.” I love my job, and what I do, but I would be lying to you if I told you that I didn’t let it get the best of me from time to time, and let it control my mood and emotions.
I asked the man what makes him happy, and he told me something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. He told me, “Happiness cannot be gotten from things or places. Happiness is a state of being. I can travel to where you live and be happy because I am seeing something new. But I can also travel to my back yard and be happy for many different reasons. I can be happy that I have a backyard, or I can be happy because the weather is nice there. I can be happy because my backyard gives me a feeling of comfort, or I can be happy because I am still healthy enough to be able to walk myself to my backyard. You can choose to be happy with anything at any time. I mean, you choose to be sad and angry at things, why not simply choose to be happy instead?”
Things don’t make you angry. It’s you who chooses to react to certain things in an angry way. Things don’t bring you happiness, nor does the weekend. It’s you who chooses to be happy with things, and with the weekend. And it’s you who can choose to be happy whenever else as well.
I thanked the man for his time and he hugged me goodbye. I really haven’t stopped thinking about what he told me since. That man did not have much in his life, and he didn’t have the fancy gadgets that we do. There aren’t people and signs constantly telling him how he should live. There wasn’t a written guideline to where he could obtain bliss. But he did have happiness. And now, he has a friend in me as well.
Once while driving back to my college after a break, I was going pretty fast and passing most cars. I passed a little green car that then passed me. I passed it again. They passed me again. We came to a semi, and they not only passed the semi, but they waited until there was enough room for both them and myself to merge back into the right lane. We continued this back and forth and synchronized passing for two hours. Unfortunately, I eventually had to turn. I never knew anything about that person, but we had a pretty good car ride together.
I was recovering in the hospital after an operation in 2004 and shared a room with a young man (17 or 18) who had attempted suicide by putting a shotgun under his chin. He was very open to talking about it and explained to me that in the struggle of trying to pull the trigger on such a long weapon on himself, the gun angled forward too much. The end result was that his brain and vital blood vessels were essentially spared. His face, however, was completely obliterated. He was completely blind and without eyeballs. He spoke very slowly and was surprisingly easy to understand, considering the shape of his tongue when he showed you. I can’t remember the number, but he told me he had already had several reconstructive surgeries and was in the hospital this time for a nose reconstruction. They were also going to work on his eye sockets so that he could be fitted for false eyes later on. He was one of the nicest people I have ever met. I was stuck in the bed for about a week, and he was constantly asking if there was anything he could do for me. When I was moved to a different room, he would walk to where I had moved and chat with me when my family was gone (I was about 13 or 14). He told me that he started regretting what he had done in the same moment that he pulled the trigger. Even though life was so much more difficult for him now, he said he had never been happier because he knows he will never ever in that place again. This was a time before teenagers all had cell phones, so we never even thought about exchanging numbers. He went on to start a non-profit and become a motivational speaker to help prevent teenage suicide. I saw him on Oprah’s show one day and completely lit up with happiness. Great guy who deserves great things.
There was a girl I met in elementary school.
She was new and sat next to me at lunch. We totally hit it off, so I invited her to spend the night, and we spent all of recess in the office calling our parents from the office phone to arrange the details. She was funny and smart, and we liked all of the same things. When she came over that night, I mentioned during dinner that I wished I had her for a sister. She got very quiet and said in a tiny voice that I could have her if we wanted her. She was in foster care so really she shouldn’t have been spending the night anywhere without agency approval, but if we wanted her, well, she wanted us.
My parents had always wanted a large family, but at that point, I was the only one of their children that had lived. It took my parents about 2 minutes to jump up from the table and start looking up what paperwork they needed to fill out and who they needed to call to adopt this girl. They found out she had a little brother also in the system. Wonderful! We just had to do some more paperwork to get him too. The system likes to keep siblings together when possible. If we turned the office into a bedroom, then we’d each have our own room, and we could put the computer in the kitchen. We spent the next few days ecstatic that we were going to be a family and rearranging furniture to create the new bedrooms from what had been the office and sewing room.
I remember my parents standing in the kitchen telling each other that they couldn’t believe they were doing this and pulling me aside several times to talk and make sure I was really okay with having siblings. I wasn’t okay with having siblings, I was overjoyed at having these siblings. My friend and I spent so many hours trying to decide on a paint color for her room.
When the girl’s grandmother heard that someone outside of the family was going to adopt them, she decided she wanted custody of the two after all and fought us. Being a blood relative, she got priority. She was incredibly hostile to us since we’d tried to “steal” her grandchildren. Even though she lived nearby, she forced my friend to change schools and cut contact. I only got to meet her little brother during the final drop off. It wasn’t fair.
The last time I saw this girl, we were dropping her off at her grandmother’s house. It was small and dirty, and smelled like urine and smoke, and was stacked clear to the ceiling with old newspapers in the living room and hallways. My friend and I clung to each other on the front lawn and cried until her grandmother yelled at us for being stupid and pulled her away.
