On Friday night I chatted to a good friend of mine who says she has only one friend who is not a blonde. Why does she only have blonde friends? We suggest that maybe she prefers her cronies intellectually challenged?  (I can make blonde jokes okay?) Or is this simply random? This is however not a coincidence.  Us over fifties have to hide our grey and it is much easier to do so with a blonde “coiffure”. On the topic of hair and coincidence, have you all noticed how the straightened and the beautifully styled hairstyles in SA are now being replaced with a slightly more, shaggychic look? That is however not a fashion-choice as much as a necessity when we girls have to make a plan when Eskom does not supply power to our GHD’s and blow-dryers.


These “coincidences” made me think of how many I experience in our work. A while ago I got a call from a worried son. His mom (let’s call her Jane) had a bad fall and fractured her pelvis. She would need to come and recover with us and upon discharge from the hospital, an ambulance brought her to us. She settled in nicely, and she quickly identified who her favourite carer was for certain daily functions. A few days after Jane checked in, I arrived at work to be told by my staff that her son came with some bad news that the doctor communicated to him. Jane had stage 4 cancer. She was riddled with it. I dropped my bags and went straight to Jane’s room. Upon arrival, the beautiful Obakeng was sitting with her and they were chatting, totally relaxed. I immediately thought that I must be in the wrong room, or maybe I got my wires crossed. This does not look like a patient that just received, for a lack of a better term, a death sentence. She looked up at me from where she was still tucked up under a fluffy duvet and said: “Ann-Magret, did you hear the news? How lucky am I to have arrived at the right place to take on this journey! Look at everything I have here: a room with a view, I’m comfortable, I feel loved, I already know all of you and I am ready to walk this road.” It was such a beautiful, courageous moment that it took my breath away.


Her children feel she should fight: go for the chemo or the surgeries, but she does not want to fight. What she wants is to go gracefully, spend some wonderful quality moments with her family and not be a burden to anyone. Is it a coincidence that she arrived with us, a team that will honour whatever choice she makes and will also allow her to change her mind if she does try and cling on to every intervention or drug or cure modern medicine can provide? Whatever this disease brings, whatever the future throws at her, she feels she has found her home and her tribe, for the final journey. So, whether she got to us by haphazardness, a broken pelvis or divine intervention, it does not really matter. Jane is where she needs to be right now.


For the past three weeks I have been going to see my good friend in Sunninghill Netcare’s Trauma ICU on a daily basis. Every day, on my way to her bed, I walked past a young, beautiful man wrapped up like a mummy. He stands out like a sore thumb, mainly because he is so young and healthy looking, and of course because all his limbs are in plaster. I would walk past him and greet and nod. Low and behold, a few days later his parents contacted me. They described their son to me, what happened to him and I risked a guess. I asked if he was in Trauma ICU and sure enough it was him. So long before either of us knew we would walk the tough part of recovery together, we had already met. The coincidence of us already having a relationship (albeit it very tentative) made the transition from acute care to us so much smoother.


Google says a coincidence is “a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection,” but Psychology Today says that people who are prone to believe in mystery, or the Universe, or fate, or God, tend to believe that something greater than themselves puts these events in motion or make sure that certain people are carefully placed in each other’s paths. These people believe that something is causing the coincidences and so, in simple terms, the cause actually  orchestrated, albeit unknown. Therefore, there is no such thing as a coincidence. (Christians also like to call these “Godincidents”). These people say things like: “It was meant to be” or “This is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”


On the other hand, statically-orientated people think that coincidences can be theorised by the law of truly large numbers which states that in any large population any weird event is likely to happen. So they believe that these are also not coincidences, but rather just statistically improbable but inevitable random events that can surprise us, but are just the law of averages doing its thing.


So the way I understand it, no one actually believes in coincidences!


Whether it is random or God-engineered, something very strange happened to me on Wednesday. For a rather weird reason, I ended up at a pet store in a shopping centre to which I have never been before. If you follow my blog, you must know by now how I love my cat Smith, so obviously, I found myself in the store to buy the young prince a catnip ball. I started chatting to the young manager. I was not wearing my scrubs, so there were no tell-tale signs of how I earn a living. We spoke about cats and then life and within a few minutes she shared with me that her dad is dying. She shared his entire story and how at age 64 he has given up as there is no hope and he is simply waiting to die. But, wait for it, we have a guest right now with the exact same illness he has and the same medical aid. Within a few minutes I was able to share how there is in fact hope, a fantastic benefit on said medical aid, and many, many comfortable years for the father if his disease is managed well. At that moment, I think the purpose of our chat is more to give hope to the young manager who suddenly realized she is not alone in this and that, arbitrary or not, there is a whole universe filled with coincidences, mysteries, randomness, hope, kindness, support and a future she and her dad do not have to attempt in solitude.