Will Rogers famously said, “A stranger is just a friend I haven’t met yet.” Ontario, Canada, resident Leena Ali knows this at her core.
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A few weeks ago, she received a wrong-number text asking if she was someone named Quentin. She decided to play along, but only until she realized the purpose of the message: to let Quentin know about an upcoming celebration-of-life wake for Debbie Celar, a relative of the sender’s who’d recently passed away.
But we all know people who’ve never met a stranger, and Leena’s one of them. She’s of Sudanese descent and was only familiar with funerals, not celebrations of life, so she wanted to come partly just to find out what it was all about.
She quickly followed up her text about her true identity with a question: “Can I come [to] auntie Debbie’s celebration of life with you guys?”
Naturally, Dawn was a little confused and probably hesitant to say yes; then again, what were the odds this stranger would actually show?
But Leena is a woman of her word and came with a fruit bowl and one of her childhood friends! Debbie was part of a large family, and all 13 grandchildren along with 50 immediate family members and hundreds of others were gathered for her celebration.
Every one of them got a kick out of hearing the story behind Leena’s “invitation.” But nobody would have appreciated it more than Debbie herself.
When I found out that it wasn’t Quentin, I just thought ‘I’ve gotta go with this, because my aunt Debbie would.’ Aunt Deb would invite these people, whoever they are, into her home. That’s just who she was … My family hasn’t stopped talking about it. Things happen for a reason and at such a sad time in our life (Ali’s visit) made it the brightest.
Improbable as it seems, these two women have developed a friendship through this whole experience and still seem kind of stunned over how the story has garnered so much attention. But how could you not love this chance encounter that blossomed into a beautiful friendship at just the right time?!
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