I wish I knew what happened to her, and I know my parents do too. Her grandmother wouldn’t let us keep in touch.
When I was younger, we had to bring my younger brother to Brisbane for medical treatment. It was there that I became friends with this young boy who was also a patient. As my younger brother had always been sickly, I guess that young kid was the closest person I had to a sibling that would actually play with me, and he was also my very first friend.
Sometimes I wonder how he is now, but trying to contact him would be tough, as all I know of him is a generic first name, John.
Sometime between 2003-2006, I met a guy who explained that he was walking across the US. He came into the fast food joint where I worked, we chatted briefly, and I drew him a map to the library. We added each other on Myspace, but I never heard whether he’d finished his trek or not. Maybe he’s still out walking. I remain occasionally curious.
So, this happened a few months after the death of my grandmother in 2001. I was just a 9-years-old kid back then and was very attached to my grandmother (she practically raised me up until that point). I was going on a public transport bus with my father somewhere when I saw this old lady who was a complete doppelganger of my grandmother. Not only the same age and same face, but they also had the same style of glasses and clothing. I didn’t talk to her or anything but kept on staring at her the whole 15-20 minute that I was on the bus. I was happy after I got off the bus as the experience gave me closure. I never saw the old lady again though. I wish I could have.
His name was Fisher.
He had a great big beard, the brightest smile in the world that could just outshine the sun, and was stupidly funny and sarcastic. My kind of friend.
I met him at a friend’s party about two years ago, and I had so many incredible conversations with this kid that I had just met!
Then, about two weeks later, he committed suicide.
I, like so many other people that he had met in his brief life, felt almost cheated out of knowing this incredible kid, for even just 5 minutes longer.
Some people really know how to leave an impression…
I played Club Penguin on Miniclip and made a friend from another part of the world, presumably a female (because she said she was, and she had a pink penguin avatar). We logged in daily at a fixed time, waited for each other at our favorite spot which was by the fishing hut, and then talked about a lot of stuff through the chat option. We went to the restaurants and movies, we danced at clubs and gave gifts to each other. We were totally feeling each other’s company and things were going great, until one day, I accidentally said an inappropriate word and was banned from the domain. This was right in the middle of a great conversation.
I quickly logged in through my other ID and went to her, but she was all sad and confused. I tried talking to her, but this ID didn’t have the chat option, and moreover, this avatar of mine had a different color. She didn’t recognize me, and I had no way of telling her. I tried to follow her, tried to tell her through the gifts, but she got irritated and logged out.
The ban wasn’t removed until another week, and I couldn’t find her afterward. She moved on I guess.
I met this incredible girl the summer before my senior year of high school. Both of our schools sent us to College Summit to learn about college, do personal statements, all that jazz, but all I cared about was that girl.
We hit it off in the classes and hung out a lot after the classes until late at night just talking. I got her number at the end of the weekend, and we talked for a while, but being on opposite sides of the state, we both just kind of gave up pursuing it anymore.
Flash forward 6 years, we ran into each other once again, and what do you know? We both are still madly in puppy love with each other. Today we live together, have a kid together, and are planning on getting married here soon.
Don’t give up on long lost things kids.
I work at a cafe, and this guy always came in during the afternoon rush to get a smoothie. Move along to a few weeks of this, he gave me his number. I never really noticed that he tried to make conversation daily with me until after this.
I texted him. We went on a date, and while he was really great, I just couldn’t? I don’t know. I told him how I felt. But anyway, the point is, he stopped coming in immediately. I have his number still, but he’s just a fond memory now.
He is genuinely a great guy. I hope he’s well.
I lost my grandmother in 2009, and I saw a woman who looked JUST like her in the grocery store about a year or so later. I never talked to her, but I just watched and looked at her before she left the store. I had the biggest instinct to run up and hug her, but of course, that would be creepy. It still gave me feelings of closure though.
My fifth-grade teacher, Angelo Sanchez. He encouraged me and challenged me, and he genuinely cared about education and his students. I took it for granted back then because all ten-year-olds are immature, but I just wish I could have grabbed a cup of coffee or a beer with him, and let him know that I turned out okay and to learn more about him. I’m actually tearing up while writing this. Damn.
I had a professor who called these people your “Toothbrush People.” You really only had one brief encounter, but you can’t help but think of them every so often. They’re the kind of things that you think about when you brush your teeth. We all laughed at him, but then realized that we had someone like this.
When I was 26, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. I had really good insurance, was diagnosed early, and my prognosis was good.
My first day of radiation therapy, I was sitting in the waiting room waiting for my turn. A young woman, about my age, was standing at the reception desk. I couldn’t help but overhear her conversation with the receptionist. She had just been diagnosed with cancer but had no insurance.
The receptionist had to tell her they couldn’t help her. She asked, “What do I do?” I didn’t hear what the receptionist said, but the girl left. That was eleven years ago, and it still haunts me. I’ve always wondered what happened to her. I hope she was still able to get treatment and beat her cancer.