I have a friend, M, who was recently interviewed on a podcast. Her’s is a tale of growing up biracial and it was all the feels–funny, interesting, with moments of sadness. Her story’s a good one– and like her story, she’s funny, interesting, but kind (unlike many of the people she grew up with). What I really loved about the interview was how M came full circle to her state’s motto–Wild and Wonderful, West Virginia. How all these good, bad, and ugly aspects and the things she tried to get away from were the very things that made her who she is–wild and wonderful. While there are many, many things I related to in their conversation and could talk about, but what struck me (in an odd, paranormal way) after listening was the “mystery woman.” The woman who was allegedly a social worker who came to talk to M’s mom about the adoption papers and how she didn’t have to go through with the adoption. She told her, “I don’t know if anyone ever told you, but…” That gave me chills. Here’s why–
M’s mom went back to thank the social worker–she kept the baby (clearly–M) and was glad for it (side note: I’m glad for it, too). She went down to the office building where the social worker supposedly worked (pre-internet, folks) and no one knew anything of this woman–she didn’t exist. There was no record of her. Cue the chills. I have a thing for oddities like that, paranormal, divine intervention, hand of God, eery, spooky–you name it. There’s something about the mysteries of life and trying to figure them out or knowing that on some levels they’re flat out ineffable and unknowable. I think the phrase M’s mom used for this instance was “divine intervention.” That mystery woman glommed onto me, dredging up a bizarre event that happened in the Narita airport when I was five and a half years old.
While there wasn’t any divine intervention there, it was odd and inexplicable. The gist of it is this: a woman arrived, sat with us, then left. We have no idea why. The oddest part of it is she looked exactly like my mom. Here’s the story (sorry M, this one isn’t as epic as your coming to being story–the only link is a mystery woman–I’m not trying to bring your epic-ness down, there was just a sliver of connection there and I’m running with it 🐎😁🐎).
My maternal grandmother had died earlier in the year and we were going back to Japan for Oban to celebrate our ancestors and to have another ceremony for her. We had a brief layover in Tokyo where one of my mom’s brothers lives. He came by to visit with us before the next leg of our journey. We were sitting at a table with a banquet–my younger brother, uncle, and me. My “mom” returned from the bathroom, but she’s wearing a different scarf and has her sunglasses on–which was odd. She walked in our general direction but looked confused as if she forgot where we were sitting, before spying us. Seeing us, she had a look of realization and waved, then walked over. She slide onto the bench side of the table and there’s an odd, almost uncomfortable feeling. We all look around the table and then back at her. We asked her what was wrong. She looked at us, as if she’s just thought of something, and then said, “I have to go. I’ll be back.” She got up and left. We had no idea what had happened. I remember my uncle looking stunned as well. We weren’t sure who this woman was and why she looked so much like my mom or if she was our mom. Moments later, my actual mom returned and asked us what was wrong.
Here’s the thing–I remember even my uncle was stunned by this. I can hear you saying, Yes, but you were 5 years old! Yup. But for years my brother remembered the same story and my uncle had confirmed it to our mom–this woman looked so much like you and she sat with us, as if she belonged. We may have psychically invited her to sit with us, who knows? Chief accuses me of that all the time–you invite “it” in. Eye contact and smiles–that kind of stuff. Truth. There’s something to that–sometimes I think it’s the simple fact I’m willing to listen. Curiosity may have something to do with this as well. This woman made a beeline for us as soon as the momentary confusion cleared for her–it was obvious in her facial expression. Just as the confusion seemed to quickly clear for her it was back just as suddenly–then she was off to her next destination. Wherever that may be.
I’m not sure what to make of that story. It has stuck with me for all those years, maybe because it was such a mystery. There’s a thought that everyone has their own doppelgänger and maybe that woman was my mom’s. Who knows? Maybe we were all just tired, but I’m unwilling to leave it at that. I think we’ve all had those mystery people show up in our lives and then disappear without a trace. This mystery woman remains a mystery. 🤷🏻♀️